Selection Sunday winners and losers: Contrasting fortunes for No. 1 seeds

At long last, we have a bracket. March Madness pools are open. Matchups are being dissected. Final Four paths are being sketched out. And some look far more straightforward than others.

Selection Sunday served up very few surprises at the top. But throughout the 2021 NCAA men's tournament bracket, there are imbalances of all kinds. And nowhere are those imbalances more stark than on the No. 1 seed line.

Here are the winners and losers of the bracket reveal, starting with Gonzaga, and continuing below with two other top seeds that could struggle to win their regions.

Selection Sunday winners

Gonzaga | Seed: 1 | Region: West

Gonzaga absolutely earned a kind draw. But not every top seed who earns one gets one. And Gonzaga's is more than a kind draw; it's a dream draw:

The Zags were already going to be a popular Final Four pick before Selection Sunday. Now they should be an overwhelmingly popular one.

Purdue | Seed: 4 | Region: South

The Boilermakers got a gift in the form of a potential second-round matchup with Villanova – who, in its last four games:

  1. Lost to 10-15 Butler

  2. Lost starting point guard Collin Gillespie to an MCL tear

  3. Scored 52 points in a loss at Providence

  4. Lost to Georgetown in its Big East tournament opener

That gives Purdue a relatively clean path to the Sweet 16. And once there, Baylor – the top seed in the South – isn't the juggernaut it was earlier this season.

Purdue guard Jaden Ivey (23) celebrates hitting a 3-pointer during the Big Ten tournament on March 12. (Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Purdue guard Jaden Ivey (23) celebrates hitting a 3-pointer during the Big Ten tournament on March 12. (Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Syracuse | Seed: 11 | Region: Midwest

Not only did 'Cuse get in off the bubble. It avoided a play-in game, and found itself staring at an Elite Eight path that's about as undemanding as a No. 11 seed could possibly imagine. San Diego State is beatable in the first round. West Virginia, the likely second-round opponent, is the weakest of the No. 3 seeds. And Houston is the weakest of the No. 2s.

West Virginia | Seed: 3 | Region: Midwest

The Mountaineers could also be considered a winner. Most bracketologists had them slotted in as a No. 4. They jumped a seed line, and have a similar Elite Eight path to Syracuse's.

Selection Sunday losers

Michigan | Seed: 1 | Region: East

Michigan's Big Ten semifinal loss didn't knock the Wolverines off the top line, but it did bump them below Illinois among No. 1 seeds. The result?

  • A potential second-round matchup with an uber-talented LSU squad. (St. Bonaventure is no slouch, either.)

  • A potential Sweet 16 matchup with arguably the best No. 4 seed, Florida State.

  • And a collision course with the red-hot SEC champs, second-seeded Alabama.

Baylor | Seed: 1 | Region: South

The Bears could have to go through the loaded Big Ten three times to reach the Final Four. A second-round matchup with either Wisconsin or North Carolina is scary. Purdue is formidable as a likely Sweet 16 opponent. And Ohio State, which very nearly won the Big Ten tournament, looms in the bottom half of the region.

Baylor got the second-overall No. 1 seed, but got anything but a simple draw out of it.

Loyola/Georgia Tech | Seed: 8/9 | Region: Midwest

KenPom says Loyola is the ninth-best team in college basketball.

Georgia Tech has won eight in a row, and topped off the streak with an ACC tournament crown.

Their rewards?

Each other, in the first round; and a potential second-round matchup with white-hot Illinois. Brutal.

St. Bonaventure | Seed: 9 | Region: East

The Bonnies are legit. So legit, unfortunately, that their run through the Atlantic-10 tournament propelled them out of the 10-11 seed range and up to a No. 9 seed.

They'd have been capable of beating any No. 6 or 7 seed, and even a No. 2 seed in the second round. Instead, they get LSU-Michigan, a ridiculously difficult one-two punch on the opening weekend.

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