After the first two rounds of the 2021 March Madness tournament, it’s safe to say the public vastly overrated the Big Ten, while so-called experts highly underrated the Pac-12. Four out of the five Pac-12 teams that earned bids to March Madness are still alive, whereas only one out of nine Big Ten teams remain in the tournament.

USC Evan Mobley Isaiah Pac-12 March Madness Conference Big Ten
The Mobley brothers, Isaiah (3) and Evan (4), led the USC Trojans to a berth in the Sweet 16 as one of four PAC-12 teams remaining in March Madness. (Image: NYT)

Oregon State, Oregon, UCLA, and USC are all alive. Colorado is the lone Pac-12 team to bust. Overall in March Madness this year, the Pac-12 posted a 10-1 record, which includes a play-in game won by UCLA.

The ACC and Big 12 both sent seven teams to the Big Dance. Baylor remains the only Big 12 team alive out of seven with eliminations from Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Tech, West Virginia, Kansas, and Oklahoma.

Syracuse and FSU are the only two out of seven ACC teams still alive. North Carolina, Virginia, Clemson, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech were all bounced.


2021 March Madness (Thru Sweet 16)
Tournament Teams
Remaining Teams
Big Ten 9 1
ACC 7 2
Big 12 7 1
SEC 6 2
Pac-12 5 4
Big East 4 2

The SEC sent six teams to March Madness, but only #3 Arkansas and #2 Alabama remain. A pair of #5 seeds, Creighton and Villanova, are the only two of four Big East teams that are still alive.

The American (Houston), WCC (Gonzaga), and Missouri Valley (Loyola Chicago) still have teams remaining. Oral Roberts is the lone team from the Summit Conference, and they represent the only single-team conference in the Sweet 16.

Big Ten, Big Bust

The Big Ten drew a slew of attention this year as the strongest of the power conferences. At one point, three Big Ten teams occupied the AP Top 5 Poll.

The NCAA March Madness selection committee sent nine teams from the Big Ten to the tournament this year, more than any other conference, including two #1 seeds and one #2 seed. #1 Michigan is the only Big Ten squad that advanced to the Sweet 16.

#2 Ohio State was knocked out of the first round in a stunning upset by #15 Oral Roberts, who made history as the ninth team in history to pull off a #15 vs #2 upset.

#4 Purdue made an early exit when they ran into Javion Hamlet and the #13 North Texas Mean Green.

#1 Illinois was ambushed in the second round by Sister Jean and #8 Loyola Chicago.

#2 Iowa bowed out in the Round of 32 when #7 Oregon ran roughshod over Luka Garza and the Buckeyes. #9 Wisconsin was knocked out in the second round by #1 Baylor.

#10 seeds Maryland and Rutgers won their opening round matches against #7 seeds, but they were eliminated in the second round.

In the play-in game, Michigan State lost to UCLA to determine the #11 seed.

Through the first two rounds and play-in games, the Big Ten recorded a 7-8 record in 2021 March Madness.

Pac-12 Back?

A West Coast team hasn’t been a March Madness champion since Lute Olson and Arizona won in 1997. Undefeated Gonzaga from the WCC has the inside track as the most-likely team from the West to cut down the nets. The Pac-12 makes up 25% of the remaining field.

At least one Pac-12 team will definitely meet their fate in the next round. Two Pac-12 teams square off in the Sweet 16, with #6 USC and #7 Oregon throwing down in the West regional. Freshman Evan Mobley from USC will be a future lottery pick and scouts consider him to be the best big man available in the upcoming 2021 NBA Draft. Along with his older brother Isaiah, the Mobleys hope to continue the Trojans’ march to the Final Four.

#11 UCLA and #2 Alabama slug it out in the East Regional to determine a trip to the Elite 8. UCLA has been the biggest surprise of the tournament, considering they were a bubble team and are playing without their star player, senior point guard Chris Smith, who tore his ACL in the first week of January.

The hottest team in the tournament, the #12 Oregon State Beavers, earned a tough draw against the #8 Loyola Chicago Ramblers. Loyola Chicago played the role of spoiler and bracket buster once again this season when they toppled #1 Illinois in the second round.

Meanwhile, #5 Colorado is the only Pac-12 team that busted. Colorado demolished #12 Georgetown in the first round. Patrick Ewing’s Hoyas couldn’t keep up with the Buffs.

In the second round, Colorado played one of their worst games of the year against #4 FSU. Due to the tragic circumstances of a mass shooting in Boulder hours before tipoff, several of the players struggled with keeping their heads in the game.

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