The 2021 NCAA Tournament has given us a highest seed total (and seed average) since the field expanded. One of the great joys of the is the way the bracket can flipped on its head in a particular region when a top seed falls, opening up the path for the Cinderella runs that we celebrate every March., with four double-digit seeds making it to the second weekend and helping solidify the
These kinds of runs might not be as possible if the entire field was re-seeded, which is one of the reasons why personally I love the quirks of the bracket process as it stands. But what if the NCAA Tournament followed in the footsteps of other sports, tournaments and leagues with a re-seeding process to set up a more balanced bracket for the second weekend? We've taken a stab at that exact process below, providing both a glimpse of what the Sweet 16 might look like and also a power rankings of sort as we prepare for the weekend action.
Sweet 16 picks and previews for all eight games this weekend. Listen to the latest episode of Eye on College Basketball below.
The process for the seeding was not identical to the NCAA Tournament selection committee, because we're not only taking into consideration what we've seen in the tournament so far but giving it more weight than any two (or three, in UCLA's case) game sample from the regular season. Still, the profile and regular season results matter and contribute to a reset order among the teams still alive in the hunt for a national championship.
Re-seeding the Sweet 16
|We have seen nothing from Gonzaga to suggest it is anything other than the best team in the country and the favorite to win the national championship. Oklahoma made things interesting with a strong start in the second round, but the Zags have too many options as counters when an opponent gets hot. If it's not Jalen Suggs, it's Corey Kispert or Drew Timme, who went for a career-high 30 points against the Sooners. : No. 1|
|Our re-seeding exercise is going to give weight to the profiles and results that helped seed the 68-team field, but if we were only using the 2021 NCAA Tournament results Baylor would have an argument as the No. 1 overall seed. Scott Drew says the Bears are starting to once again look like the team they were before the COVID pause, and the manner with which they dispatched both of their opponents was as impressive as anything we've seen in the tournament so far. Gonzaga had a couple lulls against Oklahoma, but Baylor has been close to perfect for 80 minutes of tournament play. : No. 2|
|A strong performance against LSU showcases that Michigan is indeed capable of achieving many of the same things without Isaiah Livers that it might have with the senior leader in the lineup. The Wolverines got pushed by the best Cam Thomas and Javonte Smart had and in their response saw great play from Eli Brooks and Chaundee Brown, who could end up being an X-factor in the Sweet 16 or Elite Eight. A lot of people sold Michigan stock when Livers went down but that win against LSU was a statement that Juwan Howard's team is still worth being rated as one of the four best teams in the country. : No. 4|
|While Iona was able to make things interesting in the first round, Alabama flexed all of the reasons that it can win a national championship with the way it shot past Maryland on Monday. The Tide shoot a ton of 3-pointers and if they hit them at a 48.5% clip, as they did against the Terps, then there isn't a team in the field that wouldn't struggle to keep up. Of course you're not always going to be lights out from 3-point range, but that's where Alabama's depth, versatility, defense and tempo come in to wear opponents down and allow for easier buckets near the rim. : No. 5|
|No change in the original seeding for Houston relative to its peers on the top lines, but the Cougars do have one of the more advantageous paths to the Final Four now that the No. 1 seed (Illinois), No. 3 seed (West Virginia), No. 4 seed (Oklahoma State), No. 5 seed (Tennessee) and No. 6 seed (San Diego State) all got bounced from the Midwest Region in the first two rounds. The Cougars don't play with the pace or fluidity of some of these other top seeds still alive, but offensive rebounding, defense and the playmaking of Quentin Grimes has helped Houston win every game it has played for more than a month now. : No. 8|
