Who Will Win the 2021 ESPYS Award for Best Team?

By Nick Sterling in Sports
| July 2, 2021 10:03 am PDT

Every year in sports, we have teams that are head and shoulders above the rest of the league. Sometimes, these teams finish the job and win the championship, while others suffer disappointing endings.

This season, we had seven teams who won a championship in their respective sport. They all performed well enough to earn the ESPYS nominee for Best Team.

Today, we look at those seven nominees and try to predict who will win Best Team at the 2021 ESPYS.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: NFL

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers entered the 2020 season with high expectations. First, they signed six-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Tom Brady. Combine that with two elite wide receivers and an up-and-coming defense, and you have the perfect recipe for a playoff team.

Brady and the Buccaneers began the season with a 34-23 loss to their division rival New Orleans Saints. However, Tampa Bay responded to the loss by winning six of their next seven games, including a dominant 38-10 victory over the Green Bay Packers.

Weeks 9 through 12 weren’t kind to Tampa Bay. They won just one game in the four-game stretch, with all three losses coming in Tampa Bay.

Luckily for them, this was their final loss of the season.

A four-game win streak to close the season gave them an 11-5 record. As a result, they qualified for the postseason for the first time since 2007. With the Saints winning the division, the Buccaneers earned the No. 5 seed in the NFC.

The Buccaneers kicked off the playoffs with a 31-23 victory over the Washington Football Team. Then, they went into New Orleans and defeated them for the first time all season. The win set up an NFC Game showdown with the No. 1 seed Green Bay Packers, who were led by presumed league MVP Aaron Rodgers.

Tampa Bay held off a late rally from Green Bay to advance to their first Super Bowl since 2003. The Buccaneers matched up with the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs. After three road games in the postseason, Tampa Bay became the first team to play the Super Bowl in their home stadium.

The game was never close, as Tampa Bay had their way with the Chiefs offense all night. The 31-9 victory gave the Buccaneers their first Super Bowl since 2003.

Brady won his fifth Super Bowl MVP and seventh Super Bowl overall, too.

The team brought back all 22 of their starters from the Super Bowl, so there’s no reason to believe they won’t be a Super Bowl contender in 2021.

Stanford Cardinals: NCAA Women’s Basketball

The Stanford Cardinals women’s basketball team had lofty expectations for the 2020-2021 season. They began the season ranked No. 2 in the country.

It was an excellent start to the season for Stanford. They opened the season with six wins. The fifth win of the season allowed head coach Tara VanDerveer to surpass the late Pat Summitt for the most career wins in women’s college basketball history with 1,099.

That feat also happens to be up for its own ESPY award, with VenDerveer competing to win Best Record-Breaking Performance.

Who Will Win the 2021 ESPYS Award for Best Record-Breaking Performance?

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The great start moved the Cardinals up to No. 1 in the country.

The end of December and the beginning of January represented a tough stretch for Stanford. They played three top 11 teams in a four-game span, with two of those games coming on the road. Nevertheless, the Cardinals handled their business, winning all four games.

They suffered their only losses of the season in back-to-back games against Colorado and UCLA. The losses dropped them to No. 5 in the rankings.

Stanford regrouped from the losses and won the final 11 games of the regular season. Then, they cruised through the Pac-12 Tournament, including a 75-55 victory over UCLA in the Championship Game.

An amazing season gave Stanford the No. 2 overall seed in the NCAA Women’s Tournament. They won their first four games by double digits before narrowly defeating South Carolina 66-65 in the Final Four.

The Cardinals won their first National Championship since 1992. They defeated the Arizona Wildcats by a score of 54-53. Stanford finished the season 31-2.

We’ve seen Stanford make it past the second round of the NCAA Women’s Tournament every year since 2008. They are always one of the top teams in the country, and I don’t expect that to change in 2021-2022.

Baylor Bears: NCAA Men’s Basketball

The Baylor Bears men’s basketball team had their true breakout season in 2019-2020.

Baylor ranked No. 1 for much of the season and was on track to make a deep run in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. But, as we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic canceled that tournament.

Going into the season, everyone knew Baylor, along with the Gonzaga Bulldogs, would be the teams to beat. The two were scheduled to play on December 5, but COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the game.

