The process of filling out a March Madness bracket is one of the best things about the NCAA Tournament. Once the games begin, the upsets and buzzer-beaters are incredible, but there is something special about trying to build the perfect bracket.
Figuring out which teams are going to advance to the Final Four is the most crucial aspect of any bracket. Now that the 2021 NCAA Tournament is upon us, let’s take a look at which teams are going to reign supreme in their regions with Final Four picks and predictions.
If you’re looking for NCAA Tournament first round picks, be sure to check out this full guide.
2021 March Madness Final Four Picks
There is no shortage of college basketball storylines during this bizarre and chaotic year. The Gonzaga Bulldogs have a chance to cap off the perfect season with a championship. Meanwhile, teams like Baylor, Michigan, and Illinois are looking to live up to their No. 1 seeds in their respective brackets.
With the way the bracket shakes out, despite a chaotic regular season, we expect to see a lot of chalk in this year’s Final Four picks. Will it happen or will this be another NCAA Tournament with several Cinderellas crashing the party?
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East Region: Florida State Seminoles
Leonard Hamilton is one of the best college basketball coaches in the country, but he doesn’t receive the same fanfare and attention as other big-name guys. Making a Final Four would likely change the perception of Hamilton.
The pedigree is there. The Seminoles have advanced to the Sweet 16 three times and Elite Eight once under Hamilton.
Certainly, the East Region isn’t a cakewalk by any stretch of the imagination, but there is an opportunity for Florida State to strike. Michigan senior forward Isaiah Livers will be out with a foot injury, leaving the Wolverines shorthanded. No doubt, Michigan is still going to be a tough opponent for Florida State should they meet in the Sweet 16, but the Seminoles have a great chance of winning that game. If they do, we think think the momentum carries over and pushes the Seminoles into the Final Four.
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Florida State might be flying under the radar entering the NCAA Tournament, but they are deep with talent. Scottie Barnes was named ACC Freshman of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year, and All-ACC Third Team. RaiQuan Gray joins him on the Third Team. M.J. Walker received Second Team honors.
That trio of Barnes, Gray, and Walker are all averaging double-figures in scoring. Anthony Polite and Balsa Koprivica are averaging 9.4 and 9.2 points per game, respectively. Clearly, the Seminoles have a few guys who can carry the scoring load if need be.
West Region: Gonzaga
The Gonzaga Bulldogs are an absolute buzzsaw this year. Iowa’s Luka Garza is the runaway Naismith Player of the Year candidate, but Gonzaga had three players named as semifinalists — Corey Kispert, Jalen Suggs, and Drew Timme. The Bulldogs are deep at every single position with top-end talent all over the floor.
Mark Few’s team has a chance to make history in a couple of different ways this year. First off, they can win a National Championship for the first time in program history. The furthest run the Bulldogs have made in the NCAA Tournament was a trip to the Championship Game against North Carolina in 2017.
Additionally, Gonzaga can become the first undefeated National Champion since Bobby Knight’s Indiana team did it back in 1976. Seven men’s college basketball teams have completed the perfect season before, and Gonzaga appears well positioned to become the eighth.
There is no such thing as a “safe bet” once March Madness begins, but Gonzaga to the Final Four feels like the biggest lock of any of these picks. There are bound to be roadblocks on the way to West Region dominance, but we still love Gonzaga to make the Final Four.
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South Region: Baylor
Forgive us for going with more chalk here. Baylor is the No. 1 seed in the South Region and they have been one of the favorites to win a National Championship all year long. The Bears were undefeated until a late February loss to the Kansas Jayhawks.
They also unexpectedly dropped a Big 12 Tournament semifinal to Oklahoma State.
But don’t let those two losses distract you from the fact that Baylor was absolutely dominant this season. Oklahoma State guard and likely No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft, Cade Cunningham, won Big 12 Player of the Year honors, but Baylor’s Jared Butler and Davion Mitchell were both named to the All-Big 12 First Team.
The Bears have the talent to make a deep run into March Madness and the region they are in could pave the way for a trip to the Final Four.
The South Region has all the makings of the upset bracket early on. No. 5 Villanova has a tough matchup against Winthrop in the First Round, as does No. 3 Arkansas against Colgate.
If the smaller schools are pulling upsets against the top seeds (and Baylor can avoid that fate), the Bears could have a relatively easy path out of the South Region. With that said, No. 2 Ohio State looms large as a potential Elite Eight opponent.
The Buckeyes were one of the best teams in the Big Ten this season and they will scratch and claw for a shot at a Final Four.
Midwest Region: Illinois
The Illinois Fighting Illini came on strong at the end of the season. Ayo Dosunmo and Kofi Cockburn led Illinois to a Big Ten Championship and put themselves over the top as a clear No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Unfortunately for the Illini, the Midwest Region might be the toughest in the entire bracket.
Oklahoma State, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Houston are all strong sides with legitimate paths to a Final Four. But even before Illinois faces any of those schools, they will need to beat Loyola Chicago or Georgia Tech in the Second Round.
Loyola-Chicago is a familiar name after their stunning run to the Final Four in 2018. The Ramblers are not exactly the plucky underdog that they were back then. And don’t sleep on Georgia Tech either. The Yellow Jackets cruised to an ACC Championship by beating Florida State in the finals. Both of these teams might be under-seeded a little bit here.
Still, Illinois is playing its best basketball of the season and they have two of the absolute best players in the country in Dosunmo and Cockburn.
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