We have been doing this for a few years now, based on past statistical precedent, although we were robbed of the chance last year to find out if we were right like we were in 2019. So now that the 2021 NCAA Tournament is a go, it’s time to revisit the realities as you fill out your silly brackets which you will never perfect—and probably not win, either. Just the reality, folks; don’t get mad at us.

However, here we go with the important stuff … Using our same methodology, these are the only teams we would pick to win this year:

  • Gonzaga: 1st in offensive efficiency, 10th in defensive efficiency
  • Illinois: 7th, 5th
  • Michigan: 6th, 7th
  • Houston: 8th, 16th

Teams that are on the cusp of the top group that can make a moderately predictable run at the title:

  • Baylor: 3rd, 44th
  • Iowa: 2nd, 50th
  • Alabama: 34th, 2nd
  • Loyola (IL): 49th, 1st

A third group here fits the outlier profile of possibilities:

  • Purdue: 23rd, 23rd
  • USC: 30th, 19th
  • Florida State: 10th, 48th
  • Connecticut: 24th, 25th
  • Colorado: 17th, 29th
  • Arkansas: 35th, 14th
  • Texas Tech: 33rd, 24th
  • BYU: 28th, 26th
  • St. Bonaventure: 38th, 17th
  • Texas: 21st, 36th

That’s it. If the winner comes from outside the first two groups, we will be surprised—just like we were in 2014 when the Huskies made an unlikely run to the championship. But even the latter group fits the 2014 UConn profile more than anything else.

Considering recent trends—like the Wolverines losing three of their last five games and one of their senior starters as well—we like the Bulldogs and the Fightin’ Illini to reach the finals (and we’re not alone). The NCAA Tournament has yet to see a small school win it all in the modern era, however, so perhaps Illinois is the best bet here.

(Butler and Gonzaga have reached the finals in the last 10 seasons, but it’s always a bigger school that finds a way to win in the end. Funny how that works …)

However, we are not bettors here: Risking hard-earned money on the emotional mood swings of teenage boys is not high on our recommended list of things to do in 2021. Just putting that out there.

Enjoy the tournament!