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Gonzaga is the No. 1 overall seed in the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament.

https://www.foxnews.com/sports/gonzaga-top-seed-ncaa-mens-basketball-tournament-bracket

GO Zags!

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Gonzaga is No. 1 overall seed as NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament bracket is revealed

Gonzaga, Baylor, Illinois and Michigan are the top seeds in the tournament.

By Ryan Gaydos | Fox News

Gonzaga is the No. 1 overall seed in the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament.

The undefeated Bulldogs, fresh off a West Coast Conference championship, will play the winner of the opening round matchup between Norfolk State and Appalachian State.

Norfolk State won the MEAC championship and Appalachian State won the Sun Belt Conference title to earn automatic bids in the tournament.

Baylor, Illinois and Michigan are the other No. 1 seeds.

Baylor will play the No. 16 seed Hartford. Illinois will play the No. 16 seed Drexel. Michigan will play the winner between Mount St. Mary’s and Texas Southern.

Out of the No. 1 seeds, Gonzaga and Illinois are the only teams to win their conference tournaments.

The men’s basketball tournament will begin with the First Four on March 18. The first games will be played at the Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington and the Mackey Arena in Lafayette. The championship will be held on April 5. Lucas Oil Stadium is also a host site.

The NCAA will allow a limited number of fans for the men’s tournament in each round. Each game will carry a 25% capacity with social distancing. The NCAA said, "Event capacity will include all participants, essential staff and family members of each participating team’s student-athletes and coaches and a reduced number of fans. All attendees must wear face coverings and physically distance during the event. Thorough cleaning, disinfecting and safety measures will be a priority in all venues."

Virginia, who made the tournament despite being taken out of the ACC tournament due to a coronavirus issue, is the defending men’s champion.

The round of 64 will be played Friday and Saturday but times have not been revealed.

 

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The 13 biggest takeaways from the men’s NCAA Tournament’s opening round

This is what we learned in the opening round of March Madness.

America had to wait 731 days for the return of the NCAA tournament after the pandemic canceled last year’s postseason in college basketball. With a bubble setup for the men’s tournament around Indianapolis and the women’s tournament in San Antonio, the greatest sporting event in the world made its return.

The men’s tournament lived up to the hype through the first two days. We got an incredible opening round that featured four teams ranked No. 13 or higher advancing to the next round. The round of 64 gave us upsets, game-winning shots, new cult heroes to adore, and a remaining field of 32 teams that should make for a fantastic finish.

With round of 32 play getting underway Sunday and Monday, we decided to look back at the programs, players, and moments that made the first round so much fun. Everyone please just stay safe and stay healthy, and we should have an exciting conclusion to this tournament.

1. Covid is wrecking havoc on the tournament

If the NCAA thought a bubble was going to save the tournament from wrath of the virus, they were totally wrong. The tournament got off to an awful start when Georgia Tech star Moses Wright was ruled out with a positive test for his team’s game against Loyola-Chicago. The Yellow Jackets would lose without him. The Oklahoma Sooners also got bad news when point guard De’Vion Harmon was ruled out with a positive test, but the team was still able to beat Mizzou without him in the 8-9 matchup.

The worst news of the weekend hit Saturday evening when No. 10 seed VCU was forced to withdraw because of multiple positive tests. Oregon advanced in a no contest. It’s a devastating end to the season for the Rams, and the worst nightmare for every team in the field. Hopefully VCU has their cases under control and everyone comes out healthy. It turns out this tournament was compromised before we could even get through the first round.

2. Everyone’s bracket was busted before the end of the first round

Don’t feel bad too bad if your bracket has more red than black on it right now. It only took one full day of March Madness action to bust almost every bracket in the world.

Of the 14.7 million brackets entered into ESPN, only 108 were still perfect after day one. That’s what happens when a No. 15 seed and No. 13 seed win on the same day. Day two at the tournament wiped out the last remaining perfect brackets after No. 13 seed Ohio earned an upset win over No. 4 Virginia. The perfect brackets couldn’t even last until No. 14 seed Abilene Christian’s amazing win over Texas in the last game of the first round.

There is not one perfect bracket remaining as we start the round of 32. Amazing.

3. There were a historic amount of upsets

This is the first time in tournament history four teams seeded at No. 13 or higher advanced to the round of 32, according to CBS Sports. No. 14 seed Abilene Christian’s amazing win over No. 3 Texas in the final game of Saturday night might have been the best game of the tournament so far. No. 13 Ohio, No. 15 Oral Roberts, and No. 13 North Texas also pulled out first round wins.

Every seed but the No. 16s won a game in the opening round.

4. Georgetown’s storybook run to March Madness came to a quick end

Head coach Patrick Ewing led his alma mater Georgetown back to the NCAA tournament with a Cinderella run to the championship at the Big East tournament in Madison Square Garden last week. The Hoyas entered the conference tournament as a No. 8 seed before winning four games in four days to punch their first ticket to the big dance under Ewing.

