With the field for the 2021 men's NCAA tournament now official, we're breaking down each team in the field for you in the lead-up to the first tournament in two years. Here's what you need to know about the East region.
1. Michigan (20-4, at-large)
The regular season Big Ten champions have lost three of their last five games. All three of those losses, however, came to teams that made the NCAA tournament. And while the Wolverines are a top seed, they’re facing the prospect of an NCAA tournament without forward Isaiah Livers. He missed the Big Ten tournament loss to Ohio State after re-aggravating a stress fracture in one of his feet. Livers is averaging 13 points and six rebounds a game. An extended absence would be a big loss for the Wolverines.
2. Alabama (24-6, SEC champion)
The Crimson Tide are the champions of the SEC in both football and basketball. If Alabama wins the NCAA tournament it will become the second school after Florida in 2009 to win the national title in both football and men’s basketball in the same season. The Tide is one of the best defensive teams in the country and also attempts over 30 threes per game. Jaden Shackelford leads the team with 14 points per game while Jahvon Quinerly has scored 10 or more in the last 11 games of the season.
3. Texas (19-7, Big 12 champion)
The Longhorns are a top-four seed for the first time since 2011 when they advanced to the Sweet 16. Texas’ guard trio of Andrew Jones, Matt Coleman and Courtney Ramey combine for over 40 points per game. Thanks to forwards Jericho Sims and Greg Brown, Texas was the best rebounding team in the Big 12.
4. Florida State (16-6, at-large)
Is this the year that Florida State makes its first Final Four run since 1972? The Seminoles were a favorite to make the Final Four in 2020 before the tournament was canceled. This season, FSU has been a consistent top-20 team though it’s lost three of its last five games. M.J. Walker leads the team with 13 points per game and shoots 44% from deep on nearly five attempts per game.
5. Colorado (22-8, at-large)
The Buffaloes are in the NCAA tournament for the first time in five seasons and haven’t made a Sweet 16 since 1969 when they were members of the Big 8. Colorado had won eight straight games before losing to Oregon State in the Pac-12 championship game on Saturday night. Colorado’s leading scorer is McKinley Wright IV. He averages 15.5 points per game and leads the team with 5.6 assists a game.
6. BYU (20-6, at-large)
The Cougars were the best team not named Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference. BYU won five straight games before losing to Gonzaga in the conference title game. The Cougars are led by Alex Barcello and his 16 points per game. Barcello shoots over 52% from the field and 49% from three. BYU is also one of the better rebounding teams in the country and averages 30 defensive rebounds per game.
7. UConn (15-7, at-large)
The Huskies ended the regular season with four consecutive wins. Two of them were over eventual Big East tournament champion Georgetown. Sophomore guard James Bouknight leads the team with 19 points per game and shoots over 53% from inside the arc. The Huskies are the 11th-best offensive rebounding team in the country and average over 13 offensive boards per game.
8. LSU (18-9, at-large)
The Tigers ended up as a No. 8 seed despite going 8-4 over their final 12 games of the season and making it to the title game of the SEC tournament. LSU has the No. 5 offense in KenPom.com’s rankings and averages over 82 points per game. Freshman guard Cameron Thomas averages 22.8 points per game despite shooting just 41% from the field and 32% from three on over seven threes a game.
9. St. Bonaventure (16-4, Atlantic 10 champion)
The Bonnies are in the tournament for just the third time in the 2000s after winning the Atlantic 10 regular season and tournament title. St. Bonaventure gives up just 60 points per game as opponents shoot just 39%. The Bonnies are led by four junior guards each averaging over 10 points per game while forward Osun Osunnuyi averages 10.3 points and 9.3 rebounds.
10. Maryland (16-13, at-large)
The Terrapins have the most losses of any at-large team in the tournament. Maryland lost three of its last four games after winning five straight to go to 15-10 at the end of February. Terps games aren’t pretty; Maryland is one of the slowest teams in the country and doesn’t average over 70 points a game. Eric Ayala is the team’s leading scorer with 15 points per game.
11. Michigan State (15-12, at-large)
The Spartans snuck into the tournament to extend their postseason streak to 23 seasons. Michigan State started the season 6-0 before dropping seven of their next nine games to fall to 8-7. Since then, the Spartans were good enough to get to the postseason thanks to wins over Michigan, Illinois and Ohio State over the final six games of the regular season. Junior forward Aaron Henry (15.3) is the only player averaging over 10 points per game this season for MSU.
11. UCLA (17-9, at-large)
The Bruins were one of the last teams in the tournament after losing four straight to end the season. UCLA lost its last three regular-season games and then lost in overtime to Oregon State to open the Pac-12 tournament. The Bruins rank 12th in KenPom.com’s defensive rankings and have five players who average 10 or more points per game.
12. Georgetown (13-12, Big East champion)
The Hoyas were 5-10 on Feb. 9 after losing to Creighton. Since then, Georgetown has gone 8-2 and stormed through the Big East tournament with a 25-point win over the Blue Jays in Saturday’s championship game to make the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2015. Forward Qudus Wahab shoots 59% from the field and averages eight rebounds per game.
13. UNC-Greensboro (21-8, Southern champion)
Coach Wes Miller has led Greensboro to two tournament berths in the last three tournaments after the Spartans hadn’t been to a tournament since 2000. Star senior guard Isaiah Miller averages 19.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and four assists per game. He’s scored over 20 points in each of his last five games and has scored 12 or more points in his last 14 games.
14. Abilene Christian (23-4, Southland champion)
The Wildcats are back in the NCAA tournament for a second consecutive time thanks to a 34-point win over Nicholls State on Saturday. Abilene Christian has won 12 of its last 13 games and lost by seven at Texas Tech in December. The Wildcats are No. 30 in KenPom.com’s adjusted defense rankings and have given up the seventh-fewest points per game in the country.
15. Iona (12-5, MAAC champion)
Rick Pitino’s team played just 13 games in the regular season after two different lengthy breaks during the season because of COVID-19 cases. The second COVID-19 pause ended the team’s regular season after Feb. 20 but Iona was able to participate in the MAAC tournament and won four consecutive games for the league title. If the Gaels want to pull an upset or two they need to stay out of foul trouble. Just two teams averaged more fouls per game this season.
16. Mount St. Mary’s (12-10, Northeast champion)
The Mountaineers are making their sixth NCAA tournament appearance in school history and have never been above a No. 16 seed. Mount St. Mary’s is one of the lowest-scoring teams in the country at just 63.7 points per game. The Mountaineers made the NCAA tournament despite the December transfer of leading scorer Jalen Gibbs after just four games. In his absence, the team has leaned on guard Damian Chonq-Qui. He averages 15 points per game and plays over 36 minutes per game.
16. Texas Southern (16-8, SWAC champion)
The Tigers were 2-7 in the middle of January and 7-8 on Feb. 21 after losing to Prairie View. Since then, Texas Southern has won nine straight games and beat Prairie View by 19 in the SWAC title game on Saturday. Junior Michael Weathers averages 16.5 points per game while forward John Walker is shooting 66% from inside the arc.
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