Baylor looked unstoppable in the first three months of the season. They started 17-0, with four wins over top 15 teams.

Unfortunately, their season came to a halt in February due to COVID-19. After three weeks off the court, Baylor returned to action on February 23. They barely beat an Iowa State team that was 2-16 entering the game.

The Kansas Jayhawks handed Baylor their first loss of the season on February 27. It was just their second game back from the three-week break, and they looked rusty.

The Bears got their mojo back with three wins over ranked opponents to close the regular season. They defeated Kansas State to begin the Big-12 Tournament but suffered a disappointing loss to Oklahoma State in the semifinals.

In the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, Baylor did what everyone expected them to do. They took care of business, winning four of their first five games by over 10 points. The run set up a long-anticipated matchup with Gonzaga.

Gonzaga entered the game 31-0, looking to become the first undefeated team to win the National Championship since 1979. Baylor wasn’t fazed, as they jumped out to a 9-0 lead and never looked back.

They won their first National Championship with an 86-70 victory over Gonzaga. Baylor finished the season with a 31-2 record.

Baylor lost a few guys to the NBA Draft, so it’ll be tough to repeat as champions, but I think they’ll be up for the challenge.

Alabama Crimson Tide: NCAA Football

Coming off a season where they missed the College Football Playoff, the Alabama Crimson Tide were eager to get back to the biggest stage in college football.

They began the season ranked No. 2 in the rankings. Alabama’s championship run began with a 38-19 victory over Missouri. They defeated two top 15 teams in their next three games. The Crimson Tide defeated Texas A&M 52-24 and Georgia 41-24.

Two more wins combined with a Clemson loss made them the new No. 1 team in the country. Alabama continued their beatdown tour with dominant wins over longtime rival Auburn, LSU, and Arkansas.

The toughest challenge of the season for Alabama came in the SEC Championship Game against the Florida Gators. Despite never trailing in the game, Alabama just couldn’t seem to shake the Gators. The Crimson Tide led by 18 at halftime, but Florida cut the deficit to four, entering the fourth quarter. Alabama held on to win the game 52-46.

An undefeated regular season earned them the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff. They kicked it off with a dominant 31-14 victory over Notre Dame in the Rose Bowl.

Alabama flexed their muscle one last time with a 52-24 victory over Ohio State in the National Championship Game. It was the school’s third National Championship since 2016.

The Crimson Tide finished the season 13-0. It was their first undefeated season since 2009.

Quarterback Mac Jones, running back Najee Harris, and Heisman Trophy-winning wide receiver DeVonta Smith all became first-round draft picks in this year’s NFL Draft. Alabama loses talent like this every year, but they always come back the following season just as strong.

Oklahoma Sooners: NCAA Women’s Softball

The Oklahoma Sooners women’s softball team has been one of the best teams in the last decade. They won the National Championship in 2013, 2016, and 2017.

Oklahoma began their season with a 29-0 victory over UTEP. They won all 12 of their games in February. The Sooners pitched six shutouts and scored over 20 runs in three games.

They became the No. 1 team in the rankings at the beginning of March. They continued their strong run with a 13-0 month. Their stellar pitching continued with six shutouts.

After starting the season 33-0, Oklahoma finally lost their first game of the season. The Georgia Bulldogs defeated the Sooners by a score of 7-6 on April 20. Oklahoma got their revenge later that day with a 12-3 victory over Georgia.

The Sooners won their next seven games before suffering their second loss of the season. This time, it was Oklahoma State who got the best of them.

After winning the Big Ten Tournament, Oklahoma entered the Women’s College World Series as the No. 1 seed. They suffered a shocking defeat against James Madison in the first round, but the double-elimination format kept them alive. They shook off the loss and eventually got their revenge on James Madison by defeating them 2-0 in a three-game series in the semifinals.

Oklahoma met Florida State in the finals. The Sooners lost the first game but responded to win the following two to win their fourth National Championship since 2013. They finished with an overall record of 56-4.

An amazing Sooners offense set numerous records. They hit the most home runs in a women’s college softball season with 161. They also set records in runs scored (638), batting average (.405), and slugging percentage (.778).

The Sooners have reached the Women’s College World Series nine consecutive times. Their dynasty-like run should continue into next season, as they added Hope Trautwein to the roster.