It was a great story, but it was short-lived. The Hoyas were given a No. 12 seed and matchup with Colorado in the first round, and promptly got blown out, 96-73. The Buffalos caught fire from beyond the arc, hitting 16-of-25 three-point attempts on the day (Georgetown hit half as many triples) to turn the game into a rout midway through the first half.

Ewing had to patch the roster together after the program lost numerous key players to transfer last year. Hopefully this run to the tournament is the start of great things to come for his Hoyas.

5. Syracuse always wins when you least expect them to

It seems like Syracuse is the last team picked for the NCAA tournament every year. It happened again this season, with the Orange just barely sliding in as a No. 11 seed despite many projecting the program would be passed over for an at-large bid on Selection Sunday.

We’ve seen the Orange go to the Final Four as a No. 10 seed in 2016, and make a run to the Sweet 16 as a No. 11 seed in 2018. Of course Syracuse won its first game again this year, defeating No. 6 seed San Diego State, 78-62, in the opening round on Friday.

The star for the Orange was Jim Boeheim’s son Buddy, a junior wing who popped off for 30 points on 7-of-10 shooting from three-point range:

Cuse has a game with No. 3 seed West Virginia looming. Is another deep tournament run in store?

6. Rutgers and Oregon State are power conference Cinderellas

If Syracuse winning again as a double-digit seed doesn’t exactly feel like a heartwarming story, wins by Rutgers and Oregon State certainly do.

The Scarlet Knights hadn’t made the tournament since 1991 and had not won a game since 1983, but all that changed on Friday. No. 10 seed Rutgers won a nail-biter against No. 7 Clemson, 60-56, to force a second round matchup against No. 2 seed Houston.

The Beavers had to win four games in four days in the Pac-12 tournament to earn their automatic bid just to make the NCAA tournament. They were the least popular No. 12 seed picked for an upset in ESPN’s bracket challenge, but they blew out Tennessee from the opening tip. It’s Oregon State’s first NCAA tournament win since 1982.

7. The top NBA draft prospects are marching on

We had Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham, USC’s Evan Mobley, and Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs projected as the first three picks in our latest 2021 NBA mock draft before the tournament. Each player helped lead their team to an opening round victory to continue their college careers at least one more game.

Cunningham only scored one point in the first half against Liberty because of foul trouble, but took over the game in the final 20 minutes to help his team advance. Oklahoma State will now play Oregon State in an identical abbreviation, identical color scheme matchup.

Mobley was dominant for USC, finishing with 17 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks in the win. Suggs also coasted as Gonzaga smoked No. 16 seed Norfolk State.

8. Illinois vs. Loyola-Chicago is the marquee game of the round of 32

The top-seeded Illini look like a national title favorite right now. No. 8 seed Loyola-Chicago went to the Final Four in 2018, and might be even better this year with a couple key holdovers left from that team. This feels like the best game of the second round, and it’s a shame it’s happening in the round of 32. Read our extensive preview of Illinois vs. Loyola-Chicago here.

This will only be the third meeting in men’s NCAA tournament history between two schools from Illinois, and the first since DePaul beat Illinois State on their way to the Sweet 16 in 1984. Both the Illini and Ramblers were top-10 overall teams in the KenPom efficiency rankings and the NET rankings. We could be in for a thriller on Sunday afternoon.

9. Jason Preston is your new favorite player

No. 13 seed Ohio was a trendy upset pick against the No. 4 seed Virginia Cavaliers, and the Bobcats got the job done with a 62-58 victory powered by their junior point guard Jason Preston. Preston has one of the most inspiring stories in college basketball as a totally unranked recruit who barely scored on his own high school team as a senior. After blowing up at a grassroots tournament after he graduated, Preston was convinced to do a prep school year playing basketball, where he eventually received an offer from Ohio.

Preston went off for 11 points, 13 rebounds, and eight assists in the win for Ohio. A late growth spurt has pushed the point guard to 6’4, and he’s developed into one of the best passers in the country while also averaging more than 16 points per game.

Ohio’s tournament run might not be over yet. The Bobcats now face No. 5 seed Creighton in the round of 32.

10. UC Santa Barbara was so close to an upset

No. 12 seed UC Santa Barbara had No. 5 Creighton on the ropes throughout their opening round matchup. The Gauchos had a chance to win the game on the last possession, but they just missed a go-ahead layup with two seconds left.

We love the glory that comes with the NCAA tournament, but it’s easy to forget March can also be the cruelest month.

11. North Texas won its first tournament game ever behind Javion Hamlet, but his awesome dad stole the show

The Mean Green had never won an NCAA tournament game in program history when they entered the field as a No. 13 seed against Purdue. That streak is over. North Texas held on for a thrilling overtime victory, 78-69, over Matt Painter’s Boilermakers.

The star of the night for North Texas was guard Javion Hamlet, who had no scholarship offers coming out of high school. Now a senior, Hamlet went off for 24 points, 12 rebounds, and five assists in 43 minutes to help bring his team the victory. While it happened, his dad was going wild in the stands supporting his son.

