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Wayne Staats | | March 19, 2021

Georgetown is the most popular 2021 March Madness Cinderella pick, according to the data

Tracing the NCAA bracket from 1851 London, through 1977 Staten Island, to today

Bracket Challenge Game players think Georgetown's remarkable 2021 Big East tournament run could continue in the 2021 NCAA tournament.

No. 12 seed Georgetown was picked to reach the Sweet 16 in 14.03 percent of all brackets, making the Hoyas the most popular Sweet 16 selection of any team seeded No. 8 or lower by BCG users. We chose the No. 8 seed because that is the lowest seed to win the tournament (1985 Villanova) since the field expanded in 1985.

PERFECTION: We're tracking perfect brackets in the 2021 NCAA tournament

If 2021 repeats the last NCAA tournament, this pick will make users smile. In 2019, Oregon topped the Cinderella list — and the Ducks reached the Sweet 16 as a No. 12 seed. Murray State, the second-most popular pick and another No. 12 seed, upset No. 5 Marquette before falling to Florida State in the second round.

Here's a look at potential 2021 Cinderella teams, listed by how many BCG users picked them (by percentage) to reach the Sweet 16.

Seed Team Percent picked to Sweet 16
12 Georgetown 14.03
11 Syracuse 11.19
8 LSU 10.63
13 Ohio 9.62
12 Winthrop 9.53
12 UCSB 9.51
8 North Carolina 8.95
14 Colgate 8.80
11 UCLA 7.18
8 Loyola Chicago 7.11
13 Liberty 6.91
10 Maryland 6.46
9 Wisconsin 6.24
10 Rutgers 6.14
10 Virginia Tech 5.63
10 VCU 5.05
11 Utah State 4.99
11 Drake 4.34
9 Georgia Tech 3.66
14 Abilene Christian 3.60
12 Oregon State 3.22
8 Oklahoma 2.89
13 North Texas 2.83
9 St. Bonaventure 2.83
14 Eastern Washington 2.36
15 Oral Roberts 2.04
13 UNC Greensboro 1.99
15 Grand Canyon 1.98
9 Missouri 1.98
15 Iona 1.94
14 Morehead State 1.73
16 Drexel 1.36
15 Cleveland State 1.33
16 Hartford 0.85
16 Texas Southern 0.79
16 Norfolk State 0.78

Georgetown was only 3-8 and later 5-10 this season before the Hoyas turned things around. They won four games in four days in the Big East tournament, including a 73-48 rout of current No. 5 seed Creighton in the championship game.

The Hoyas went from a 9-12 record on March 6 to the most popular Cinderella pick in March Madness less than two weeks later. Georgetown starts its tournament against No. 5 Colorado at 12:15 p.m. ET Saturday on CBS.

After the Hoyas, Syracuse and LSU are the only other teams to hit double digits in percentage picked. Jim Boeheim and the Orange, seeded No. 11, have a history of NCAA tournament runs when not a high seed. In 2016, Syracuse made the Final Four as a No. 10 seed. In 2018, the Orange reached the Sweet 16 as a No. 11 seed. Syracuse plays No. 6 San Diego State at 9:40 p.m. Friday on CBS.

As for LSU, the No. 8 Tigers are coming off an appearance in the SEC tournament title game, falling to current No. 2 seed Alabama by only a point. The Tigers, who rank No. 8 in the nation in points per game (82.1), could meet No. 1 Michigan in the second round.

LSU will play No. 9 St. Bonaventure at 1:45 p.m. Saturday on TNT.

College basketball rankings: Even unranked teams find success in the NCAA tournament

Since the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985 — its modern format — only four of 35 national champions were unranked to start the season. That’s about one in every nine years.

Only .025 percent predicted the 2021 Final Four teams in the Bracket Challenge Game

UCLA's upset of No. 1 Michigan in the Elite Eight turned what could have been a record-high number of perfect picks into a tiny number that went 4-for-4.

A huge majority of NCAA brackets have a No. 1 seed winning the 2021 championship

Here is how many brackets predicted each seed to win the national championship, from Gonzaga and the No. 1 seeds through Drexel and the rest of the No. 16 seeds.
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