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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Cutline chatter

Last four in

There is a lot of season left to play but in this edition of the field, the crowd in Dayton will see teams from the ACC, Big 12, SEC, and Big Ten battling to continue in the tournament. 11-seeds in the Midwest region will see Michigan State taking on Virginia Tech, with the winner getting to play No. 6 seed Ole Miss. For Michigan State, while playing a gauntlet schedule is commendable, you still have to take advantage of those opportunities, and thus far they have not, with a 1-5 quad 1 record. The other First Four matchup could be billed as the Keyontae Johnson Invitational with Florida battling Kansas State with the winner getting No. 6 Villanova in the South region.

First four out

For me, the quartet that is just on the outside looking in are two Big East teams, Butler and St. John’s, joined by TCU and Washington. The most impressive of this group to me is the 10-3 Butler Bulldogs who have lost just once since back-to-back losses to Michigan State and FAU just before Thanksgiving. They have a big opportunity to ring in the new year on Tuesday when they hit the road to take on St. John’s.

Next four out

The next four out of the field that have a little work to do, are a couple of teams from the Big 12, an ACC team, and a team from the SEC. The Muss Buss has been derailed a bit since losing to UNC-Greensboro, Arkansas is currently 9-4 after their win against UNC-Wilmington on Saturday. First-year head coach Damon Stoudamire has his Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets playing well at 8-4. Yes, that might not seem all that impressive but they were picked to finish 13th in the conference and have non-conference wins over Mississippi State, Duke and Penn State.

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With non-conference play over, the path to a bid may become more difficult for Texas Tech and Cincinnati compared to other teams on the seed list because of how difficult the Big 12 is. The good news is, because of the level of difficulty it won’t take many wins for them to flip the script and get into the at-large conversation.