Bracketology: NCAA tournament projection as of January 16, 2024

  • 01/16/2024 10:57 am in

It’s hard to believe it’s mid-January, and we are already less than nine weeks away from Selection Sunday. My commitment to watch the Eagles cap off an epic collapse prevented me from doing a full write-up, but here are a couple of quick notes on the first in-season bracket projections of the season:

• Purdue and UConn were the top one seeds, but several other teams are in the mix. Kansas has already notched five Q1 wins, including three in Q1A, while their result-based metrics are outpacing the predictives. North Carolina has five Q1 wins as well and ranks in the Top 10 in all team sheet metrics. Arizona has four Q1A victories, including a huge road win at Duke, but they have four losses already. Houston ranks first in the NET and both sets of predictive metrics, and while the Cougars do boast four Q1 wins, eight of their 14 victories sit in Q4. I have a feeling there will be a lot of movement among the one seeds in the future.

• The Big 12 and SEC lead the way with eight teams in the field, with the Big East close behind at seven. The Big Ten has six schools in this week’s field, but just three are single-digit seeds, while the Mountain West is tied with the ACC with five teams each.

Here’s a quick refresher about how the NCAA selection committee classifies wins based on the NET rating:

· Quad 1: Home vs. teams ranked 1-30 / Neutral vs. teams ranked 1-50 / Road vs. teams ranked 1-75
· Quad 2: Home vs. teams ranked 31-75 / Neutral vs. teams ranked 51-100 / Road vs. teams ranked 76-135
· Quad 3: Home vs. teams ranked 76-160 / Neutral vs. teams ranked 101-200 / Road vs. teams ranked 136-240
· Quad 4: Home vs. teams ranked 161-351 / Neutral vs. teams ranked 201-351 / Road vs. teams ranked 241-351

The Bracket

The projections below are based on all games played through January 15, 2023. Following the bracket, I included some quick notes on the last four in and first six teams out.

Indianapolis – March 22/24 Brooklyn – March 22/24
1) Purdue 1) Connecticut
16) Lafayette / NC Central 16) Western Illinois
8) Texas A&M
8) Ole Miss
9) TCU 9) Texas Tech
Spokane – March 22/24 Brooklyn – March 22/24
5) Dayton
5) Clemson
12) Drake 12) Princeton
4) Creighton 4) Kentucky
13) Drexel 13) Akron
Pittsburgh – March 21/23 Memphis – March 22/24
6) Colorado St. 6) Florida Atlantic
11) Grand Canyon 11) Providence / Wake Forest
3) Duke 3) Baylor
14) Vermont 14) Oakland
Memphis – March 22/24 Indianapolis – March 22/24
7) Villanova 7) Iowa St.
10) Northwestern 10) Seton Hall
2) Houston 2) Wisconsin
15) Sam Houston St.
15) Kennesaw St.
Charlotte – March 21/23 Omaha – March 21/23
1) North Carolina 1) Kansas
16) Denver 16) C. Connecticut St. / Jackson St.
8) Nevada 8) St. John’s
9) Mississippi St. 9) South Carolina
Spokane – March 22/24 Salt Lake City – March 21/23
5) Oklahoma 5) Alabama
12) Saint Mary’s 12) McNeese St.
4) Illinois 4) Marquette
13) UC Irvine 13) Samford
Pittsburgh – March 21/23 Omaha – March 21/23
6) San Diego St. 6) Utah St.
11) Miami FL / Michigan St.
11) Oregon
3) Auburn 3) Memphis
14) Eastern Washington 14) High Point
Salt Lake City – March 21/23 Charlotte – March 21/23
7) BYU 7) Utah
10) Boise St. 10) Nebraska
2) Arizona 2) Tennessee
15) Saint Peter’s 15) Troy

Last Four In:

Michigan State – The Spartans rank 22nd in the NET despite already suffering seven losses and not winning a true road game, contributing to poor result-based metrics. The predictive metrics love them though, and it’s worth noting that six of their seven losses fall in Q1. A neutral court win over Baylor looms large and home victories over Indiana State and Butler are helpful for bubble purposes.

Wake Forest – While the Demon Deacons don’t have a Q1 victory yet, they have five wins in Q2. Solid metrics in both categories help their cause, but most of Wake’s best wins (Florida, Virginia Tech, Miami FL, and Virginia) have come at home.

Providence – The Friars have lost four straight and are reeling after losing Bryce Hopkins to a season-ending injury. Victories over Wisconsin and Marquette are tremendous, but Providence’s grip on a bid is tenuous.

Miami (FL) – Losing to Louisville doesn’t automatically disqualify the Canes from a bid, but it certainly doesn’t help. Q1 wins over Clemson at home and on the road against Virginia Tech are solid, but half of Miami’s wins fall in Q4.

First Six Out:

New Mexico – The Lobos have home wins over San Diego State and UC Irvine and not much else, but a six-bid Mountain West is not out of the question.

Cincinnati – A huge road win at BYU is UC’s only victory in the top two quadrants, but the Bearcats don’t have a bad loss and boast strong predictive metrics.

Butler – The Bulldogs don’t rank inside the top 60 in any of the team sheet metrics, but they have a trio of solid wins over Marquette (road), Boise State (neutral), and Texas Tech (home).

Gonzaga – It’s almost hard to envision the tournament without the Zags, but their early neutral-court wins over Syracuse, USC, and UCLA have not aged well. Gonzaga is 0-4 in Q1, with both result-based metrics lower than 75th.

Ohio State – Even before the Buckeyes lost at Michigan on Monday, I had OSU out. The neutral-court win over Alabama is great, but they have no road wins and no other victories in the top two quadrants.

Colorado – The Buffs are now 0-4 in true road games, and while they do have a quartet of Q2 victories, they are on the outside looking in for now, thanks in part to a 5-5 mark in non-Q4 contests.

Conference Breakdown:

Big 12 (8): Baylor, BYU, Houston, Iowa St., Kansas, Oklahoma, TCU, Texas Tech

SEC (8): Alabama, Auburn, Kentucky, Mississippi, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M

Big East (7): Connecticut, Creighton, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John’s, Villanova

Big Ten (6): Illinois, Michigan State, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue, Wisconsin

ACC (5): Clemson, Duke, Miami (FL), North Carolina, Wake Forest

Mountain West (5): Boise State, Colorado St., Nevada, San Diego State, Utah State

Pac-12 (3): Arizona, Oregon, Utah

American (2): Florida Atlantic, Memphis

Atlantic 10: Dayton

America East: Vermont

Atlantic Sun: Kennesaw State

Big Sky: Eastern Washington

Big South: High Point

Big West: UC Irvine

Coastal: Drexel

Conference USA: Sam Houston State

Horizon: Oakland

Ivy: Princeton

MAAC: Saint Peter’s

MAC: Akron

MEAC: NC Central

Missouri Valley: Drake

Northeast: Central Connecticut State

Ohio Valley: Western Illinois

Patriot: Lafayette

Southern: Samford

Southland: McNeese State

SWAC: Jackson State

Summit: Denver

Sun Belt: Troy

WAC: Grand Canyon

West Coast: Saint Mary’s

Follow Andy on Twitter (@andybottoms) for more thoughts on college hoops and to receive an update whenever new brackets are posted.

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