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Following a one-year absence due to COVID-19, the NCAA Tournament has made a triumphant return in 2021 and has once again proven why this wonderful time of year is known as March Madness.

Over the first two rounds, college basketball fans witnessed a whirlwind of upsets as many of the tourney’s favorites were bounced much earlier than expected, including the top-seeded Illinois Fighting Illini, who were soundly defeated by Loyola-Chicago in the round of 32 as Sister Jean watched from the stands.

The Big Ten as a whole, which sent nine teams to the tourney, the highest of any conference, was extremely disappointing as only Juwan Howard and the Michigan Wolverines remain standing heading into the Sweet 16 and will next take on the No. 4 seed in the East, the Florida State Seminoles.

But what if teams in the Sweet 16 of the 2021 NCAA Tournament were actually reseeded from 1-16 into one big bracket based on the results of the first two rounds? That’s obviously never going to happen but we thought we’d have some fun with it anyway.

Now, while we could easily sit here and go through every single team and how each performed over the first week of the tourney, you’ve likely already heard all of that given the extensive coverage of this tournament just during the television coverage alone.

So we’re just going to keep it simple here and give you a new bracket based on what we know about the actual seeding, such as undefeated Gonzaga being the No. 1 overall seed, which means they would match up with the lowest seed remaining in the tourney, 15th-seeded Oral Roberts. We know that Baylor was the higher-ranked top seed so they’ll get the new No. 2 slot in this bracket while Michigan will get the No. 3 seed. Make sense?

There are obviously a few other instances in which teams have the same seed but we’ll address those as we roll along.

What the actual Sweet 16 of the 2021 NCAA Tournament looks like

Before we get into what a new bracket for the 2021 NCAA Tournament might look like, let’s first take a look at what the actual Sweet 16 looks like heading into Saturday’s games.


  • (1) Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. (5) Creighton Bluejays
  • (6) USC Trojans vs. (7) Oregon Ducks


  • (1) Michigan Wolverines vs. (4) Florida State Seminoles
  • (2) Alabama Crimson Tide vs. (11) UCLA Bruins


  • (1) Baylor Bears vs. (5) Villanova Wildcats
  • (3) Arkansas Razorbacks vs. (15) Oral Roberts Golden Eagles


  • (8) Loyola-Chicago Ramblers vs. (12) Oregon State Beavers
  • (11) Syracuse Orange vs. (2) Houston Cougars

The top half of our new NCAA Tournament bracket…

So let’s take a look at what the top half of our new NCAA Tournament bracket would look like.

As mentioned, the top overall seed, Gonzaga, would take on Oral Roberts, who is just playing phenomenal basketball heading into the Sweet 16. The winner of that matchup would take on the winner of Villanova and Creighton, the two No. 5 seeds currently remaining in the tourney. The reason Villanova would get the No. 8 seed in this bracket is due to the fact that they finished higher in the final AP poll heading into the NCAA Tournament. And let’s be honest here…they’ve simply played better basketball over the first two rounds.

Both remaining No. 2 seeds would also be here in the top half. Given the fact that Alabama finished ahead of Houston in that final AP poll, we’ve got them as the No. 4 seed in our new bracket while the Cougars get the No. 5 spot. In this scenario, Houston would match up with Loyola-Chicago, who are a dangerous opponent for anyone right now. Just ask Illinois.

  • (1) Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. (16) Oral Roberts Golden Eagles
  • (8) Villanova Wildcats vs. (9) Creighton Bluejays
  • (5) Houston Cougars vs. (12) Loyola-Chicago Ramblers
  • (4) Alabama Crimson Tide vs. (13) Syracuse Orange

…and the bottom half

2021 NCAA Tournament March Madness logo
NCAA Tournament logo | Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

As for the bottom half of our new NCAA Tournament bracket, it features two of the three remaining No. 1 seeds. As mentioned, Baylor gets the nod over Michigan as our new No. 2 and would square off with Oregon State. Michigan would take on UCLA, who were given the No. 14 seed here as they’re obviously the lesser of the two remaining No. 11 seeds due to the fact they were forced to compete in one of the play-in games.

  • (6) Arkansas Razorbacks vs. (11) Oregon Ducks
  • (3) Michigan Wolverines vs. (14) UCLA Bruins
  • (7) Florida State Seminoles vs. (10) USC Trojans
  • (2) Baylor Bears vs. (15) Oregon State Beavers

So there you have it. A new NCAA Tournament bracket would certainly create some interesting matchups, some of which could actually happen in the Elite Eight depending on how the actual Sweet 16 plays out.


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