Bracketology: NCAA tournament projection as of February 6, 2024

  • 02/06/2024 10:25 am in

Thanks to an incredible slate of games on Saturday, there was a lot of movement in this week’s bracket. One of the key themes of the weekend was strong road wins by teams toward the top of the bracket, as well as several teams on the bubble. It started on Friday with Butler winning at Creighton, which put them into the field with room to spare. Purdue and UConn retained the top two spots on the seed list, winning at Wisconsin and St. John’s, respectively. Tennessee also won by double digits at Rupp Arena to bolster its case for a potential one-seed. In the Big 12, Texas shot up the seed list after winning at TCU, while Cincinnati went into Lubbock and beat Texas Tech to notch a second key road victory in league play. Fellow bubbler Virginia won at Clemson to help solidify the Hoos’ spot in the field.

Others weren’t so lucky, as bubble teams like Colorado, Florida, Mississippi State, Oregon, and Virginia Tech all fell on the road to make their cases a little shakier with less than six weeks until Selection Sunday.

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 1A: Home vs. teams ranked 1-15 / Neutral vs. teams ranked 1-25 / Road vs. teams ranked 1-40
· 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 February 5, 2024. 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) Grambling / NC Central 16) Quinnipiac
8) TCU
8) Clemson
9) New Mexico 9) Michigan State
Spokane – March 22/24 Pittsburgh – March 21/23
5) San Diego State
5) BYU
12) Appalachian State 12) Mississippi St. / Seton Hall
4) Duke 4) Illinois
13) Louisiana Tech 13) Yale
Salt Lake City – March 21/23 Memphis – March 22/24
6) Kentucky 6) Florida Atlantic
11) Grand Canyon 11) Cincinnati / Virginia
3) Baylor 3) Alabama
14) Drexel 14) Akron
Charlotte – March 21/23 Omaha – March 21/23
7) Texas 7) Utah
10) Northwestern 10) Texas A&M
2) Tennessee 2) Kansas
15) Colgate
15) Oakland
Charlotte – March 21/23 Memphis – March 22/24
1) North Carolina 1) Houston
16) E. Kentucky / Merrimack 16) South Dakota State
8) Saint Mary’s 8) Boise State
9) Butler 9) Nebraska
Brooklyn – March 22/24 Spokane – March 22/24
5) South Carolina 5) Creighton
12) Richmond 12) McNeese State
4) Iowa State 4) Auburn
13) Samford 13) UC Irvine
Pittsburgh – March 21/23 Omaha – March 21/23
6) Texas Tech 6) Utah State
11) Florida
11) Ole Miss
3) Dayton 3) Wisconsin
14) Vermont 14) Morehead State
Salt Lake City – March 21/23 Indianapolis – March 22/24
7) Colorado State 7) Oklahoma
10) Indiana State 10) Washington State
2) Arizona 2) Marquette
15) Eastern Washington 15) High Point

Last Four In:

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs have a quartet of solid victories, beating Tennessee and Auburn at home while knocking off Northwestern and Washington State as part of their 6-0 neutral court record. Oddly, they are 0-6 in true road contests and have also picked up a Q4 home loss to Southern. This week features a home date with Georgia and another shot at that first road win with a trip to Missouri.

Virginia: After picking up a huge road win at Clemson, the Cavaliers routed Miami at home on Monday. They are now 6-4 in the top two quadrants with solid metrics and a 5-5 mark in road/neutral games. A relatively favorable upcoming schedule will provide UVA with a chance to stack more wins in an ACC that doesn’t give many chances for marquee victories.

Seton Hall: The Pirates got back in the win column thanks to a matchup with DePaul, and while their four Q1 wins are more than most bubble teams can claim, the metrics aren’t particularly compelling. They are also just 7-8 in non-Q4 contests, heading into a home date with Georgetown and a road trip to fellow bubbler Villanova.

