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March Madness 2021 Rankings, No. 1 through 68

by Vaughn Dalzell
Updated On: March 16, 2021, 6:34 pm ET

It is the day after Selection Sunday, so maybe one of your million brackets looks like a winner. If not, or you like college basketball betting, you can watch NBC Sports Edge's "Brackets and Bets" show here on YouTube for our staff's picks, region breakdowns, cinderellas, plus their final four and champion!

Here is a list, ready to be torn apart by College Basketball and March Madness fans alike. This is my personal rankings school-by-school, No. 1 through the final No. 68 spots. 

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I based my list not only on watching countless hours of college basketball season this season, but analytics from NBC Sports Edge Tools, Kenpom rankings, if they finished hot or cold and, as of right now, where the team stands.

These are my honest power rankings, not how I would seed them, not based on AP Top 25 or votes and certainly not based on how I think March Madness plays out - just pure and honest opinion. 

Rip it apart and have fun! That is what lists are meant for anyways. 

No. 1, Gonzaga: The only undefeated team in the nation at 26-0 needs no introduction or reasoning.

No. 2, Illinois: Safe to say, Illinois is the hottest team in the country. The Fighting Illini have won 14 of the last 15 games, including the Big Ten.

No. 3, Baylor: The Bears are still a complete team and Final Four worthy despite the two losses in the last six games. Do not count them out.

No. 4, Alabama: The SEC Champs are dangerous on both ends and have their most talented team since Collin Sexton was in uniform. Bama ranks second in adjusted defensive efficiency and 34th on offense. The Tide also limit opponents to 28.8% from three.

No. 5, Michigan: Juwan Howard has done wonders with this team and they arguably could the No. 4 squad here. The Wolverines rank sixth and seventh in offensive and defensive efficiency, one-of-three teams to do both.

No. 6, Texas: The Longhorns are my dark horse. Texas is way too underrated, coming in at 26th in Kenpom. They have minute continuity, size, speed, athleticism from the bigs and most of all, the combination of a great head coach and veteran leadership. Texas has won eight of the last 10 games.

No. 7, Oklahoma State: The Cowboys are looking scary and this could be just the beginning. Oklahoma State finished the season 8-2 in the last 10 with a Big 12 title game loss to Texas. They are loaded and led by the future No. 1 NBA pick, Cade Cunningham.

No. 8, Iowa: The Hawkeyes caught their stride, going 8-2 in the last 10 games. With Luka Garza locking up the Wooden Award as a senior season, this Hawkeyes team will make one final push before the (really) good times are over. 

No. 9, Houston: The Cougars are one-of-six teams to rank both top 25 in offensive and defensive efficiency. However, they only played two tournament teams all season (Texas Tech, Wichita State). Houston has a lot to prove in March.

No. 10, West Virginia: Eight of WVU's nine losses have come by five or fewer points. This team can hang with anybody. They struggle to close games, making March a trust test for the Mountaineers.

No. 11, Arkansas: The Razorbacks won 12 of the last 14 games entering the tournament. They are the 13th ranked team in the field as far as average height and can create mismatch problems defensively, ranked 14th in average defensive efficiency in the nation.

No. 12, Ohio State: The Buckeyes still have life after the four-game losing streak to end the regular season. With three wins in the Big Ten tournament and an OT loss to Illinois for the title, Ohio State should be very confident entering the NCAA Tournament.

No. 13, Kansas: The Jayhawks in the middle of playing the best basketball of the season before COVID disrupted the Big 12 Tournament. Kansas won eight of the last nine games and suffered all eight of their losses to No. 5 seeds or higher.

No. 14, Texas Tech: With 10 losses, this could be blasphemous to have them this high, but Texas Tech has what it takes with its roster and Chris Beard at the helm. All 10 of Texas Tech's losses have come to teams seeded No. 4 or higher in the NCAA Tournament. Do not be surprised if they make a deep run.

No. 15, San Diego State: The Aztecs are one of the hottest teams in the country, winning 14 consecutive games. Utah State is the only tournament team San Diego State has played this season and they went 1-2, winning the MWC Championship.

No. 16, Purdue: The Boilermakers are one-of-six teams to rank top 25 in offensive and defensive efficiency, ranking 23rd in both. Purdue won five straight before losing to Ohio State. Two of the last three losses came by a combined four points and the other in OT to Ohio State. With wins there, they would have won 10 straight, then who knows from there.

