Busting Brackets

Bracketology 2024: Bubble Watch of key teams in early February

Notre Dame v Virginia
Notre Dame v Virginia / Ryan M. Kelly/GettyImages
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Mississippi State (14-8) (NET: 44)
3-6 (Q1), 2-1 (Q2), 4-0 (Q3), 5-1 (Q4)

Three Quad 1 wins are currency for the Bulldogs, who beat Washington State at the Hall of Fame Tip-off back in November before impressive home wins over Tennessee and Auburn more recently. They also beat Northwestern at that tournament and were mostly solid in nonconference play.

We say mostly because a home loss to Southern remains a Quad 4 loss and a terrible anchor. Their Quad 2 loss was at Georgia Tech, so it isn’t horrific, but Mississippi State hasn’t exactly been taking advantage of opportunities in conference play, including a 32-point loss at Alabama this past weekend.

This team has won just three of their last 9 games, with two of those wins being those Quad 1 games against the SEC’s top teams. Their NET figure is trending in the wrong direction, but the road ahead is a bit easier. More Quad 1 chances come later on, but the Bulldogs have a very winnable stretch these next three weeks.

Nebraska (16-7) (NET: 52)
3-4 (Q1), 3-3 (Q2), 3-0 (Q3), 7-0 (Q4)

There wasn’t a lot of excitement during nonconference play for the Cornhuskers, but this team has taken advantage of their chances at home in the Big Ten. Their three Quad 1 victories have come in this manner, with wins over Michigan State, Purdue (by 16 points), and Wisconsin.

Three Quad 2 losses isn’t terrible, as Nebraska dropped road games at Minnesota, Rutgers, and Maryland for those results. In fact, the Cornhuskers have lost every road game in Big Ten play and also played pretty badly in a 29-point home loss to Creighton back in early December.

If Nebraska wants to prove itself worthy of inclusion, they’ll need to figure out how to win on the road. They came really close to another massive upset at Illinois on Sunday, but have to finish one of these games. There are a lot of winnable games in the last month of the season, though games against Michigan, Indiana, or Ohio State won’t push the needle very much.