Siler’s Selections – Official Bracket Picks

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Matthew Siler, Reporter

My Full Bracket

64 teams. 63 games. One champion. One bracket. My biggest project thus far, I will be going through every pick in my bracket and explaining why I made every decision. Personally, I feel like there should be absolutely no reason for any decision made, but I really want to talk about all the teams that are on here. I talk about the same 25-30 teams every week, so some change is nice.


I am almost certain that this bracket will be busted by the second round but that’s March, everyone. It doesn’t matter how good of an analyst someone is, no bracket will be perfect. With that said, here are all of my picks for the 2021 March Madness bracket:


Round of 64

West Region

#1 Gonzaga vs. #16 Appalachian State / #16 Norfolk State


Winner: #1 Gonzaga


There really isn’t much of a contest here. Gonzaga will dominate whoever wins the 16 seed play-in.


#8 Oklahoma vs. #9 Missouri


Winner: #9 Missouri


Oklahoma’s coach is not going to be at the game on Saturday, so I feel like they will flounder out in the first round. Missouri hasn’t been too hot as of recent, but if they could get back to their old form I can see them taking off with this game.


#5 Creighton vs. #12 UC Santa Barbara


Winner: #5 Creighton


With Creighton’s embarrassing loss against Georgetown, I can see them using this game as a revenge game. UCSB has been secretly good for the whole season in the Big West and are surprisingly underseeded, but Creighton will be too mad to even realize that they’re running up the score.


#4 Virginia vs. #13 Ohio


Winner: #13 Ohio


Listen, I love Virginia and Tony Bennett, but my admiration for players like Jason Preston (OHIO) goes much further. Virginia can have a few games next year, their defense needs fixing and they are in need of a true point guard. As for Ohio, I can see them squeaking this one out.


#6 Southern California vs. #11 Wichita State / #11 Drake


Winner: #6 Southern California


USC has a great team this season and I think it’s going to be far better than whoever their matchup is, whether it’s Wichita State or Drake.


#3 Kansas vs. #14 Eastern Washington


Winner: #3 Kansas


I’ve said this before in a few of my other articles, but Kansas’ defense is always mistaken for “bad basketball” which is just not true at all. I do have Eastern Washington winning in a few of my other brackets, but in this one I think Kansas will get the job done.


#7 Oregon vs. #10 VCU


Winner: #7 Oregon


This seems like a lot of chalk so far, and it is, but this was definitely one of the harder games to choose. VCU looked good against St. Bonaventure in the A-10 championship, but I don’t think they have the talent to defeat an Oregon team that is red hot.


#2 Iowa vs. #15 Grand Canyon University


Winner: #2 Iowa


This one could be an upset if Iowa goes cold from behind the arc, but I don’t see them going cold this early. Maybe in a later game, but for now Iowa is going to win this one soundly (or so Iowa fans hope).

South Region

#1 Baylor vs. #16 Hartford


Winner: #1 Baylor


Baylor will dominate. There really isn’t much else to say here other than good for Hartford for making the tournament for the first time in school history!


#8 North Carolina vs. #9 Wisconsin


Winner: #8 North Carolina


Wisconsin has not beat a ranked team since December 11th, 2020. While North Carolina is not ranked, they are definitely much better than the 8 seed they were given. Their size and rebounding ability are no match for Wisconsin’s three-based offense.


#5 Villanova vs. #12 Winthrop


Winner: #5 Villanova


This game is a bit scary because Nova is without two really good players, so be on the lookout for an upset in this one.


#4 Purdue vs. #13 North Texas


Winner: #4 Purdue


Purdue just has too much size and are too good for the Mean Green. Purdue definitely has the potential to go really far in the tournament this year, but in March every team needs to take it one game at a time.


#6 Texas Tech vs. #11 Utah State


Winner: #6 Texas Tech


While Texas Tech has been struggling as of late, I think that they’re going to use Utah State as a frustration game. Chris Beard’s defensive style could carry this team far in the tournament.


#3 Arkansas vs. #14 Colgate


Winner: #14 Colgate


This is probably my boldest pick of the whole bracket. I watched the Patriot League championship game between Colgate and Loyola Maryland, and I can totally see this team upsetting Arkansas. This game will end with one team scoring over 100 points just because of how both of these teams’ offenses work. If there’s no game on that is interesting at the moment, watch this game.


#7 Florida vs. #10 Virginia Tech


Winner: #10 Virginia Tech


This is probably the weirdest seeding ever. Virginia Tech is ranked 25th in the country in the latest AP poll while Florida isn’t ranked. Yet somehow, Virginia Tech is three seed lines below Florida. It just doesn’t make sense to me. I’ve got Virginia Tech winning this one because I think they’re going to get hot from three and won’t relax until they go cold.


