2021 Men’s NCAA Tournament printable bracket, field: Every game, all 68 teams revealed for March Madness

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The field is set, and 68 teams are heading to Indiana for the first NCAA tournament since 2019.

Gonzaga leads the pack as the top overall seed, with Baylor, Illinois and Michigan rounding out the No. 1 teams. Bluebloods Duke and Kentucky headline the notable absences from this year’s field, while storied programs Michigan State and UCLA will meet in a First Four matchup.

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Men’s 2021 NCAA Tournament bracket

Click here for the full, printable PDF version of the 2021 men’s March Madness bracket.

Complete men’s 2021 NCAA tournament first round schedule, field

WEST REGION

  • (1) Gonzaga vs. (16) Norfolk State/Appalachian State

The dominant Bulldogs (26-0) enter the tournament undefeated after their best regular season in program history and are the favorites to cut down the nets in April. With three players — Corey Kispert, Jalen Suggs and Drew Timme — on the 2021 Wooden Award National Ballot, Gonzaga will be extremely difficult to beat. The Bulldogs are averaging 92.1 points per game and shooting a staggering 55.1% from the field.

  • (8) Oklahoma vs. (9) Missouri
  • (5) Creighton vs. (12) UC Santa Barbara

Coming off a Big West championship and a hot streak that has seen them win 20 of their last 21 games, the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (22-4) are primed for an upset bid. Led by standout guard JaQuori McLaughlin, the Gauchos roster contains 10 players averaging over 10 minutes per game. That depth adds to the likelihood the Gauchos can knock off a Creighton team (20-8) that struggled in a 73-48 loss to Georgetown in the Big East championship.

  • (4) Virginia vs. (13) Ohio
  • (6) USC vs. (11) Wichita State/Drake
  • (3) Kansas vs. (14) Eastern Washington
  • (7) Oregon vs. (10) VCU
  • (2) Iowa vs. (15) Grand Canyon

This talented Iowa team (21-8) might have had a good chance to advance to the Final Four — if it hadn’t been seeded in the same region as top overall seed Gonzaga. Behind 23.7 points and 8.8 rebounds a game from Luka Garza, the Hawkeyes have bested strong opponents and matched up well against even stronger ones. But Gonzaga already beat Iowa once this season — a 99-88 win that didn’t feel that close — and could almost surely do it again should the Hawkeyes advance that far.

SOUTH REGION

  • (1) Baylor vs. (16) Hartford

Baylor (22-2) stumbled against Oklahoma State in the Big 12 tournament semifinals, falling 83-74 in the Bears’ second loss of the year. Baylor shot just 21.4% from behind the arc, an uncharacteristic performance well below the Bears’ average three-point shooting mark of 41.8%. It’s difficult to picture a Final Four without Baylor in it, but a strong defensive performance by Oklahoma State provided a blueprint to make that possible.

  • (8) UNC vs. (9) Wisconsin
  • (5) Villanova vs. (12) Winthrop
  • (4) Purdue vs. (13) North Texas
  • (6) Texas Tech vs. (11) Utah State

Texas Tech (17-10), the 2019 NCAA tournament runner-up, has lost five of its last eight games entering the tournament. The Red Raiders likely won’t advance past the second round but should be able to beat a Utah State team (20-8) that turned the ball over 16 times against San Diego State in the Mountain West championship.

  • (3) Arkansas vs. (14) Colgate        
  • (7) Florida vs. (10) Virginia Tech
  • (2) Ohio State vs. (15) Oral Roberts

MIDWEST REGION

  • (1) Illinois vs. (16) Drexel

Illinois (23-6) ran through the Big Ten tournament, finishing off its championship run with a 91-88 overtime win over Ohio State. Led by Ayo Dosunmu and his 20.9 points per game, the sharpshooting Fighting Illini are likely to emerge from the Midwest region — if they can avoid a Sweet 16 upset from an Oklahoma State team talented enough to deliver one.

  • (8) Loyola Chicago vs. (9) Georgia Tech
  • (5) Tennessee vs. (12) Oregon State
  • (4) Oklahoma State vs. (13) Liberty

Oklahoma State (20-8) showcased its full-strength capabilities in an 83-74 upset of Baylor in the Big 12 tournament semifinals before falling to Texas 91-86 in the championship. Oklahoma State freshman Cade Cunningham, who was out when the Cowboys first met Baylor in January, posted 25 points and eight rebounds in the latest matchup with the Bears. Led by Cunningham, the projected No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft, Oklahoma State could have the makings of a Final Four team.

  • (6) San Diego State vs. (11) Syracuse
  • (3) West Virginia vs. (14) Morehead State

West Virginia (18-9) has lost three of its last four games but might be better than its resume suggests. The Mountaineers have played a number of top teams close, falling 87-82 to Gonzaga and 94-89 to Baylor. Late in the season, though, West Virginia struggled against Oklahoma State, dropping back-to-back games to the Cowboys.

  • (7) Clemson vs. (10) Rutgers
  • (2) Houston vs. (15) Cleveland State

EAST REGION

  • (1) Michigan vs. (16) Mount St. Mary’s/Texas Southern
  • (8) LSU vs. (9) St. Bonaventure
  • (5) Colorado vs. (12) Georgetown

Patrick Ewing’s revival of his alma mater reached new heights when the Hoyas (13-12) knocked off Creighton in the Big East championship to secure their spot in this year’s NCAA tournament field of 68. Back in the Big Dance for the first time since 2015, Georgetown will seek its first tournament win under Ewing in the form of a first-round upset. Colorado (22-8) hit its stride late in the season and was on a six-game win streak before falling to Oregon State 70-68 in the Pac-12 championship game.

