Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Bracketology: Final 2024 NCAA Tournament bracket projection, bubble teams and field of 68

Happy Selection Sunday! Some teams won’t be happy, however, after four bids were stolen in this year’s tournament. The Pac-12, ACC, A-10 and American all have at-large teams and a champion that would not have made the NCAA Tournament any other way.  Sometimes, we’ll go five years without four bid-stealers in total.

One odd thing about this bracket is that Dayton is in the projected First Four, which is played at Dayton. The Flyers out of the A-10 are the only team that can be bracketed to play in its home floor. Another impact of having four bid-stealers: this would be the first time the First Four features 10-seeds.

You have to feel for Indiana State, which may set the record for the highest NET ranking to be left out of the tournament. The Sycamores are 29th in the NET this morning and good enough to be in the tournament, but they’re not good enough to overcome four bid-stealers.

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If Indiana State does not set that record, it could be Colorado. The Buffaloes are 25th in today’s NET ranking and my first team out of the field. St. John’s is 32nd in the NET and my last team in the bracket. Either team would break the record for the highest-rated major-conference team to be left out. NC State was 33rd in 2019, the first season of the NET rankings.

I struggle with choosing between the two because they are so different. St. John’s has played eight games against teams ranked in the top 25 of the NET but has only a home win over Creighton to show for it. Colorado has only played two … and was blown out by Arizona twice.

The Red Storm’s strength of schedule is ranked 33rd; Colorado’s is 81st.

That win over Creighton is St. John’s only one over a team in the field. Colorado beat Washington State twice in three games, and now that Oregon is in the tournament, the Buffaloes can claim two wins in three tries against the Ducks as well.

Are you a fan of the metrics? KenPom and BPI prefer St. John’s, while SOR (and especially KPI) favor Colorado. The NET also favors the Buffaloes, but it is not used for the purpose of comparing teams. It is designed to put teams into quadrants on team sheets.

It’s a toss-up, but I decided to go with the tried and true. The committee has generally preferred teams that test themselves, even if they do not always succeed, at least to a point. Teams below .500 against the top three quadrants do not do well. So, St. John’s is a strength of schedule pick. We will see how the committee feels about it tonight.

Check out Palm’s latest bracket, Bubble Watch and full field of 68 at the Bracketology hub.

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