#2 Ohio State vs. #15 Oral Roberts


Winner: #2 Ohio State


I think Ohio State comes away with a win here, but anything can happen. It’s March.


Midwest Region

#1 Illinois vs. #16 Drexel


Winner: #1 Illinois


I just can’t see another 16 beating a 1 seed until far in the future. Congratulations to Drexel for making the tournament for the first time since 1996!


#8 Loyola-Chicago vs. #9 Georgia Tech


Winner: #8 Loyola Chicago


Georgia Tech will be without star big man (and ACC POTY) Moses Wright for at least the first game of the NCAA tournament. That is big news, and could be disastrous for the Yellow Jackets. Loyola Chicago on the other hand could potentially run away with a victory here and carry that momentum to their next game.


#5 Tennessee vs. #12 Oregon State


Winner: #5 Tennessee


Oregon State had their fun winning the Pac-12 conference tournament this season, but I think their cinderella story comes to a screeching halt here with a loss to Tennessee.


#4 Oklahoma State vs. #13 Liberty


Winner: #4 Oklahoma State


I’ll be talking about Oklahoma State a lot in this article. For those who don’t know the name “Cade Cunningham,” you will. He’s a special one.


#6 San Diego State vs. #11 Syracuse


Winner: #6 San Diego State


I think it’s ridiculous that Syracuse even made the tournament to begin with, and that is my entire reasoning for them losing. I’ve seen San Diego State play and their defense is amazing, so that’s my “stats” reasoning in case my emotional reasoning wasn’t enough.


#3 West Virginia vs. #14 Morehead State


Winner: #3 West Virginia


Not much to say about this one, I’ve got West Virginia beating the reigning OVC Champs of Morehead State.


#7 Clemson vs. #10 Rutgers


Winner: #10 Rutgers


This one also doesn’t feel like much of an upset, as Clemson has been trending downward for the second half of the season while Rutgers is having a very quick trend up. Geo Baker and co. will tear apart the defense of Clemson in this one.


#2 Houston vs. #15 Cleveland State


Winner: #2 Houston


Even though I have Houston winning this game, don’t count out the Vikings of Cleveland State just yet. After surviving a multitude of upset bids in their conference tournament, Cleveland State is looking to do whatever it takes to win this game against a goliath-like Houston team.

East Region

#1 Michigan vs. #16 Mount St. Mary’s / #16 Texas Southern


Winner: #1 Michigan


There isn’t much here to explain, but again, anything can happen in March.


#8 LSU vs. #9 St. Bonaventure


Winner: #9 St. Bonaventure


St. Bonaventure plays a six man rotation. Isn’t that just insane? I think it will hurt them in the long run but when they’re rested, St. Bonaventure plays like a ranked team. LSU just doesn’t stand a chance here.


#5 Colorado vs. #12 Georgetown


Winner: #12 Georgetown 


One of the few upset picks I have that I’m not sure about. Georgetown just went on a tear in the Big East tournament, but can they keep it up here? I guess we’ll see.


#4 Florida State vs. #13 UNC Greensboro


Winner: #4 Florida State


Florida State is underseeded in my opinion. A lot of people point to their loss to Notre Dame as a reason why they’re a four seed and not a three seed which I get, but they made their conference championship game and beat a good North Carolina squad to get there. They did lose to Georgia Tech, but if FSU doesn’t have 24 turnovers in one game again, I can see them going very far.


#6 BYU vs. #11 MSU / #11 UCLA


Winner: #11 MSU / #11 UCLA


BYU is a good team, don’t get me wrong. I just don’t think they can beat MSU or UCLA. Plain and simple.


#3 Texas vs. #14 Abilene Christian


Winner: #3 Texas


This game feels like it could end up as an upset, but I’m going with the safe pick here. Shaka Smart is a great coach in the tournament (he led the 2012 VCU team to a final four) so it’s hard to deny him another great run.


#7 UConn vs. #10 Maryland


Winner: #10 Maryland


UConn and James Bouknight are really good. They could definitely win this game, but that’s not what I picked. I think that Maryland’s defense will shut down Bouknight and help bring the Terps another tournament win.


#2 Alabama vs. #15 Iona


Iona is Rick Pitino’s fifth team he has taken to the NCAA Tournament, which is tied for the most schools a coach has taken to the tournament. However, he is coaching a MAAC team, not a power 6 team. I think the Tide roll in this one.