|The great bonus for Arkansas in its 68-66 win against Texas Tech was seeing the Razorbacks win against a quality opponent that differs stylistically. Styles do in fact make fights in the NCAA Tournament and so when Eric Musselman's group was able to scrap its way past Texas Tech it served not only as a historic moment for the proud program that hasn't been to the Sweet 16 since the mid-90s, but also validation that it can win outside of its comfort zone. : No. 9|
|Leonard Hamilton credited some of the uncharacteristically poor perimeter shooting and early mistakes against UNC Greensboro to the anxiety of the tournament, and then the Seminoles bounced back with a quality win against a tough Colorado team. That win against the Buffs was important because it had been more than a month since Florida State had beaten a top-20 KenPom team and the competition is only getting tougher with Michigan up next. : No. 13|
|Count me among the masses that believes Loyola's gross under-seeding was a disservice to the Midwest Region, but instead of piling on the selection committee I get a chance to stake my claim here with a position just above the No. 5 and No. 6 seeds remaining in the tournament. While the elite defensive efficiency and 26-4 record anchors an argument for Loyola as one of the top teams in the country, the win against Illinois included ruthless precision on the offensive end and a stellar performance from Cameron Krutwig. : No. 30|
|Both the quality of opponent and the margin of victory have me sliding USC ahead of the two No. 5 seeds from the Big East remaining in the tournament after the Trojans handed Kansas one of its worst losses in program history. With Evan and Isaiah Mobley anchoring the efforts down low, USC is proving to be one of the elite defensive teams in this tournament. : No. 21|
|While the selection committee seeds based on the profile, Oregon's profile does not match the team that's on the floor for Dana Altman here in March. Starting point guard Will Richardson made his 2020-21 debut on Feb. 4, and after that first game back -- a stunning home loss to Washington State -- the Ducks won 12 of their next 14 games. : No. 25|
|The absence of Collin Gillespie has faded as the key storyline thanks to Jeremiah Robinson-Earl putting together a couple of stellar performances against Winthrop and North Texas. The Wildcats didn't get downgraded here as much as they got jumped by the teams who won against top-three seeds in the second round while Villanova took care of business against a couple of double-digit seeds in the South Regional. : No. 18|
|Similar to Villanova, a team that Creighton seems linked to in every set of rankings, this wasn't a downgrade for the Bluejays in the big picture. It was, however, a downgrade to slot Creighton behind Villanova after the one-point win against UC Santa Barbra in the first round. A double-digit win against Ohio seemed to put Creighton back on track heading into a huge matchup against Gonzaga. : No. 17|
|A slight edge for Syracuse over UCLA since its path to the Sweet 16, against No. 6 seed San Diego State and No. 3 seed West Virginia, was tougher than the Bruins. The biggest key to the Orange making another run to the second weekend is locking down on defense in a way that didn't always show up consistently through the regular season. : No. 41|
|No one else in the NCAA Tournament has more wins than UCLA, but beating a No. 11 seed (Michigan State), a No. 6 seed (BYU) and a No. 14 seed (Abilene Christian) won't quite be enough to power a big move up in these seeding rankings. What should be encouraging to UCLA fans is how Johnny Juzang has ascended to becoming one of the best players in the tournament. : No. 44|
|This has been an incredible run for Wayne Tinkle's team. The Beavers started the Pac-12 tournament with a 14-12 record, facing a likely scenario that the next loss would mark the end of their season. Oregon State proceeded to win the Pac-12 conference tournament and league's automatic bid by beating three NCAA Tournament teams in three consecutive days, including two Sweet 16 teams in UCLA and Oregon. In five straight win-and-go-home scenarios against NCAA Tournament teams, the Beavers have found a way to win. It's one of the most remarkable stories in college basketball here in the month of March. : No. 46|
|Much love to Max Abmas, Kevin Obanor and a Golden Eagles team that has etched its place in NCAA Tournament history with this run. Oral Roberts can run with Arkansas, but I'm not sure they can score more than the Razorbacks or get enough stops to advance to the Elite Eight. The prolific scoring duo of Abmas and Obanor had me considering a bump up, but that run of elimination game wins gives Oregon State the edge. : No. 61|