Bracketology: NCAA tournament projection as of March 13, 2024

  • 03/13/2024 9:30 am in

Five more bids were handed out on Tuesday night and while a few major conference tournaments got underway, there really weren’t any meaningful games. That all changes on Wednesday with several key games on the slate:

• In the ACC, Wake Forest, Syracuse, and Virginia Tech are all technically still alive (although some more than others), but none of them can move the needle in their Wednesday games. However, victories there would open up quarterfinal opportunities for each. Wake would face Pitt, who is also in the bubble discussion, while Syracuse and Virginia Tech would face Duke and North Carolina, respectively.

• It’s a similar story in the Big East for Villanova and Providence. The Wildcats would take on Marquette in the quarterfinals as long as they don’t slip up against DePaul, while the Friars need to avoid disaster against Georgetown to set up a date with Creighton.

• Perhaps not surprisingly, the Big 12 has the best slate of games, headlined by TCU-Oklahoma. Both teams could use one more win to solidify their case with both in the 9-to-11 seed range depending on where you look. Kansas State faces Texas and needs a deep run to get into the field, while Cincinnati has a chance to get to the quarterfinals by knocking off a banged-up Kansas squad.

• In the Mountain West, New Mexico and Colorado State are in action in games that can only hurt them.

• Utah needs to beat Arizona State in the Pac-12 Tournament to keep its slim at-large chances alive.

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 March 12, 2024. Following the bracket, I included some quick notes on the last four in and first four teams out.

Indianapolis – March 22/24 Memphis – March 22/24
1) Purdue 1) Houston
16) Norfolk St. / Wagner 16) Longwood
8) Boise State
8) Florida
9) Oklahoma 9) Northwestern
Pittsburgh – March 21/23 Spokane – March 22/24
5) Clemson
5) Utah State
12) James Madison 12) Richmond
4) Kentucky 4) Alabama
13) McNeese State 13) Vermont
Pittsburgh – March 21/23 Brooklyn – March 22/24
6) Wisconsin 6) Dayton
11) Drake 11) Indiana St. / Texas A&M
3) Creighton 3) Duke
14) Charleston 14) Morehead State
Memphis – March 22/24 Indianapolis – March 22/24
7) Gonzaga 7) Washington State
10) Mississippi State 10) TCU
2) Baylor 2) Marquette
15) Sam Houston
15) South Dakota State
Charlotte – March 21/23 Brooklyn – March 22/24
1) Tennessee 1) Connecticut
16) Grambling / Stetson 16) Quinnipiac
8) Texas 8) Colorado State
9) Florida Atlantic 9) Nebraska
Spokane – March 22/24 Salt Lake City – March 21/23
5) South Carolina 5) BYU
12) South Florida 12) Grand Canyon
4) Illinois 4) Auburn
13) UC Irvine 13) Samford
Omaha – March 21/23 Omaha – March 21/23
6) San Diego State 6) Nevada
11) Princeton
11) St. John’s / Virginia
3) Kansas 3) Iowa State
14) Oakland 14) Toledo
Salt Lake City – March 21/23 Charlotte – March 21/23
7) Saint Mary’s 7) Texas Tech
10) Seton Hall 10) Michigan State
2) Arizona 2) North Carolina
15) Montana 15) Colgate

Last Four In:

Virginia: The Cavaliers closed the season with a 15-point win over Georgia Tech on Saturday. UVA sits at 8-9 in the top two quadrants with two Q1 wins (at Clemson and Florida on a neutral court) and no other losses. However, all nine losses have come by double digits, damaging their predictive metrics in the process. A probable quarterfinal matchup with Clemson in the ACC Tournament would provide the opportunity for a much-needed quality win.

St. John’s: After avoiding disaster in games against DePaul and Georgetown, the Red Storm remain firmly in the bubble mix. They now have three Q1 wins and nine victories in the top two quadrants, including a sweep of Villanova and a neutral-court win over fellow bubbler Utah. However, just one of their victories came against an at-large team in today’s field (Creighton). Thursday’s date with Seton Hall is shaping up to be an important one for both squads.