No. 17, Oregon: The Ducks offensively cause fits for opponents and shoot the three at 37.9%, ninth-best in the tournament's field. The Ducks won 11 of the last 13 games entering the big dance. 

No. 18, Florida State: The Seminoles lost in the ACC Championship, but own one of the best offenses in college basketball. Florida State ranks 10th in offensive adjusted efficiency (117.1) and 73 or more points in 16-of-22 games. They are also the tallest team in the nation.

No. 19, North Carolina: The Tar Heels are the best offensive rebounding teams in the country, with a 41.3% rebounding percentage. UNC is the third-tallest team in the tournament and creates mismatches for its opponents. UNC went 4-2 over the last six games, with both losses by a combined five points.

No. 20, Colorado: The Buffaloes finished the season 9-3 in the last 12 games, but no one is talking about this team. Colorado shoots free-throws at the second-best rate in the nation (82.2%), while ranking 15th in offensive efficiency and 29th in defensive efficiency. 

No. 21, UConn: The Huskies won seven of the last nine games and are an overall complete team entering March. UConn is one-of-six teams top 25 in offensive and defensive efficiency, while finishing the regular-season sixth in offensive rebounding percentage, which is always a remedy for a comeback in March.

No. 22, Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets won eight straight games and the ACC Championship, upsetting Florida State. They are the fourth-oldest team at 2.54 years on the roster, with six of eight players being juniors or seniors.

No. 23, Creighton: The Blue Jays have had some drama surrounding their program and a loss in the Big East Championship did not help. Creighton won 10 of the last 14 games and finished the regular-season 14th in offensive efficiency.

No. 24, Loyola-Chicago: The Ramblers are winners in 17 of the last 18 games. They are ranked first in adjusted defensive efficiency and 11th in minute continuity, playing five seniors in the rotation's top six spots.

No. 25, LSU: The Tigers finished the season with a bang, going 4-1 with a one-point loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship. LSU is fifth in offensive adjusted efficiency and holds opponents to 30% from three, 20th-best in the country.

No. 26, USC: The Trojans are 4-4 in the last eight games, barely surviving the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament. USC is the second tallest team in the country and that will always give teams fits as the Mobley brothers are mismatches. 

No. 27, Virginia: The Cavaliers went 3-3 in the last six games, but enter on a three-game winning streak. COVID disrupted Virginia's flow and the Cavs showing up to the NCAA Tournament on Friday is worrisome. Virginia ranks top 20 in two-point, three-point and free-throw shooting percentages.

No. 28, Rutgers: They did it! Rutgers could have been a tournament team last year, but here we are a year later. The Scarlett Knights rank 18th in adjusted defensive efficiency and fifth in minutes continuity, with 77.8% of minutes from last season returning. Six of the top eight players are juniors or seniors.

No. 29, Winthrop: At 23-1, the Eagles have the second-best record in the nation. Winthrop's rotation features 11 players averaging 11 minutes or more per game. Four players average double-figures and they rank top 12 in both offensive and defensive rounding percentages in the country. 

No. 30, St. Bonaventure: Three of the Bonnies' four losses have come by six or fewer points this season. Defensively, they rank 32nd or better in adjusted defensive efficiency, effective field goal percentage, two-point, three-point and free-throw percentages, too.

No. 31, Oregon State: The Beavers are on fire, winning six of the last seven games and the Pac-12 Tournament. Oregon State is getting hot at the right time and could make a run if they get out of the first-round matchup as the beloved No. 12 seed. Few teams with fewer expectations are playing this well.

No. 32, Virginia Tech: The Hokies led the ACC in adjusted defensive efficiency and ranked top 55 in both offensive and defensive efficiency in the country. They finished the season 4-3 over the last seven games and returned over 55% of their minutes from last season.

No. 33, Georgetown: Patrick Ewing is the man and it showed in the Big East Tournament. However, the Hoyas four-game winning streak is the longest of the season. Every game here on out will be the toughest test of the season for a Georgetown team that ranks 309th and 313rd in offensive and defensive turnover percentage.

No. 34, Michigan State: The Spartans could be No. 34 or No. 50, who knows, but hopefully it is the Tom Izzo March Madness Spartans we witness. MSU won five of its last seven games before the loss to Maryland, placing them in the play-in game. MSU beat Michigan, Ohio State and Illinois in three of the last five wins.

