Selection Sunday: Bracket Battles Begin

Illinois celebrate after grabbing the No. 1 seed on Selection Sunday.

Associated Press

Illinois celebrate after grabbing the No. 1 seed on Selection Sunday.

Kennedy Jones, Staff Writer

March Madness is officially back after brackets were revealed on Selection Sunday. Much has changed since the tournament was cancelled last year because of COVID, surely causing some fans to be surprised as the bracket battles begin.

The Big Dance will look a little different this year with 68 teams traveling to Indianapolis to play with limited stadium capacity for fans. Another change to the tournament is fan favorite Duke will not be allowed to play because a player tested positive for COVID.

Now onto the teams. The No. 1 seeds this year go to Gonzaga, Baylor, Illinois and Michigan. Count on any one of these teams making it to the final four. However, Illinois (23-6) is a favorite among many people who are filling out their brackets.

In the East, there are many big names that could go far in your bracket: Florida State, UConn and Maryland are underdogs, but proved to hang with big teams. No. 1 seed Michigan has potential to go far, but an upset against Florida State or LSU could take them out of the race. All of the teams in this region are very talented and could make a difference in the overall tournament.

Illinois is easily the overall fan favorite in the Midwest region. However, don’t count out Houston or Oklahoma State, because both had amazing regular seasons and should make it to at least the sweet sixteen. Loyola might be a stretch, but, after a 17-2 season, they could have a lot of potential in this tournament.

In the South, all top four teams have seen much success in the regular season. No. 1 Baylor, along with Arkansas and Purdue are fan favorites in the region. The upper tier of the South, including teams like Texas Tech and Villanova, are favorites and likely to make an impact.

Gonzaga is an obvious favorite in the West and expected to dominate in their division. Some other teams to watch are No. 5 Creighton and No. 6 USC, who both have great odds in the tournament. Don’t be surprised if No. 15 Grand Canyon hangs around for a while as well.

Be sure to get your brackets submitted by Thursday when the First Four games begin with TX Southern vs. Mt. St. Mary’s at 4:10 and get ready for a lot of exciting basketball!