Bracketology: NCAA tournament projection as of February 27, 2024

  • 02/27/2024 10:24 am in

Following a weekend that saw nearly every team around the cut line lose, we are less than three weeks away from Selection Sunday. As we head down the stretch, a few smaller conferences still harbor hopes of multiple bids.

Ivy – There’s a three-way tie atop the league between Cornell, Princeton, and Yale, but the Tigers have at least the potential for an at-large. Princeton would finish the regular season at 22-3 (reminder: only D-I games count for the committee) if they win their last three games. The challenge is that they have no Q1 wins and won’t be able to pick one up down the stretch or even in the Ivy League tournament, so even though all three losses sit in Q2, an at-large is possible if they lose in the Ivy title game, but it feels unlikely.

Missouri Valley – Indiana State sits atop the league, with Drake close behind. The Sycamores have a Q1 win at Bradley and are 5-4 in the top two quadrants, but a Q4 home loss to Illinois State damaged their at-large hopes. ISU should be able to win its final two regular season games and would probably need to get to the finals of Arch Madness before losing again. Drake is also 5-4 in Q1/Q2 and the Bulldogs’ neutral court win over Nevada has certainly aged well. But they also have three Q2 losses and two more in Q3 and Drake lags behind Indiana State in most team sheet metrics. The league’s best chance at two bids is almost certainly a scenario where both teams make the finals.

Sun Belt – Appalachian State and James Madison have a signature non-conference win, with the Mountaineers knocking off Auburn at home and the Dukes winning at Michigan State. App State swept JMU in the league, though, and is a perfect 3-0 in the top two quadrants, but three Q3 defeats and two more in Q4 have pushed the results-based metrics to a place where it’s likely auto-bid or bust for the Mountaineers. As for James Madison, they rank higher in the NET and most team sheet metrics. The Dukes have lost just three games, two to App State and the other a Q3 loss at Southern Miss. Still, 19 of their 25 wins fall in Q4, but despite being swept by the Mountaineers, they probably have a stronger at-large case.

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 26, 2024. Following the bracket, I included some quick notes on the last four in and first five teams out.

Indianapolis – March 22/24 Brooklyn – March 22/24
1) Purdue 1) Connecticut
16) Grambling / Norfolk St. 16) Fairfield
8) TCU
8) Mississippi State
9) Florida Atlantic 9) Nevada
Spokane – March 22/24 Brooklyn – March 22/24
5) Kentucky
5) Clemson
12) South Florida 12) McNeese State
4) San Diego State 4) Auburn
13) Akron 13) Samford
Omaha – March 21/23 Salt Lake City – March 21/23
6) Washington State 6) Saint Mary’s
11) Princeton 11) Providence / Wake Forest
3) Iowa State 3) Baylor
14) Charleston 14) High Point
Charlotte – March 21/23 Charlotte – March 21/23
7) Colorado State 7) BYU
10) Texas 10) Michigan State
2) Tennessee 2) North Carolina
15) Morehead State
15) Colgate
Salt Lake City – March 21/23 Memphis – March 22/24
1) Arizona 1) Houston
16) E. Kentucky / Merrimack 16) South Dakota State
8) Oklahoma 8) Boise State
9) Northwestern 9) Nebraska
Pittsburgh – March 21/23 Spokane – March 22/24
5) Illinois 5) Dayton
12) Richmond 12) Grand Canyon
4) Creighton 4) Wisconsin
13) Appalachian State 13) UC Irvine
Pittsburgh – March 21/23 Memphis – March 22/24
6) Florida 6) Texas Tech
11) Indiana State
11) Gonzaga / Virginia
3) Duke 3) Alabama
14) Vermont 14) Louisiana Tech
Omaha – March 21/23 Indianapolis – March 22/24
7) Utah State 7) South Carolina
10) Seton Hall 10) New Mexico
2) Kansas 2) Marquette
15) Eastern Washington 15) Oakland

Last Four In:

Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons finally picked up the marquee win they lacked by knocking off Duke at home on Saturday. Their earlier win over Florida has crept into Q1 as well, and Q2 wins over Pitt and Virginia help bolster Wake’s case. The metrics are strong, particularly on the predictive side, but they are just 2-7 in true road games and 3-9 in road/neutral contests. This week provides a pair of road dates and a chance to improve those marks as the Deacs travel to Notre Dame and Virginia Tech.