Cincinnati: Saturday’s win at Texas Tech is enough to put the Bearcats in the field for now and pairs nicely with an earlier road win at BYU. UC has also beaten TCU at home and has strong quality metrics, but eight of their 15 victories fall in Q4 thanks in part to a non-conference strength of schedule hovering around 300th. Another huge opportunity awaits when the Bearcats host Houston on Saturday.

First Six Out:

St. John’s: To be candid, this was the only team I struggled to leave out of this week’s field. The Red Storm have resume metrics that average in the low 50s, thanks partly to a 2-7 mark in Q1 and a Q3 loss to Michigan that looks worse each week. St. John’s does have a neutral-court win over Utah, a sweep of Villanova, and home wins over Butler, Xavier, and Providence. They cannot afford to stumble against DePaul this week before hitting the road to face Marquette and Providence.

Villanova: The Wildcats have some terrific wins on their profile, winning neutral court games against North Carolina and Texas Tech and picking up an overtime victory at Creighton. But even after Sunday’s blowout win over Providence, Villanova is just 12-10. The last team to earn an at-large bid after finishing just two games over .500 was Georgia in 2001, so history is not on Nova’s side. Just three teams have been selected at three games over .500, with two coming in the COVID-impacted 2021 season, where many teams played fewer games than usual. The Wildcats split their games last week but need to do better than that this week as they travel to Xavier before hosting Seton Hall.

Memphis: It’s been quite a fall for the Tigers, who were once a protected seed and now sit at 81st in the NET with poor quality metrics. The results-based metrics are better thanks to wins over Texas A&M, Clemson, and Virginia, but a Q4 home loss to Rice is hard to overlook. Memphis plays three of its next four on the road, starting with a trip to Temple this week.

Colorado: While both sets of metrics look decent enough for the Buffs, a lack of top-end wins remains the issue. Colorado is 1-4 in Q1 contests and 6-7 in the top two quadrants, with a home win over Washington State, their lone victory over an at-large team in the field. The Buffs missed out on a key win by losing at Utah, but they host the Arizona schools this week.

Kansas State: The Wildcats broke a four-game losing streak with a huge home victory over Kansas on Monday night, while simultaneously delaying my ability to finish this week’s projections. They moved up slightly to 79th in the NET with a 2-3 mark in Q1 with the other win coming at home against Baylor. K-State has four Q2 wins as well, but they have a Q3 loss at Oklahoma State and a neutral court loss to USC that will probably fall into Q3 eventually. Metrics are inconsistent with SOR in the 40s, BPI in the 50s, KPI in the 60s, and KenPom in the 70s. We’ll learn a lot about them down the stretch with six of their eight remaining games currently falling in Q1.

Providence: Life without Bryce Hopkins has been difficult for the Friars, as they are now just 3-5 since his injury. Providence is 5-8 in the top two quadrants, but their other nine victories are all in Q4. And even with wins over Marquette and Wisconsin, the result-based metrics average out in the low 60s. This week features key games at home against Creighton and on the road versus Butler.

Conference Breakdown:

Big 12 (10): Baylor, BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, Iowa St., Kansas, Oklahoma, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech

SEC (9): Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M

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

Big East (5): Butler, Connecticut, Creighton, Marquette, Seton Hall

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

ACC (4): Clemson, Duke, North Carolina, Virginia

Pac-12 (3): Arizona, Utah, Washington State

Atlantic 10 (2): Dayton, Richmond

America East: Vermont

American: Florida Atlantic

Atlantic Sun: Eastern Kentucky

Big Sky: Eastern Washington

Big South: High Point

Big West: UC Irvine

Coastal: Drexel

Conference USA: Louisiana Tech

Horizon: Oakland

Ivy: Yale

MAAC: Quinnipiac

MAC: Akron

MEAC: North Carolina Central

Missouri Valley: Indiana State

Northeast: Merrimack

Ohio Valley: Morehead State

Patriot: Colgate

Southern: Samford

Southland: McNeese State

SWAC: Grambling

Summit: South Dakota State

Sun Belt: Appalachian State

WAC: Grand Canyon

West Coast: Saint Mary’s

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