Round of 32

West Region

#1 Gonzaga vs. #9 Missouri


Winner: #1 Gonzaga


Missouri is good, but Gonzaga is better. I’m not sure what else to say here. Gonzaga has a first-team all-american and two second-team all-americans, so it is going to be hard to stop the Zags this year.


#5 Creighton vs. #13 Ohio


Winner: #5 Creighton


I was really tempted to choose Ohio in this game simply because I want to see them make the Sweet Sixteen. Creighton is just the better team, sadly. Who knows, I could be completely wrong and Ohio could tear it up in this game. We’ll see.


#3 Kansas vs. #6 Southern California


Winner: #6 Southern California


Kanas’s defense is good, but it’s not good enough to stop the barrage of shots that USC will be taking. I think Kansas goes cold in this one and chokes it against USC.


#2 Iowa vs. #7 Oregon


Winner: #2 Iowa


I don’t think the Hawkeyes go cold — yet. Jordan Bohannon and Luka Garza will be the leaders of this offense and I think they’ll steamroll Oregon in this game.

East Region

#1 Michigan vs. #9 St. Bonaventure


Winner: #1 Michigan


I think that St. Bonaventure’s six-man rotation will come back to bite them in the butt because of how tired these players will be. Michigan is a deeper team and can simply overpower them. Although Osun Osunniyi will be a great matchup for Hunter Dickenson.


#4 Florida State vs. #12 Georgetown


Winner: #4 Florida State


Florida State’s depth will carry them in this tournament. Georgetown is just happy to be here, so I think it’s good for them to stop their cinderella story here before it goes too far.


#3 Texas vs. #11 MSU / #11 UCLA


Winner: #11 MSU / #11 UCLA


This one is a risky pick because I can definitely see either MSU or UCLA winning their games up till this point, but I’m not sure how hot Texas will be. Like I’ve said: who knows?


#2 Alabama vs. #10 Maryland


Winner: #2 Alabama


Nate Oats and co. will keep it close with Maryland, but be the victors in this game. I just don’t think Maryland has the firepower to keep up with this Alabama offense. A counter to that would be Alabama’s players not being able to keep up their tempo for so many games in a row, so it’s really up in the air.

South Region

#1 Baylor vs. #8 North Carolina


Winner: #1 Baylor


Again, I really can’t see Baylor losing until the sweet sixteen at the earliest this season. Their offense is just too good for any team to handle.


#4 Purdue vs. #5 Villanova


Winner: #4 Purdue


Villanova is hurt right now, and they’ll be lucky to make it out of the first round at this rate, so I think Purdue will win this game with ease and go to the Sweet Sixteen.


#6 Texas Tech vs. #14 Colgate


Winner: #14 Colgate


What can I say, I’m on the Colgate bandwagon! There’s a guy from Homestead on Colgate if that gives anyone a reason to root for them. Fort Wayne is pretty close to South Bend if you squit really hard. I don’t have any reason for them to win, I’ll be honest. I’m just hoping for chaos.


#2 Ohio State vs. #10 Virginia Tech


Winner: #2 Ohio State


Ohio State is just going to outlast Virginia Tech in this game. Plain and simple.


Midwest Region

#1 Illinois vs. #8 Loyola Chicago


Winner: #1 Illinois


While Loyola has a really good defense, Illinois has a much better offense. I think Ayo and Kofi are going to tear up Krutwig and the Ramblers. It’s unfortunate that they were given an 8 seed because they deserved much higher in my opinion.


#4 Oklahoma State vs. #5 Tennessee


Winner: #4 Oklahoma State


Tennessee has been good for most of the season, but Oklahoma State is looking for something to prove in this tournament. They were almost banned from offseason play because of a former coach, but the NCAA never acted on it, so now Oklahoma State needs to prove that they belong.


#3 West Virginia vs. #6 San Diego State


Winner: #6 San Diego State


While West Virginia has very good rebounding abilities, I feel like San Diego State’s defense will carry them in this tournament, like most defenses do.


#2 Houston vs. #10 Rutgers


Winner: #2 Houston


Houston, like Baylor, has a really good chance of getting to the Sweet 16 with the possible teams they could face. It’s all Cougars for me at this point.


Sweet Sixteen

West Region

#1 Gonzaga vs. #5 Creighton


Winner: #1 Gonzaga


I think this is where Creighton gets cold. After facing two double-digit seeds in a row, Gonzaga will slap them in the face and they won’t be able to recover. It was fun while it lasted, right Creighton?


