NCAA Tournament: A Lot Can Change in Two Years

The 2021 NCAA Tournament is a go, after not being held in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A LOT has changed sine the last version of the Tournament in 2019, to this year.

For starters, two of the most prestigious programs missed this year’s tournament. In 2019, Duke was a 1 seed led by Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett and Kentucky was a 2 seed. Two years later, both are watching from home. 

Kentucky lost in the Elite 8 to SEC rival Auburn, who made their first ever Final Four. Auburn finished this season 13-14 overall and 7-11 in SEC play. 

Virginia Tech went 12-6 in the ACC and was a 4 seed, winning their first round game. Head coach Buzz Williams is now at Texas A&M. Kerry Blackshear Jr made the all tournament team from the East regional for VT. In 2020, Blackshear played for Florida. Today, Virginia Tech and Florida kick off the round of 64.  

Minnesota defeated Louisville in the first round of the 2019 tourney. Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino, son of former Louisville coach Rick Pitino, was fired by the Gophers shortly after the 2021 season ended, two years after winning his only tourney game during his eight year tenure. In 2021, Rick Pitino is back in the Big Dance, coaching Iona.

Gonzaga beat Baylor 83-71 in the 1/9 matchup in the second round. These two are now poised for a potential National Championship game meeting after being ranked 1 and 2, respectively, most of the season. 

Texas Tech’s run to the Final Four included three teams whose coaches voluntarily left after the losses.

  • Beat Northern Kentucky in round 1 – John Brannen is now at Cincinnati
  • Beat Buffalo round 2 – Nate Oats has Alabama as a 2 seed
  • Beat Michigan in Sweet 16 – John Beilein shockingly took the Cleveland Cavaliers job and resigned/fired halfway through his first season and is currently unemployed.

Texas Tech and Kansas State split the 2019 Big 12 regular season title, both finishing 14-4 and snapping Kansas’ streak of 14 years clinching at least a share of the Big 12 title. Two years later, after K-State entered the tourney as a 4 seed, they are home watching after going 4-14 in Big 12 play and 9-20 overall.

2019 was Cincinnati’s 9th straight tournament appearance and they finished 2021 one win away from stealing a tourney bid, losing in the AAC championship. Now, not only is the streak snapped, but 6 key players are in the transfer portal and only 4 remain on scholarship.

Washington finished first in the PAC-12, going 15-3 in conference play and 27-9 overall. This season, they went 4-16, finishing second to last and going a brutal 5-21 overall. 

Iowa State won the Big 12 tourney in 2019 and was a 6 seed. This year, they went 0-18 and 2-22 overall.  

Mike is an alum of the University of Cincinnati and the ultimate sports nerd.

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