North Texas now faces No. 5 seed Villanova in the round of 32. We are all Mean Green fans.

12. The No. 1 seeds rolled, but it’s about to get a lot harder

There was no UMBC this year. The four No. 1 seeds — Gonzaga, Baylor, Illinois, and Michigan — each squashed their opponents without breaking a sweat. Things will get more difficult in the round of 32. The Illini faces a tough Loyola-Chicago team, Gonzaga has to take on Oklahoma, Michigan faces LSU, and Baylor has Wisconsin. There isn’t an easy game in the bunch.

13. Oral Roberts pulled the biggest upset of the tournament

A No. 15 seed had only beaten a No. 2 seed eight times in tournament history heading into this year. Oral Roberts became No. 9 on Friday by shocking Ohio State, 75-72, in the opening round behind terrific performances from sophomore guard Max Abmas and junior big man Kevin Obanor.

Abmas led DI in scoring this season at 24.2 points per game, and popped off for 29 points in the win over the Buckeyes. Obanor was just as good, posting 30 points and 11 rebounds in the win. The Golden Eagles now face No. 7 seed Florida. The Gators shouldn’t take them lightly.

Now enjoy some dunks

Dunks! We all love them. There were lots of cool ones in the opening round. Here are a few of our favorites.

Jalen Suggs took this lob off the backboard and slammed it home. That’s a future All-Star NBA point guard right there.

This poster by Anthony Duruji came in the first game of Friday’s slate, and immediately set the tone for what was to come.

Drake fell in the opening round, but this might be the best dunk of March Madness so far.

The round of 32 is going to be so much fun. Stay healthy and stay safe, everyone.

Like sports and shenanigans?

Subscribe to It Seemed Smart, SB Nation's new podcast about sportspeople cheating poorly.

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Soupeod

https://www.manilatimes.net/2021/04/05/sports/gonzaga-baylor-seal-ncaa-title-showdown/859994/

Gonzaga, Baylor seal NCAA title showdow

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INDIANAPOLIS: Baylor made a mockery of the first Final Four game, stifling Houston for a chance at the program’s first national title.

Gonzaga made miracles happen, winning on one of the greatest shots in NCAA Tournament history.

The showdown between Baylor and Gonzaga that was called off in December because of the pandemic is finally back on, with the biggest stakes of all: The two best teams all season will play for the national championship on Monday (Tuesday in Manila).

The wait was worth it. The Bears opened the first Final Four in two years by overwhelming Houston, 78-59, cruising to their first national championship game since 1948.

Gonzaga’s free-flowing offense was struck down in the nightcap by UCLA, who slogged the game down enough to get it to overtime. Freshman Jalen Suggs came to Bulldogs’ rescue, banking in a 3-pointer from just inside the half court line at the buzzer for a 93-90 win.

“At the end of it, you could tell how both the staff and all the players reacted that it was an all-timer,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said.

The bid for the first undefeated team since Indiana in 1976 is still intact. “It was nuts. I still can’t speak,” Suggs said. “I have a million things going on in my head. I just can’t believe that it happened.”

Baylor had seemed to lose some of its defensive mojo during a three-week Covid-19 pause late in the season. The rotations, not as sharp. The closeouts, not quite as close. But the Bears (27-2) rolled through the first four NCAA Tournament games, winning at a nearly 15-points clip, and seemed to have an extra jolt of energy in their first Final Four game since 1950.

Flying around Lucas Oil Stadium, Baylor had the Cougars (28-4) stumbling across the floor with wave after wave of defenders. They made every shot a chore for Houston, switching or trapping ball screens to prevent open looks and collapsing in the paint whenever the Cougars did break free.

A defensive demolition that bodes well for the title game against the ultra-efficient Zags. UCLA’s upset bid against college basketball’s juggernaut hinged on two big factors: bogging down the game and making shots.

The Bruins (22-10) did both to perfection in the first half. The bogging down came via the slow roll. With coach Mick Cronin giving slow-down hand gestures, UCLA refused to run even when it had opportunities and methodically worked its offense in half court sets.

The shot making part is something UCLA has been doing all through the bracket. Tough shots have fallen since the Bruins arrived in Indy and they kept dropping in the Final Four — 15 of 26, 4 of 7 from 3.

All those shots going in meant fewer rebounds, in turn meaning fewer opportunities for the Bulldogs to get out and do what they do best: run. Gonzaga made 17 of 28 shots, but only led 45-44 at halftime.

The Zags (31-0) were in a similar position in the West Coast Conference Tournament title game. They trailed by 14 in the first half, found their rhythm and won by 10.

The Bruins wouldn’t let it happen to them. They kept making shots, taking it down to the wire.

Drew Timme took a late charge against Johnny Juzang in regulation to send it to overtime. After Juzang scored on a putback, Suggs provided the did-that-just-happen flourish, dribbling over the half-court and letting it fly for the first buzzer-beater of the tournament.

A miracle finish, setting up what is sure to be a mesmerizing title game college basketball fans have waited two years to see.

 

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