Virginia: It was a rough week for the Cavaliers, who went 0-2 and failed to top 44 points in either game, dropping them down to nearly 50th in the NET. UVA now sits at 6-7 in the top two quadrants with three Q1 wins and just one other loss, but the Hoos have lost all eight games by double digits and damaged their predictive metrics in the process. Road games at Boston College and Duke are on tap this week.

Providence: The Friars have won three straight following a victory at Xavier last week. They now boast five Q1 wins, although some came before the Bryce Hopkins injury. Even so, the recent winning streak has helped Providence’s metrics, while a relatively poor non-con SOS has left them at just 8-9 in non-Q4 contests. A huge week awaits as the Friars travel to Marquette and host Villanova.

Gonzaga: With all the carnage on the bubble, the Bulldogs have slipped into the field. Even with the recent win at Kentucky, they are still just 1-5 in Q1 contests and 3-6 in the top two quadrants. Eleven of Gonzaga’s 19 victories fall in Q4 and the results-based metrics aren’t overly impressive. Still, the predictive metrics both rank around 20th as they enter the stretch run. The Zags close the regular season with road games at San Francisco and Saint Mary’s.

First Five Out:

Villanova: The Wildcats picked up another solid win by beating Butler at home last week before getting blasted at UConn to drop them back to three games over .500 at 15-12. The quality metrics are very strong, but the results-based metrics are lagging, partly due to three Q3 losses. Tuesday’s game against Georgetown won’t move the needle, but upcoming road dates at Providence and Seton Hall will be enormous opportunities for Nova.

Texas A&M: A four-game losing streak has also dropped the Aggies to 15-12. The resume here is a tough one to figure out. On the one hand, A&M has racked up six Q1 victories and sits at 8-8 in the top two quadrants. On the other hand, they have four Q3 losses, leaving them at just 10-12 in non-Q4 contests. The results-based metrics are both in the mid-60s, while the predictives average out in the upper-40s. The Aggies will look to get back on track as they host South Carolina before traveling to Georgia this week.

Butler: Four straight losses have knocked the Bulldogs down to 15-12 and out of this week’s projected field. Butler is now 3-11 in Q1 with just one other loss and four Q2 victories. A pair of road wins at Creighton and Marquette are among the best in the country, but the metrics still aren’t overly compelling, thanks in part to a 9-12 mark in non-Q4 contests. The Bulldogs have three winnable games remaining, starting this week with a home game against St. John’s and a road trip to DePaul.

Utah: Following a blowout loss at Colorado, the Utes have won just two of their last eight games. Non-league wins over BYU (home), Saint Mary’s (road), and Wake Forest (neutral) all fall in Q1A, but they are just 8-10 in the top two quadrants with several losses to teams not in the at-large picture. Utah is only 2-7 in true road games and sits outside the top 50 in three of the four team sheet metrics. They need to hold serve in games against Stanford and Cal.

Colorado: The Buffs used that aforementioned blowout of Utah to get back into the picture. Their lone Q1 win came at Washington, but they have seven victories in Q2 to go with decent metrics compared to most bubble teams. Colorado is also just 2-7 in true road games and has just one win over an at-large team in this week’s field, but this week’s home games against Cal and Stanford won’t be able to address either of those concerns.

Conference Breakdown:

Big 12 (9): Baylor, BYU, Houston, Iowa St., Kansas, Oklahoma, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech

SEC (7): Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Tennessee

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

Mountain West (6): Boise State, Colorado St., Nevada, New Mexico, San Diego State, Utah State

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

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

American (2): Florida Atlantic, South Florida

Atlantic 10 (2): Dayton, Richmond

Pac-12 (2): Arizona, Washington State

West Coast (2): Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s

America East: Vermont

Atlantic Sun: Eastern Kentucky

Big Sky: Eastern Washington

Big South: High Point

Big West: UC Irvine

Coastal: Charleston

Conference USA: Louisiana Tech

Horizon: Oakland

Ivy: Princeton

MAAC: Fairfield

MAC: Akron

MEAC: Norfolk State

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

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

Filed to: