Busting Brackets

Bracketology 2024: North Carolina earns a No. 1 seed in latest field of 68 projection

Jan 13, 2024; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA;  North Carolina Tar Heels bench including forward
Jan 13, 2024; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels bench including forward / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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West Region (Los Angeles)

1.) Kansas vs. 16.) Western Illinois

8.) St. John's vs. 9.) Mississippi

5.) Colorado State vs. 12.) Drake

4.) Memphis vs. 13.) UC-Irvine

6.) Creighton vs. 11.) Princeton

3.) Wisconsin vs. 14.) Eastern Washington

7.) Utah State vs. 10.) Wake Forest

2.) Houston vs. 15.) Saint Peter's

The final No. 1 seed comes out west and it is the Kansas Jayhawks. The 15-2 Jayhawks find themselves heading into Saturday in a four-way tie for the top spot in the Big 12 at 3-1. The Jayhawks are 6-2 in quads 1 and 2, with both losses, losing to Marquette in Maui and on the road at UCF are both quad 1 losses. Their quad 1 wins are quite impressive which includes a home win over fellow No. 1 seed UConn. I expect that as long as the Jayhawks keep winning they will climb in the seed list as their NET wins average of 133 improves.

The West region could be the region in which the Mountain West Conference makes the most noise. The Colorado State Rams are the No. 5 seed and league-mate Utah State is the No. 7 seed. The Rams began the year 13-1 but then went 0-2 on a road trip to the aforementioned Utah State and Boise State. Despite the losses, they have a top-25 NET ranking, a strength of schedule of 47th, and a metric average of 36. The Utah State Aggies are 16-2 and are in a tie with San Diego State atop the conference at 4-1. They are 6-2 in the first two quads and their metric average is slightly better than the Rams at 30.25. Before losing to New Mexico, the Aggies hadn’t lost since their second game of the year and won 15 straight in between. One of the key storylines in the West region could very well come from the Mountain West Conference.

The No. 2 seed Houston can be as dangerous as any team in the country on both ends of the floor. The 15-2 Cougars hadn’t lost all year until they hit the road for the first time as members of the Big 12. They suffered back-to-back losses to Iowa State and TCU by a combined five points. Despite the losses, they are still the No. 1 team in the NET and both predictive metrics. As of Friday evening, the Cougars are the No. 1 defensive team on KenPom and 12th in offensive efficiency. One thing keeping Houston from the top seed line for me is the eight Quad 4 wins, but given the Big 12 schedule, a few more wins, and a slip-up from a current No. 1 seed the Cougars could find themselves back on the top seed line.