#2 Iowa vs. #6 Southern California


Winner: #6 Southern California


Iowa, like Creighton, will go cold in the Sweet Sixteen. Mobley will go off for USC and there will be no answer from Iowa’s already meek defense.


East Region

#1 Michigan vs. #4 Florida State


Winner: #4 Florida State 


I mentioned earlier that Florida State’s depth will carry them in the tournament. Well, here it is. Florida State will simply out-pace Michigan. I think Michigan will be tired without Isaiah Livers, and this will be as far as they get.


#2 Alabama vs. #11 Michigan State / #11 UCLA


Winner: #2 Alabama


I think at this point Alabama will just be on a roll and it is going to be hard to stop this kind of an offense. Nate Oats has these kids in a spot that is hard to touch in the tournament, but as seen in the SEC conference tournament, they can get tired so be on the lookout for an upset in this round.

South Region

#1 Baylor vs #4 Purdue


Winner: #1 Baylor


I feel like this game can go either way. Purdue has shown to be really good in high-pressure situations, but they have also shown to be very ineffective against high octane offenses. Baylor’s offense will run away with this one.


#2 Ohio State vs. #14 Colgate


Winner: #2 Ohio State


As much as I would love to see Colgate make it past the Sweet Sixteen, I just don’t think it will happen. Ohio State has a much better defense than Colgate does, and I think some of the magic will be gone by this point. 

Midwest Region

#1 Illinois vs. #4 Oklahoma State


Winner: #4 Oklahoma State


Illinois is the first number seed to go down, and I think Oklahoma State is the perfect team to beat them. If the Cowboys could beat Baylor in the conference tournament, I can definitely see them beating Illinois.


#2 Houston vs. #6 San Diego State


Winner: #6 San Diego State


Defense wins championships. Houston has a good defense, but San Diego State’s is just that much better.


Elite Eight

West Region

#1 Gonzaga vs. #6 Southern California


Winner: #1 Gonzaga


Unfortunately for all of the USC fans who live in South Bend, I have Gonzaga beating them in the elite eight. If this game happens, all eyes should be on these two teams and their offenses. I really wish they would have played during the regular season because matchups like these are why college basketball is so much fun.


East Region

#2 Alabama vs. #4 Florida State


Winner: #4 Florida State


That’s right. I have Florida State in the Final Four. Maybe it’s a bit of an ACC bias, but their depth is nothing to mess with. They have a projected lottery pick in Scottie Barnes who comes off the bench because of Leonard Hamilton’s style of coaching. It’s going to be fun to watch FSU when tournament time comes.

South Region

#1 Baylor vs. #2 Ohio State


Winner: #1 Baylor


I’ll be honest, I picked Baylor because I can’t stand the thought of Ohio State making the final four. I’m only half kidding. In all seriousness, Baylor should go to the final four with the talent they have.

Midwest Region

#4 Oklahoma State vs. #6 San Diego State


Winner: #4 Oklahoma State


I’m saying this right now: Cade Cunningham is perhaps the clutchest player since Christian Laettener. The difference is that he is at a much more likeable program (sorry, Duke fans) than Laettener was. Cade hits all the shots at the end of the game and he is a straight baller. I questioned his abilities at the beginning of the season, but I don’t anymore. He’s special.


#1 Gonzaga vs. #4 Florida State


Winner: #1 Gonzaga


I think that Gonzaga’s offense will be too much for Florida State. Depth can take a team far, but a lack of consistency on offense is hard to recover from. Mark Few has a real chance at giving Gonzaga their first ever title.


#1 Baylor vs. #4 Oklahoma State


Winner: #4 Oklahoma State


I’m going all in on Oklahoma State now. OK State beat Baylor in the Big 12 tournament this season and has only been improving. This team beat West Virginia without their leading scorer (Cunningham) and rebounder (Likekely). Oklahoma State is the team to beat this year.


#1 Gonzaga vs. #4 Oklahoma State


Winner: #4 Oklahoma State


That’s right. In my only serious bracket, I am selecting Oklahoma State as my champion. Cade Cunningham, Isaiah Likekely, Avery Anderson III, Kalib Boone, those are just the names I can say off the top of my head. These are names to remember. Of course, Mike Boynton in his first year could seriously have a national championship. It’s all just such a good ending for a program so wrecked up until this point.


So there it is. Oklahoma State is Matthew Siler’s official pick to win the national championship this season.


Here is the link to my bracket in case you want to see what the whole thing looks like.


There will (most likely) be a full dissection of whoever wins the national championship, going into the history and events of the season. For now, all we can do is hope we get a perfect bracket. Happy picking!