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Andy Wittry | NCAA.com | February 1, 2021

The 2021 NCAA tournament bracket, predicted by Andy Katz 2 months from Selection Sunday

First NCAA tournament bracket predictions of 2021

NCAA.com's Andy Katz is out with his first March Madness tournament bracket of 2021 based on everything he has seen this season, through Jan. 4.

In 2019, Katz filed almost a dozen bracket predictions throughout the season. In his final prediction before Selection Sunday, he got 67 of the 68 teams correct.

Let's take a look at where Katz projects this year's?tournament field?almost halfway?into the regular season and about two months from Selection Sunday, March 14.??(Tap or click here to to open the bracket in a new window.)

Andy Katz's 2021 NCAA bracket projection, made on Jan. 5

And here's that same bracket in table form.

? Region region region region
1 Gonzaga Texas Baylor Villanova
16 Grambling/Coppin State Southern Utah Stony Brook/Jacksonville Bryant
? ? ? ? ?
2 Iowa Michigan Tennessee Illinois
15 UC Irvine Cleveland State Siena Colgate
? ? ? ? ?
3 Dayton Creighton Wisconsin Kansas
14 Montana New Mexico State Hofstra Georgia State
? ? ? ? ?
4 Missouri Rutgers Oregon Minnesota
13 Belmont South Dakota State Furman Toledo
? ? ? ? ?
5 Ohio State UCLA Clemson West Virginia
12 Western Kentucky LSU/UConn Stanford/Xavier Winthrop
? ? ? ? ?
6 Saint Louis Virginia Tech Texas Tech Florida
11 Drake Boise State North Carolina Marquette
? ? ? ? ?
7 Louisville Arkansas Michigan State Virginia
10 Oklahoma Duke BYU Purdue
? ? ? ? ?
8 Indiana Alabama Northwestern Colorado
9 Oklahoma State San Diego State Seton Hall Florida State

Let's take a closer look at Katz's bracket.

Gonzaga, Baylor, Villanova and Texas earn No. 1 seeds

It shouldn't be a surprise that these are the four No. 1 seeds in Katz's projected bracket. They're ranked No. 1 through No. 4 in the latest AP poll, in that order. Gonzaga and Baylor debuted at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the NET rankings, with Villanova and Texas also in the top 10.

The last time the Zags were a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament was in 2019, when they advanced to the Elite Eight. They were also a No. 1 seed in 2017, when they were national runner-up, and in 2013. Baylor has never been a No. 1 seed, although the Bears could've been in contention for one in 2020.

Villanova has previously earned a No. 1 seed four times under coach Jay Wright: 2006, 2015, 2017 and 2018. The Wildcats won the national championship the last time they were a No. 1 seed.

Texas earned its first and only No. 1 seed in 2003, when the Longhorns made the Final Four under Rick Barnes.

It's worth noting that Villanova has already beaten Texas this season —?a 68-64 win in Austin — while Texas and Baylor will face off in the Big 12.

The Big Ten doesn't have any No. 1 seeds, but it has lots of everything else

Katz has three Big Ten teams on the No. 2 seed line —?Michigan, Illinois and Iowa. In total, there are 11 Big Ten teams in Katz's predicted tournament bracket.

Wisconsin is a projected No. 3 seed, Rutgers and Minnesota are No. 4 seeds, Ohio State is a No. 5 seed, Michigan State is a No. 7 seed, Northwestern and Indiana are on the No. 8 seed line, and Purdue is a projected No. 10 seed. Through Jan. 4, all 11 teams are in the top 50 of the NET rankings.

If some or all of those projections hold, here are some notable milestones that could be achieved and potential tournament droughts that could end:

  • Northwestern could make the NCAA tournament for just the second time ever, after it made it for the first time in 2017.
  • Rutgers is projected to make the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1991.
  • Illinois is projected to make the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2013.
  • Indiana is projected to make the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2016.
  • Minnesota could earn its best seed since it was a No. 1 seed in the 1997 NCAA Tournament, if the Gophers earn a No. 4 seed or better. Katz currently has the Gophers as a projected No. 4 seed. Four of their last five tournament appearances were as a double-digit seed and they haven't made the second weekend of the tournament since 1997. Minnesota's 1997 NCAA Tournament appearance was later vacated.
  • Iowa could earn its best seed since 2006, when it earned a No. 3 seed. The Hawkeyes have received a No. 10, No. 7, No. 7 and No. 11 seed, respectively, in their last four tournament appearances.

