2024 NCAA Tournament Bracket Watch: Race for the final No. 1, and a 2-bid Valley – The Athletic

By Brian BennettMar 11, 2024Supported By

(Editor’s note: This is part of the Bracket Central Series, an inside look at the run-up to the men’s and women’s NCAA Tournaments, along with analysis and picks during the tournaments.)

Just 72 hours ago in this space, we posited that Tennessee had taken over the final No. 1 seed from Arizona. Then on Saturday, the Volunteers lost at home to Kentucky. Arizona lost at USC. And North Carolina beat Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium. So now what?

While it’s not Blind Resume Challenge time, take a look at these three with the names gone and decide which one deserves the No. 4 overall seed (numbers as of Sunday night).

Final No. 1 seed — Blind resumes

Team A Team B Team C
NET 4 5 7
KenPom 6 5 8
BPI 4 5 11
SOR 11 5 4
KPI 6 3 5
Road 7-4 8-3 8-2
Q1 8-3 7-6 7-4
Q2 6-3 6-1 6-2
Noncon SOS 13 16 23

That is … so close. Team A is Arizona, Team B is Tennessee and Team C is UNC. Missing from the chart is Arizona’s Quad 3 loss at Oregon State — the other two contenders don’t have a setback outside the first two quads. Throw in the Wildcats’ losses to Stanford and USC, and that convinces us that it’s going to be the Volunteers or Tar Heels on the top line. But which one?

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It’s so tight that North Carolina’s nonconference home win over Tennessee might serve as the de facto tiebreaker. For now, we’re going to stick with the Vols, whom we feel have the better wins, better resume average and played in a tougher conference. But this could very well come down to how both teams play in their conference tournaments this week.

Speaking of conference tournaments, congrats to Morehead State, Longwood, Drake and Stetson for capturing the first four official spots in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. (Teams that have clinched auto bids are signified in green on our seed list below). Of those, Drake was of course the most notable, as we had the Bulldogs as our final at-large team the past two weeks. Indiana State will now wait it out until Selection Sunday, but we believe the Sycamores, who entered Sunday No. 26 in the NET and 34th in Strength of Record, should still get an invite — as long as there are not too many bid thieves. They’ll need lots of terry cloth in Terre Haute for all the sweating these next six days. Please, selection committee: do not rob America of getting to see Robbie Avila (aka “Larry Blurred,” aka “Cream Abdul-Jabbar”) during March Madness.

Our last team in: Texas A&M. The Aggies had played their way out of the field and now may be back. They’re just 18-13 overall but have five Quad 1 wins, are 11-9 in the first two quads and .500 on the road with a top-20 schedule, per the NET. Plus wins over Iowa State, Tennessee and Kentucky. Is that enough? No idea! There’s not much separating bubble teams like A&M, Villanova, Wake Forest, New Mexico, Colorado and others right now. It likely will all come down to how those teams play in their conference tournaments. Which is what makes this week so much fun.

GO DEEPER

Championship week conference tournament guide, Vol. 2: The Power 6 takes center stage

Bracket Watch will appear daily between now and Sunday, with a short update before the 6 p.m. ET selection show if warranted.

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

First Four Out Next Four Out Last Four In Last Four Byes
Villanova Providence Virginia Florida Atlantic
New Mexico Pitt St. John’s Seton Hall
Colorado Kansas State Indiana State Michigan State
Wake Forest Iowa Texas A&M TCU

Multi-bid leagues

League Bids
Big 12 9
SEC 8
Big Ten 6
Big East 5
Mountain West 5
ACC 4
Pac-12 2
A10 2
AAC 2
Missouri Valley 2
WCC 2

Seed list

1 Purdue AQ
2 Houston AQ
3 UConn AQ
4 Tennessee AQ
5 North Carolina AQ
6 Arizona AQ
7 Baylor
8 Iowa State
9 Marquette
10 Creighton
11 Kansas
12 Duke
13 Kentucky
14 Illinois
15 BYU
16 Alabama
17 Auburn
18 South Carolina
19 Utah State AQ
20 Clemson
21 Florida
22 San Diego State
23 Washington State
24 Saint Mary’s AQ
25 Gonzaga
26 Dayton
27 Boise State
28 Texas
29 Nevada
30 Texas Tech
31 Wisconsin
32 Northwestern
33 Nebraska
34 Colorado State
35 Florida Atlantic
36 Oklahoma
37 Mississippi State
38 Seton Hall
39 Michigan State
40 Drake AQ
41 TCU
42 Virginia
43 St. John’s
44 Indiana State
45 Texas A&M
46 Richmond AQ
47 South Florida AQ
48 James Madison AQ
49 Grand Canyon AQ
50 McNeese Sate AQ
51 Samford AQ
52 UC Irvine AQ
53 Princeton AQ
54 Toledo AQ
55 Vermont AQ
56 Charleston AQ
57 Oakland AQ
58 Morehead State AQ
59 Colgate AQ
60 Sam Houston State AQ
61 Montana AQ
62 Longwood AQ
63 Quinnipiac AQ
64 South Dakota State AQ
65 Stetson AQ
66 Merrimack AQ
67 Norfolk State AQ
68 Grambling AQ

The Bracket Central series is part of a partnership with E*TRADE.

The Athletic maintains full editorial independence. Partners have no control over or input into the reporting or editing process and do not review stories before publication.

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Brian Bennett is a senior editor for The Athletic covering college basketball. He previously wrote about college sports for ESPN.com for nine years and The (Louisville) Courier-Journal for nine years prior to that. Follow Brian on Twitter @GBrianBennett

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