Pac-12 Underrated w/ 4 Teams in Sweet 16, Big Ten Overrated w/ 1 Alive
After the first two rounds of the 2021 March Madness tournament, it’s safe to say that public vastly overrated the Big Ten, while so-called experts highly underrated the Pac-12. Four out of five Pac-12 teams that earned bids to March Madness are still alive, whereas only one out of nine Big Ten teams remain in the tournament.
Oregon State, Oregon, UCLA, and USC are all alive. Colorado is the lone Pac-12 team to bust. Overall in March Madness this year, The Pac-12 posted a 10-1 record, which includes a play-in game won by UCLA.
The ACC and Big 12 both sent seven teams to the Big Dance. Baylor remains the only Big 12 team alive out of seven with eliminations from Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Tech, West Virginia, Kansas, and Oklahoma.
Syracuse and FSU make up just two out of seven ACC teams still alive. North Carolina, Virginia, Clemson, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech were all bounced.
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The SEC sent six teams to March Madness, but only #3 Arkansas and #2 Alabama remain. A pair of #5 seeds, Creighton and Villanova, are two of the four Big East teams that are still alive.
The American (Houston), WCC (Gonzaga), and Missouri Valley (Loyola Chicago) still have teams remaining. Oral Roberts was the lone team from the Summit Conference and they represent the only single-team conference in the Sweet 16.
Big Ten, Big Bust
The Big Ten drew a slew of attention this year as the strongest of the power conferences. At one point, three Big Ten teams occupied the AP Top 5 Poll.
The NCAA March Madness selection committee sent nine teams from the Big Ten to the tournament this year, more than any other conference, including two #1 seeds and one #2 seed. #1 Michigan is the only Big Ten squad that advanced to the Sweet 16.
#2 Ohio State was knocked out of the first round in a stunning upset by #15 Oral Roberts, who made history as the ninth team in history to pull off a #15 vs #2 upset.
#4 Purdue made an early exit when they ran into Javion Hamlet and the #13 North Texas Mean Green.
#1 Illinois were ambushed in the second round by Sister Jean and #8 Loyola Chicago.
#2 Iowa bowed out in the Round of 32 when #7 Oregon ran roughshod over Luka Garza and the Buckeyes. #9 Wisconsin were knocked out in the second round by #1 Baylor.
#10 seeds Maryland and Rutgers won their opening round matches against #7 seeds, but they were eliminated in the second round.
In the play-in game, Michigan State lost to UCLA to determine the #11 seed.
Through the first two rounds and play-in games, the Big Ten recorded a 7-8 record in 2021 March Madness.
A west coast team has not crowned a March Madness champion since Lute Olson and Arizona won in 1997. Undefeated Gonzaga from the WCC has the inside track as the most-likely team from the west to cut down the nets. However, the Pac-12 make up 25% of the remaining field.
At least one Pac-12 team will definitely meet their fate in the next round. Two Pac-12 teams square off in the Sweet 16 with #6 USC and #7 Oregon throwing down in the West regional. Freshman Evan Mobley from USC will be a future lottery pick and scouts considered the best big man available in the upcoming 2021 NBA Draft. Along with his older brother Isaiah, the Mobley brothers hope to continue the Trojans march to the Final Four.
#11 UCLA and #2 Alabama slug it out in the East Regional to determine a trip to the Elite 8. UCLA has been the biggest surprise of the tournament considering they were a bubble team and playing without their star player, senior point guard Chris Smith, who tore his ACL in the first week of January.
The hottest team in the tournament, the #12 Oregon State Beavers, earned a tough draw against #8 Loyola Chicago Ramblers. Loyola Chicago played the role of spoiler and bracket buster once again this season when they toppled #1 Illinois in the second round.
Meanwhile, #5 Colorado is the only Pac-12 team that busted. Colorado demolished #12 Georgetown in the first round. Patrick Ewing’s Hoyas could not keep up with the Colorado Buffs.
In the second round, Colorado played one of their worst games of the year against #4 FSU. Due to the tragic circumstances with a mass shooting in Boulder hours before tipoff, several of the players struggled with keeping their heads in the game.