No. 35, VCU: The Rams have won nine of the last 11 games, losing in the A-10 Championship. Nah'Shon "Bones" Hyland leads VCU and he is a serious playmaker to watch out for. The Rams own the 12th ranked adjusted defensive efficiency in the nation and finished third and fourth in steal and block percentage.

No. 36, Villanova: The Wildcats lost Collin Gillespie for the season and Justin Moore played 12 and 27 minutes since being questionable. After going 1-3 in the last four games, Villanova is trending in the wrong direction.

No. 37, Tennessee: The Vols lost John Fulkerson for the Alabama showdown, which cost them a significant rotational spot. The Vols have gone 4-4 in the last eight games and are far from the team we saw in December and early January.

No. 38, BYU: Three of BYU's last four losses have come against Gonzaga as they are 15-4 in the previous 19 outings. BYU ranks 28th and 26th in adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency. With 7-foot-3 center Matt Haarms, BYU is a mismatch problem for most opponents. 

No. 39, Florida: The Gators finished the season 4-3, but have the talent to do some damage. Florida ranks top 40 in adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency, in addition to holding opponents to 30.5% from three, 29th-best. Led by Tree Mann, they always have a chance to win.

No. 40, Missouri: The Tigers rank 51st in Kenpom rankings and just outside of the top 50 in adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency. Missouri went 3-6 in the last nine games to finish off the season.

No. 41, Syracuse: The Orange won six of the previous nine games, barely squeaking in the big dance. Syracuse does three things well. They take care of the ball, ranking 31st in turnover percentage, making free-throws at a 78.4% rate (15th), and play at the 53rd-fastest tempo, resulting in a 22nd adjusted offensive efficiency rating.

No. 42, Wichita State: The Shockers are 8-1 in the past nine games, getting hot at the best time possible. Wichita State did beat Houston in the regular-season and rank 48th in defensive effective field goal percentage. However, Wichita State shoots 44.7% from two, ranking 322nd in the country and last in the tournament field. 

No. 43, Maryland: The Terps won six of the last nine games, but 1-3 in the previous four. Maryland enters March as a mystery team. Maryland ranks top 42 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, while having veteran guards with the 30th-tallest roster.

No. 44, Clemson: The Tigers are 6-2 in the previous eight games, but lost to Miami and Syracuse. Clemson finished the season 20th in adjusted defensive efficiency, but 99th in offensive. Clemson has yet to score more than 65 points in a loss this season as the offense has been the issue.

No. 45, Oklahoma: The Sooners defense fell apart at the end of the season, resulting in a 1-4 record over the last five games and 4-6 in the previous 10. Oklahoma has lost eight-of-10 games by seven or fewer points.

No. 46, UCLA: The Bruins snapped a four-game winning streak with four straight losses to end the season and six in the last 10. UCLA hits the three-ball at a 36.7%-clip (47th), but cannot defend it at 35.1% (242nd). 

No. 47, Wisconsin: The Badgers are 3-7 in the last 10 games, one of the coldest teams entering the tournament. Wisconsin is a turnover-free team, ranking second in offensive turnover percentage but 241st in turnovers forced. 

No. 48, Utah State: The Aggies are 6-1 over the last seven games with a loss in the MWC Championship to San Diego State. Utah State defends the two-ball at the fourth-best rate in the country (42.9%), while owning a 14.6% block rate (7th) on the 27th-tallest team. The Aggies went 2-3 versus tournament teams, with both wins versus San Diego State in the regular-season.

No. 49, Ohio: The Bobcats own the 29th-best adjusted offensive efficiency in the country thanks to the duo of Jason Preston and Dwight Wilson. Ohio has scored 75 or more in 20-of-23 games this season and own the 13th-ranked effective field goal percentage. The Bobcats have won nine of the last 10 games.

No. 50, North Texas: The Mean Green won four straight in the C-USA Tournament after losing three straight. North Texas won eight of the last 11 games, losing two by a combined five points.

No. 51, Morehead State: The Mountaineers won 19 of the last 20 games to close out the season and an OVC Championship. Morehead State ranks 72nd in defensive efficiency across the country, but 214th in offensive efficiency. They knocked the 26-4 Belmont Bruins out of the tournament field with their championship run.

No. 52, Grand Canyon: The Antelopes finished with three straight wins and 3-3 in the last six. Prior to that, Grand Canyon is 13-3 in the last 16 games. Defensively, the Antelopes rank top 22 in the country for two-point, three-point and effective field goal percentages. 