  • (4) Florida State vs. (13) UNC Greensboro
  • (6) BYU vs. (11) Michigan State/UCLA

This 11-seed First Four game features two teams that aren’t accustomed to play-in games, but BYU (20-6) is well-equipped to face either college basketball stalwart after giving Gonzaga trouble for the first half of the WCC championship game. Since early December, the Cougars have only lost to one team that wasn’t Gonzaga, which has handed the Cougars three of their six losses. Mark Pope’s BYU team will likely be able to handle whichever First Four opponent emerges from the play-in contest.

  • (3) Texas vs. (14) Abilene Christian
  • (7) UConn vs. 10 Maryland
  • (2) Alabama vs. (15) Iona

On the heels of a football national championship, Alabama’s basketball program (24-6) is making a strong case for itself as a title contender. The Crimson Tide haven’t lost to an unranked team since December and enter the tournament coming off an exhilarating 80-79 SEC championship victory over LSU. Don’t be surprised if Nate Oats’ balanced Alabama team finds itself in Lucas Oil Stadium for the Final Four. Meanwhile, Rick Pitino is back in the NCAA tournament field, this time as Iona’s (12-5) first-year coach.

                                  RELATED: One thing to know about every tournament team 

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NIL and NCAA: What to know about the new policy and how NBC Sports can help

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As of July 1, 2021, a new NCAA policy has been in effect allowing student-athletes from all three divisions to monetize their name, image, and likeness (often referred to as NIL). As long as the activities are “consistent with the law of the state where the school is located,” athletes now have the opportunity to accept endorsements from brands, monetize their social media presences, and work with professional firms to coordinate deals.

Click here for additional information and guidelines regarding NCAA NIL policies and keep reading to find answers to questions such as how NIL works as well as how NBC Sports can help.

What is NIL and NBC Sports Athlete Direct?

NBC Sports Athlete Direct is coming to a school near you. The program enables college student-athletes to earn money from their name, image, and likeness (NIL) through a unique marketplace that connects athletes with advertisers. NBC Sports Athlete Direct will work to provide equal opportunities to all student-athletes, regardless of which team you play on or any statistical performance.

How will the NIL Marketplace work?

Advertisers will use NBC Sports Athlete Direct to make NIL offers available to college student-athletes. College student-athletes will then have the option to participate in the NIL offer. Those who decide to participate and complete the advertiser’s campaign requirements will be compensated based on a predetermined rate.

How much money can athletes make participating in NBC Sports Athlete Direct?

Compensation will vary by advertiser campaign.

When will NBC Sports Athlete Direct launch and how can I sign up?

NBC Sports Athlete Direct will officially launch in the Fall of 2022 but prior to that, we will be launching a pilot program soon, exclusively for Temple and Vanderbilt student-athletes.

In the meantime, click here to fill out a student-athlete interest form and once it is available at your school, we will notify you and provide you with additional information on how to sign up.

If I participate in NIL offers from NBC Sports Athlete Direct, do I still have the freedom to do other NIL deals that are not related to NBC Sports Athlete Direct?

Yes, this program is non-exclusive so our student-athletes will have the freedom to participate in other NIL deals that are not related to NBC Sports Athlete Direct.

What are the rules or restrictions for participating in this program?

Unfortunately, international students and students under the age of 18 are not eligible to participate in the pilot program at this time.

Kentucky to allow college athletes to earn off likeness

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FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear signed an executive order Thursday allowing the state’s college athletes – including players on the nationally renowned Kentucky and Louisville men’s basketball teams – to make money through the use of their name, image or likeness.

The Democratic governor said he took the action as a matter of fairness for college athletes. It will spare Kentucky’s colleges from being at a competitive disadvantage with rivals in other states that will have laws enabling athletes to profit off their name, image or likeness, he said.

“This is important to our student-athletes, who for decades, others – whether it’s companies or institutions – have profited on,” Beshear told reporters. “These athletes deserve to be a part of that.”

Beshear said his executive order takes effect July 1, when similar legislation passed in several other states will become law. His office said he was the first governor to make the change by executive order.

The governor’s action won praise from the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville. UK plays in the Southeastern Conference and UofL competes in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“Bringing the state of Kentucky into competitive balance with other states across the country and, more specifically, the Atlantic Coast Conference is critical,” Vince Tyra, U of L’s vice president for intercollegiate athletics, said in a release issued by the governor’s office.

UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart said the governor’s action “provides us the flexibility we need at this time to further develop policies around name, image and likeness.”

“We are appreciative of that support, as it is a bridge until such time as state and/or federal laws are enacted,” Barnhart said in the same release from Beshear’s office. “The landscape of college sports is now in the midst of dramatic and historic change – perhaps the biggest set of shifts and changes since scholarships were first awarded decades ago.”

In Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New Mexico and Texas, laws go into effect July 1 that make it impermissible for the NCAA and members schools to prevent athletes from being paid by third parties for things like sponsorship deals, online endorsements and personal appearances.

The NCAA had hoped for a national law from Congress that has not come, and its own rule-making has been bogged down for months. College sports leaders are instead moving toward the type of patchwork regulation they have been warning against for months.