It was one of the more memorable seasons in decades and now it’s recapping the 2021 NCAAB season time. It almost didn’t start on time, but the 2020-21 college basketball season gave us what last season couldn’t – an NCAA tournament.
Yes, the coronavirus did postpone and eventually cancel some games, but the season went about as well as it could have.
There were two teams that were clearly better than all the rest, blue blood programs that weren’t as good as they usually are, and a glorious March Madness that brought fans everything they wanted. Here’s a look at the 2021 NCAAB season.
The Big Two
If there was ever a season where it was absolutely clear who the best two teams in the country were, it was 2021. Gonzaga was the preseason No. 1 and went unbeaten while ultimately reaching the national final against No. 2 Baylor.
The Bears were the No. 2 team in the nation for most of the season. Baylor had six Quadrant 1 wins in 2021 and the second-best offense in the country … behind Gonzaga!
The Bulldogs played the toughest non-conference schedule in the country and handled it just fine. Head coach Mark Few’s team recorded wins over Kansas, Iowa, West Virginia, Auburn, and Virginia. Oh, and they did it by an average of 14.8 points per game.
Gonzaga shot over 63 percent on all of its two-point attempts. No team in the history of college basketball has even come close to that. Gonzaga and Baylor are the top two teams in the nation in terms of offensive efficiency, and surprisingly, they both rank in the top 25 in the country in defensive efficiency.
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Blue Blood Peril – Recapping the 2021 NCAAB Season
There are ten schools who have the most AP poll appearances of all-time. It’s a familiar list for any college basketball fan: Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, Arizona, Indiana, Michigan State, Syracuse, Louisville and UCLA.
At one point during the 2020-21 college basketball season, none of those ten teams were ranked in the AP Top 25.
In the end, Duke, Indiana, and Kentucky, three of the most storied programs in the sport, would end up not making the NCAA tournament. Indiana fired head coach Archie Miller and Arizona had a self-imposed postseason ban. Not your typical year for blue blood programs.
Big Ten vs. Everyone
Recapping the 2021 NCAAB season, for much of the regular season, the Big Ten was the class of college basketball. When the regular season ended in early March, the final AP Top 25 poll featured four Big Ten teams in the top 10.
Illinois finished No. 3 followed by Michigan at No. 4 and Iowa at No. 5. Ohio State wound up No. 9 and Purdue, ranked 21st, gave the conference five ranked teams.
When it came time for NCAA tournament selection, the Big Ten wound up with nine teams. It was well-deserved. The Big Ten won 56.9 percent of its games. That was the highest among all conferences in the country.
Unfortunately, the conference would watch as eight of those nine exited the tournament. Michigan State didn’t make it past the First Four while Purdue and Ohio State each exited via upset in Round 1.
No. 1 seed Illinois and No. 2 seed Iowa would join Maryland, Rutgers, and Wisconsin in leaving the tourney in the second round. Only Michigan advanced to the tournament’s second weekend.
Michigan, also a No. 1 seed, would fall victim to No. 11 seed UCLA which started its tournament run with a First Four win over Michigan State. The Bruins would become just the second team in tournament history to go from First Four to Final Four. VCU did it back in 2011.
It was a wild 2021 NCAA tournament with a full nine upsets in the first round. The upsets were led by Oral Roberts shocking defeat of No. 2 seed Ohio State. It was just the ninth time that a No. 15 seed won a first-round game.
A full six upsets occurred during the second round. Loyola-Chicago, the Cinderellas of the 2018 tournament, knocked off No. 1 Illinois and Oregon beat No. 2 Iowa leading three Pac-12 teams into the Sweet Sixteen.
UCLA and 12th-seeded Oregon State would win to advance to the Elite Eight before the Bruins upset the Wolverines which earned a trip to the Final Four.
The Pac-12 actually had the second-best winning percentage among all conferences. The Pac-12 won 56.3 percent of its games. That may be why the conference sent three teams to the Elite Eight.
Bettor’s Paradise When Recapping the 2021 NCAAB Season
I hope you were one of the smart bettors what would buy sports picks from Action Sports Picks! For bettors that figured it out, the teams to back against the spread this season were in the Missouri Valley Conference. Drake led the conference most of the season before a number of injuries curtailed their success. Still, the Bulldogs earned a trip to the Big Dance.
Bettors loved the Bulldogs as they finished with a 20-8-1 record ATS. Loyola, which would win the conference, went 18-10- ATS and Missouri State, which toyed with the conference lead a few times, was a very respectable 14-6-2 ATS for the season.