No. 53, Drake: The Bulldogs are an impressive 25-4 but are 7-4 in the last 11 games. Drake's season has slowly gotten more complicated. Without Roman Penn and Shanquan Hemphill, March could be short-lived for a team that ranks 120th in adjusted defensive efficiency.

No. 54, Liberty: The Flame won 12 straight games to end the season and are top 20 in two-point, three-point and free-throw percentages. Liberty is desperately undersized, ranking 314th in height and slow with a 348th ranking in adjusted tempo. Liberty is 0-2 versus tournament teams.

No. 55, Colgate: The Raiders have won 13 consecutive games to end the season and own the third-best three-point percentage at 40.0% and the best three-point defense percentage (26.1%) in the nation. However, Colgate has not played a team ranked higher than 189 in Kenpom rankings. 

No. 56, Abilene Christian: The Wildcats won 12 of the last 13 games to end the season, claiming the Southland Conference. They are 0-2 versus tournament teams and finished with the nation's best turnover percentage. They are 20th in minutes continuity and features a starting lineup of three seniors and two juniors. 

No. 57, Eastern Washington: The Eagles won 13 of the last 14 games entering the first round. The last time EWU played a team inside the top 200 of Kenpom was on Jan. 16. Eastern Washington shoots free-throws at a 79.9% rate, the sixth-best in the nation and shoots the three at 35.9% (73rd).

No. 58, UNC Greensboro: The Spartans are 12-3 in the last 15 games, winning the Southern Conference. UNCG shoots the three-ball at a 30% rate, 312th in the country, but defends it at 31.9% (76th). UNCG is 2-4 versus teams ranked top 125 or higher in Kenpom.

No. 59, Cleveland State: The Vikings went 9-2 over the previous 11 games and winners of four straight to end the season. Cleveland State went 1-4 against teams in the top 100 and they struggle to shoot the three (31.9%) and to defend the two (50.9%).

No. 60, Texas Southern: The Tigers won 14 of the last 15 games and return one of the eldest teams in the country. Texas Southern has an average experience of 2.54 years, assisting them to nine straight victories. 

No. 61, Iona: Rick Pitino is back, leading the Gaels to six straight wins to end the season and a MAAC title. Iona is a young team with a lack of size, so Pitino will have his work cut out for him. Iona owns the 327th offensive turnover percentage and the 18th-ranked effective field goal percentage.

No. 62, UC Santa Barbara: The Gauchos have won 18 of the previous 19 games, losing one road game. UC Santa Barbara is an elder team ranked 26th in experience (2.35 years) and rank both top 82 in offensive and defensive efficiency. 

No. 63, Drexel: The Dragons won their final four games of the season, but are 6-5 in the last 11 overall. Drexel returns 78.9% of its minutes from last season and shoots 37.2% from three and 53.5% from two, both top 50 marks.

No. 64, Norfolk State: The Spartans are a deep team, with the bench recording 42.1% of the minutes. Norfolk State ended the season on a six-game winning streak. The Spartans only played four teams ranked 200th or higher in Kenpom and they went 2-2.

No. 65, Oral Roberts: The Golden Eagles won five straight to end the season, ending 7-4 over the previous 11. Oral Roberts is 0-5 versus tournament teams this season. Out of the field, Oral Roberts ranks last in adjusted defensive efficiency. 

No. 66, Hartford: The Hawks ended the season on a five-game winning streak after going 5-6 in the previous 11. Hartford holds opponents to 28.7% from three, ranking ninth in the country. The Eagles only hit 32.6% from deep themselves (225th). 

No. 67, Appalachian State: The Mountaineers won four consecutive games after going 1-5 over six games prior to the Sun Belt Conference Tournament. App State plays at a slow pace and struggles to score. They did not play any tournament teams this year. 

No. 68, Mount St. Mary's: The Mountaineers ended the season on a four-game winning streak. Mount St. Mary's went 1-3 versus teams ranked higher than 200, beating only Bryant in the NEC Championship game. The Mountaineers rank 287th in adjusted offensive efficiency, last among teams in the NCAA Tournament.

Vaughn Dalzell

Vaughn Dalzell is a former Division I SID, two-time IUP Alumnus and also a contributor on numberFire, FantasyPros and Bet The Prop. You can follow him on Twitter for more insight @VmoneySports.