Indiana State: It will be a long few days of waiting for the Sycamores. All four team sheet metrics are hovering around 40th and ISU is 29th in the NET. That said, their lone Q1 victory came at Bradley, and their other two Top 100 victories were at home against Drake and Bradley. ISU has just two losses outside the top quadrant, but one is a brutal Q4 loss to Illinois State. It feels like we’ve seen the committee give some top mid-majors the benefit of the doubt in recent years, and I plan to dig in more this week to find out whether those comparisons reflect favorably on Indiana State.

Texas A&M: The Aggies have assembled an odd profile. On the one hand, they have five Q1 victories and are 11-9 against the top two quadrants, with wins over Tennessee and Kentucky at home and Iowa State on a neutral floor. A top 25 non-conference strength of schedule may help A&M as well, but they’ve also managed to go just 2-4 in Q3, contributing to their 13 total losses. The Aggies won at Ole Miss to close out the regular season and will take on the Rebels again in their first SEC Tournament contest.

First Four Out:

Colorado: The Buffs swept the road trip to the Oregon schools, which helped to bolster their road record. Their two Q1 wins came at Washington and Oregon, while they have just one victory over an at-large team in this week’s field (Washington State). Colorado’s team sheet metrics tend to compare favorably to other bubble teams, and even though the Buffs don’t have any losses outside of the top two quadrants, they do have four losses to teams ranked 95th or worse in the NET that sit on the low end of Q2. CU will face either Utah or Arizona State on Thursday.

New Mexico: After dropping a close game at Utah State, the Lobos are on the outside looking in. They have six wins in the top two quadrants, with a home win over UC Irvine, which is the only one not to come in MWC play. New Mexico has also been swept by UNLV and is saddled with a Q4 home loss to Air Force. A poor non-conference strength of schedule is also a potential issue and even though they are 9-6 in road/neutral games, eight of those victories fall in Q3 or Q4. The Lobos have a chance for revenge against Air Force, setting up a date with Boise State in the quarterfinals.

Villanova: The Wildcats closed the season with a pair of losses, dropping their overall record to 17-14. They have nine wins in the top two quadrants, including marquee wins over North Carolina and Texas Tech on neutral floors and on the road at Creighton. But three Q3 losses have left Villanova at 12-14 in non-Q4 contests. Wednesday’s game against DePaul provides a chance to pad the win total, but more importantly, it would set up a date with Marquette in a game that could move the needle.

Iowa: There’s a bit of a drop-off between the first three teams out and the Hawkeyes. They could not knock off Illinois in the season finale, leaving them at 3-8 in Q1, with seven of those losses falling in Q1A. Iowa does have five Q2 victories and has beaten Michigan State and Northwestern on the road. A Q3 loss to Michigan certainly doesn’t help, so Iowa will need to beat Ohio State on Thursday so the Hawkeyes can get another crack at Illinois.

The other teams considered for the first four out were Pittsburgh and Providence.

Conference Breakdown:

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

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

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

Big East (5): Connecticut, Creighton, Marquette, St. John’s, Seton Hall

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

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

American (2): Florida Atlantic, South Florida

Atlantic 10 (2): Dayton, Richmond

Missouri Valley: Drake*, Indiana State

Pac-12 (2): Arizona, Washington State

West Coast (2): Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s*

America East: Vermont

Atlantic Sun: Stetson*

Big Sky: Montana

Big South: Longwood*

Big West: UC Irvine

Coastal: Charleston*

Conference USA: Sam Houston

Horizon: Oakland*

Ivy: Princeton

MAAC: Quinnipiac

MAC: Toledo

MEAC: Norfolk State

Northeast: Wagner*

Ohio Valley: Morehead State*

Patriot: Colgate

Southern: Samford*

Southland: McNeese State

SWAC: Grambling

Summit: South Dakota State*

Sun Belt: James Madison*

WAC: Grand Canyon

* – Automatic Bid

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