March Madness 2021 tips off with the “First Four” and heads to first-round games

In this March 16, 2020, file photo, official March Madness 2020 tournament basketballs are displayed in a storeroom at the CHI Health Center Arena, in Omaha, Neb. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

AP

In this March 16, 2020, file photo, official March Madness 2020 tournament basketballs are displayed in a storeroom at the CHI Health Center Arena, in Omaha, Neb. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

By Brooklyn Stalo

All the exciting basketball festivities of March Madness began this past weekend on March 14 with “Selection Sunday” in Indianapolis, Indiana. In this NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball college tournament, teams will compete to decide who the real champions are this year. With NBA talent scouts in the bleachers, the top 68 college teams are going to be working their hardest for these rounds of Playoffs before the Championship Game.

The last March Madness was played in 2019, due to the Coronavirus impacting the 2020 sports year, where Virginia Tech won the big game against Texas Tech.

Zion Williamson of Duke came out of the year an amazing player as a power forward and went on to play for the New Orleans Pelicans in the NBA.

After Williamson moved forward with his career in the NBA, the top five players this season to keep an eye on are Luke Garza on Iowa State, Cade Cunningham on Oklahoma State, Ayo Dosunmu on the University of Illinois, Marcus Zegarowski on Creighton University and Jared Butler for Baylor University. These players could potentially get selected in the NBA lottery.

The top five teams expected to join this year’s playoffs are Gonzaga University, Baylor University, Michigan State, Ohio State and the University of Illinois. Due to their stellar stats and highly talented players, at least one of these teams will go head-to-head with another, as long as they bring their beautifully terror-stricken A-game to the battlefield.

In this NCAA Division 1 men's basketball college tournament, teams will compete to decide who the real champions are this year.
All the exciting basketball festivities of March Madness began this past weekend on March 14 with “Selection Sunday” in Indianapolis, Indiana. Illustration by Brooklyn Stalo

For the “First Four” that played on March 18, Norfolk State defeated Appalachian State 54-53, Drake vs. Wichita State came out with the Drake Bulldogs on top 53-52, Texas Southern beat Mount St. Mary’s 60-52 and UCLA was victorious over Michigan State 86-80. These teams tipped things off, which involved the bottom-four teams from the automatic qualifiers and the bottom-four teams from the at-large teams.

First-round games kick off on Friday, March 19 with the South and Midwest.

South

1 Baylor vs. 16 Hartford

8 North Carolina vs. 9 Wisconsin

5 Villanova vs. 12 Winthrop

4 Purdue vs. 13North Texas

6 Texas Tech vs. 11 Utah State

3 Arkansas vs. 14 Colgate

7 Florida vs. 10 Virginia Tech

2 Ohio State vs. 16 Oral Roberts

Midwest

1 Illinois vs. 16 Drexel

8 Loyola Chicago vs. 9 Georgia Tech

5 Tennessee vs. 12 Oregon St.

4 Oklahoma St. vs. 13 Liberty

6 San Diego St. vs. 11 Syracuse

3 West Virginia vs. 14 Morehead St.

7 Clemson vs. 10 Rutgers

2 Huston vs. 15 Cleveland St.

On March 20, the West and East start playing their first-round.

West

1 Gonzaga vs. 16 Norfolk State

8 Oklahoma vs. 9 Missouri

5 Creighton vs. 12 UCSB

4 Virginia vs. 13 Ohio

6 USC vs. 11 Drake

3 Kansas vs. 14 Eastern Washington

7 Oregon vs. 10 VCU

2 Iowa vs. 15 Grand Canyon

East

1 Michigan vs. 16 Mt. St. Mary’s/Texas So.

8 LSU vs. 9 St. Bonaventure

5 Colorado vs. 12 Georgetown

4 Florida St. vs. 13 UNC Greensboro

6 BYU vs. 11 UCLA

3 Texas vs. 14 Abilene Christian

7 UConn vs. 10 Maryland

2 Alabama vs. 15 Iona

After that round, the second round will be played on March 21 and 22 by the winners of each bracket, with the “Sweet 16” on March 27 and 28. The “Elite Eight” will play on March 29 and 30. In these playoff games, the potential in players will shine and teams for the NBA get to decide who they would like to choose moving forward in the next NBA Draft. The final winners will go head-to-head in the Championship Game on April 5 at 6 p. m.

As for COVID-19 regulations, according to Sports News, “each team must produce seven consecutive daily negative COVID-19 tests starting March 6.” Since then, all players are quarantining and taking precautions. If a team has a positive test leading up to the tournament, Louisville will replace them in the first round. If there is a positive test later in the tourney, the opposing team will automatically move on to the next round.

The NBA and viewers can not wait to see what all the exciting and hard-working teams have in store for us, along with players looking to moving forward to live their dreams.