Recent national champions in the double digits

Duke and North Carolina combined to win three national championships last decade and the Tar Heels were the national runners-up in 2016, so the two Tobacco Road rivals combined to appear in 40 percent of the championship games from 2010 through 2019.

In Katz's predicted bracket for 2021, Duke is a No. 10 seed and North Carolina is a No. 11 seed.

Kentucky, which won the 2012 national championship and lost in the 2014 national championship, isn't in the tournament picture for Katz after starting 2-6.

A breakdown of the bubble

It's still early in conference play, obviously, but here's a look at the teams that just made the cut for Katz's tournament projections.

LSU and UConn are projected to play in one First Four matchup, with Stanford and Xavier in the other. All four schools are No. 12 seeds.

The projected No. 11 seeds are Drake, North Carolina, Marquette and Boise State.

Here's Katz's full field of 68:

RANK | SEED | TEAM | CONFERENCE
1. 1 -- Gonzaga | WCC
2. 1 -- Baylor | Big 12
3. 1 -- Villanova | Big East
4. 1 -- Texas | Big 12
5. 2 -- Michigan | Big Ten
6. 2 -- Illinois | Big Ten
7. 2 -- Tennessee | SEC
8. 2 -- Iowa | Big Ten
9. 3 -- Houston | American
10. 3 -- Wisconsin | Big Ten
11. 3 -- Kansas | Big 12
12. 3 -- Creighton | Big East
13. 4 -- Rutgers | Big Ten
14. 4 -- Minnesota | Big Ten
15. 4 -- Missouri | SEC
16. 4 -- Oregon | Pac-12
17. 5 -- Ohio State | Big Ten
18. 5 --- West Virginia | Big 12
19. 5 -- Clemson | ACC
20. 5 -- UCLA | Pac-12
21. 6 -- Virginia Tech | ACC
22. 6 -- Florida | SEC
23. 6 -- Texas Tech | Big 12
24. 6 -- Saint Louis | A-10
25. 7 -- Louisville | ACC
26. 7 -- Virginia | ACC
27. 7 -- Michigan State | Big Ten
28. 7 -- Arkansas | SEC
29. 8 -- Colorado | Pac-12
30. 8 -- Alabama | SEC
31. 8 -- Northwestern | Big Ten
32. 8 -- Indiana | Big Ten
33. 9 -- Oklahoma State | Big 12
34. 9 -- Seton Hall | Big East
35. 9 -- San Diego State | Mountain West
36. 9 -- Florida State | ACC
37. 10 -- Duke | ACC
38. 10 -- BYU | WCC
39. 10 -- Purdue | Big Ten
40. 10 -- Oklahoma | Big 12
41. 11 -- Drake | Missouri Valley
42. 11 -- North Carolina | ACC
43. 11 -- Marquette | Big East
44. 11 -- Boise State | Mountain West
45. 11 -- LSU | SEC
46. 11 -- Stanford | Pac-12
47. 12 -- UConn | Big East
48. 12 -- Xavier | Big East
49. 12 -- Winthrop | Big South
50. 12 -- Western Kentucky | C-USA
51. 13 -- Furman | Southern
52. 13 -- Belmont | OVC
53. 13 -- Toledo | MAC
54. 13 -- South Dakota State | Summit
55. 14 -- New Mexico State | WAC
56. 14 -- Georgia State | Sun Belt
57. 14 -- Hofstra | CAA
58. 14 -- Abilene Christian | Southland
59. 15 -- UC Irvine | Big West
60. 15 -- Colgate | Patriot
61. 15 -- Siena | MAAC
62. 15 -- Cleveland State | Horizon
63. 16 -- Southern Utah | Big Sky
64. 16 -- Bryant | NEC
65. 16 -- Stony Brook | America East
66. 16 -- Jacksonville | A-Sun
67. 16 -- Grambling | SWAC
68. 16 -- Coppin State | MEAC

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