Busting Brackets

Bracketology 2024: Akron, Drake, and Gonzaga highlight first-place battles this weekend

Akron Zips head coach John Groce has a moment with forward Enrique Freeman during the second half of
Akron Zips head coach John Groce has a moment with forward Enrique Freeman during the second half of / Jeff Lange / USA TODAY NETWORK
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Welcome to the weekend watchlist. Each week I will take a look at five games or storylines that should be on everyone's radar for the upcoming weekend. Sometimes these games will be some of the most high-profile ones but sometimes they will be some games that have a big impact on a team's season as they look toward March. Every Selection Sunday, we as fans and members of the media alike often have immediate questions when it comes to the final bracket. Such as, why is Team X seeded above Team Y? Or why did Team A get sent to a particular region over Team B?

Over the last few seasons college basketball has put more of an emphasis on having some marquee matchups early in the year to try and generate more interest amid college football season. It has worked two-fold for the sport, it has gotten the sport more early exposure without having to wait until January for more eyes to turn towards them. It also has begun to debunk the myth that the regular season in college basketball is meaningless, especially with more high-profile matchups early in the year that are looked at in March as games that can highly impact seeding.

Games from the first tip in early November until the last conference tournament champion is crowned, every game has ramifications in one way or another when it comes to a team’s chances to play in March. That is why, every week the weekend watchlist will look at the most important games from a bracketology standpoint and how they will impact the teams playing.

Conference tournaments are about a month away so it’s time to look at some of those tournaments. Positioning and seeding in those tournaments kicks into high gear at this point in the year. With that in mind, this week’s watchlist focuses on five first-place battles across the landscape that could decide the No. 1 seed when these tournaments kick-off.