Busting Brackets

Bracketology 2024: Bubble Watch Updates of key teams in late February

Feb 24, 2024; Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA;  Wake Forest Demon Deacons forward Efton Reid III
Feb 24, 2024; Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA; Wake Forest Demon Deacons forward Efton Reid III / Cory Knowlton-USA TODAY Sports
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Indiana State (23-5) (NET: 33)
1-3 (Q1), 4-1 (Q2), 8-0 (Q3), 10-1 (Q4)

Indiana State’s NET was in the teens back before Christmas, when they were riding the high of a true road win at Bradley. Unfortunately, that performance against the Braves remains their only Quad 1 win. All of their Quad 2 victories have come since New Year’s in MVC play.

There wasn’t much to complaint about for the Sycamores before a disastrous mid-February week where they lost a Quad 4 home game to Illinois State before dropping a Quad 2 game at Southern Illinois. They had been perfect against non-Quad 1 foes before that, but instead burned quite a hole in their resume.

It’s a dire position for the Sycamores but there’s still a road to the Big Dance even without conference tournament success. They bounced back with big wins over Valparaiso and UIC this past week and will need to repeat that feat against Evansville and Murray State. We’ll see how they play at the MVC Tournament and if a putrid nonconference schedule will doom the Sycamores.

Iowa (16-12) (NET: 60)
2-8 (Q1), 5-3 (Q2), 3-1 (Q3), 6-0 (Q4)

A couple weeks ago there was not even a reason to mention Iowa being on the bubble. Now, they’ve picked up their first two Quad 1 wins of the season, knocking off Wisconsin and then Michigan State on the road in back-to-back performances. They elevate a resume that previously was leaning on a ton of Quad 2 wins, including over bubble teams like Seton Hall and Nebraska.

An early December home loss to Michigan has really stung and now sits as a Quad 3 loss. The Hawkeyes also faltered at Indiana in late January and have been swept by a Maryland team that’s not really on the bubble either. There have been plenty of missed opportunities here for a team that’s taken a slight step back this season.

The Hawkeyes had a chance for a third big win but faltered in the second half in a loss to Illinois this past weekend. If Iowa is going to actually make their way into the NCAA Tournament, they might need to win the rematch against the Fighting Illini next week. Beating Penn State and Northwestern before that would certainly help too.