Seattle Storm: WNBA

Expectations were high for the Seattle Storm entering the 2020 season. Their star player, Breanna Stewart, returned after missing the entire 2019 season with a torn Achilles.

It was a strong start to the season for Seattle. They lost their third game of the season to the defending champion Washington Mystics but rattled off nine straight wins after that. Stewart was the highest scorer in nine of the first 12 games of the season.

The Storm lost back-to-back games for the only time all season against the Indiana Fever and Las Vegas Aces. They bounced back from the losses with a seven-game win streak.

Seattle entered the final game of the regular season with an 18-3 record. They matched up against the 17-4 Aces. The winner of the game would clinch the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. Seattle led by seven after the first quarter, but Las Vegas took a two-point lead into the half. The Aces held off Seattle in the second half to win 86-84.

Both Seattle and Las Vegas earned double byes in the playoffs. The semifinals were a best of five series. Seattle barely defeated the Minnesota Lynx in Game 1 by a score of 88-86. The Storm cruised in their next two games to make their second finals appearance in three seasons.

The WNBA Finals saw Seattle match-up with Las Vegas. After losing to them twice in the regular season, Seattle dismantled them in a three-game sweep, including a 92-59 win in Game 3. Seattle won their fourth championship in franchise history.

As long as Stewart is running the show in Seattle, they’ll be one of the best teams in the WNBA.

Los Angeles Dodgers: MLB

Every year, it seems like the Los Angeles Dodgers are on the brink of winning the World Series. They’ve won the NL West every season since 2013. They even made it to the World Series in 2017 and 2018, losing both times.

Just look at their history of failures in recent memory.

  • 2013: Lost in NLCS
  • 2014: Lost in NLDS
  • 2015: Lost in NLDS
  • 2016: Lost in NLCS
  • 2017: Lost in World Series
  • 2018: Lost in World Series
  • 2019: Lost in NLDS

Would 2020 finally be their year?

COVID-19 shortened the MLB season to 60 games in 2020. This meant there was little room for error. The Dodgers showed everyone they were one of the best teams in the league.

Los Angeles had a solid start to the season, going just 11-7 over their first 18 games. However, they turned it on by going 19-3 over their next 22 games.

The Dodgers closed the season 13-7 to finish with an MLB best 43-17 record.

Their playoff run got off to an excellent start with sweeps on the Milwaukee Brewers and San Diego Padres. The series sweeps set up an NLCS matchup with the Atlanta Braves. The Braves took the first two games before the Dodgers captured their first win of the series in a 15-3 win in Game 3.

Atlanta took a commanding 3-1 series lead with a 10-2 victory in Game 4. Just when everyone thought it would be another disappointing playoff result for the Dodgers, they flipped the script. They won the next three games to win the NL pennant for the third time in four years.

The World Series pitted the Dodgers against the Tampa Bay Rays. The teams took turns winning games, with the Dodgers taking games 1 and 3, while the Rays won games 2 and 4. Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw won his second game of the series with a 4-2 victory in Game 5.

Los Angeles won their first World Series since 1988 with a 3-1 victory in Game 6. They finally got over that unclimbable hill.

The Dodgers are off to another great start in 2021 and look poised to make a run at a second straight World Series. So watch out for Los Angeles in the second half of the season.

Predicting Who Wins Best Team at the 2021 ESPY Awards

This is no doubt the toughest ESPY award to predict the winner for. All these teams had fantastic seasons and capped them off with championships.

Because of the competition, I’m ruling out all the teams that didn’t finish with the best record in the regular season.

That leaves Alabama, Oklahoma, and Los Angeles.

By the slimmest of margins, I’m taking Alabama over Oklahoma. Both teams had record-breaking seasons, but Alabama being undefeated gave them a slight edge. It also didn’t help Oklahoma’s case that they lost their first game of the Women’s College World Series.

I expect all these teams to be back in championship contention in 2021 and 2022.

You can’t be the best team in sports, but you can potentially profit from predicting which teams get the award. Unfortunately, there aren’t props or odds out yet, but keep tabs wherever you bet on sports online and use my analysis and prediction to help you bet.

Of course, this 2021 ESPYS Best Team prediction is just the tip of the iceberg. For more breakdowns and picks, hit up some extra ESPYS posts below.

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