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 has finished the opening-rounds mayhem, this is where we’re at going into the Sweet 16.

(Just the reality, folks; don’t get mad at us if your team didn’t make it this far—or your school isn’t listed below!)

Using our same methodology, these are the only teams left in the brackets we would pick to win this year:

  • Gonzaga: 1st in offensive efficiency, 8th in defensive efficiency
  • Michigan: 8th, 9th
  • Houston: 7th, 11th
  • USC: 15th, 5th

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

  • Baylor: 3rd, 37th
  • Alabama: 28th, 3rd
  • Loyola (IL): 35th, 1st

A third group here fits the distant-outlier profile of possibilities:

  • Florida State: 14th, 29th
  • Arkansas: 37th, 10th

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 Connecticut Huskies made an unlikely run to the championship. But even the latter group fits the 2014 UConn profile more than anything else.

The other seven teams? It would be a huge miracle/upset to see Oregon State, Creighton, Syracuse, UCLA, Oregon, Villanova, or Oral Roberts (!) even reach the Final Four, let alone win it all. Those teams obviously have had great seasons to get to this point, but please don’t bet any these schools to win. Villanova might be a popular sleeper pick due to its recent tourney successes, but the sabermetrics just aren’t there.

We will tune in again next week to see which teams are left standing for the Final Four.

Note: This was the first time since 1983 we did not fill out personal brackets and/or enter a tournament pool. We don’t think that college sports should be played right now, still. Many college students cannot enroll in the in-person courses they need—art studios and science labs, for example—to graduate. With that in mind, the privilege of spoiled athletes to engage in extracurricular activities is completely inequitable and irresponsible.