Busting Brackets

Bracketology 2024: Purdue and Houston lead new projected field of 68 into the New Year

The Purdue Boilermakers bench reacts to a play during the NCAA men   s basketball game against the
The Purdue Boilermakers bench reacts to a play during the NCAA men s basketball game against the / Alex Martin/Journal and Courier / USA
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South Region (Dallas)

1.) Houston vs. 16.) Merrimack/Southern

8.) Miami vs. 9.) James Madison

5.) Gonzaga vs. 12.) Princeton

4.) Wisconsin vs. 13.) McNeese State

6.) Villanova vs. 11.) Florida/Kansas State

3.) FAU vs.14.) Kent State

7.) Ohio State vs. 10.)Colorado

2.) Tennessee vs. 15.) Morehead State

Next up is the South region where a team from Texas resides on the top line and hopes to ride a home court-like advantage all the way to Dallas. The Houston Cougars are one of the three remaining unbeaten teams in college basketball and as has been the case the last few seasons are a metric darling. Not only are the Cougars the top team in the NET rankings, but they are also the No. 1 team in both predictive metrics while being in the top five in the results-based ones.

If there is one knock on the Cougars from a resume standpoint so far, it would be that their schedule hasn’t been as strong as some others, with a 123rd rank in strength of schedule. They do have four quad 1 wins, but all of their remaining wins are of either the quad 3 or 4 variety. If it wasn’t for that the Cougars would be challenging for the No. 1 overall seed right now.

If there is a Cinderella region in the field it would be in the South. This region contains one of the other undefeated teams, James Madison as the No. 9 seed, a Princeton team that is no stranger to upsets as the No. 12 seed, an under-the-radar Gonzaga team as the No. 5 seed, and the No. 3 seed is an FAU that is proving every time they hit the floor that last year’s Final Four run was no fluke. It is also going to be tough to score points in this region with Houston, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Princeton all have a reputation of being stingy on the defensive end.

The team I want to highlight in this region is the No. 10 seed the Colorado Buffaloes. Tad Boyle’s team is now 10-2 after beginning Pac-12 play with a win against Washington on Friday. In a region that has a lot of defensive teams, Colorado can score the basketball, averaging 85 per game. KJ Simpson and Tristan da Silva lead the way for the Buffs combining for 35.7 points, 10.3 rebounds, 7.6 assists, and 3.3 steals per game. The Buffaloes can be a dangerous team, as evidenced by the 27-point drubbing they put on Miami earlier in the year.