Busting Brackets

NCAA Basketball: Auburn/Duke, UNC/Alabama highlight 10 key storylines for the 2024 ACC-SEC Challenge

Alabama v North Carolina
Alabama v North Carolina / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages
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Final Four Cinderella gets a stubborn test 

After guiding NC State on an improbable run through the ACC Tournament and ultimately to the Final Four, Kevin Keatts’ squad will face a stubborn test against a new-look Texas Longhorns squad. Texas arguably had one of the more turbulent, up-and-down offseasons in college basketball. The Longhorns lost Dillion Mitchell and Tyrese Hunter to the transfer portal. They lost Max Abmas and Dylan Disu to graduation. Those were their top-four scorers. 

Nevertheless, Rodney Terry was able to mitigate those losses, landing a pair of Indiana State transfers, Jayson Kent and Julian Larry, followed by two elite scorers in Jordan Pope (Oregon State) and Tramon Mark (Arkansas). Returning Kadin Shedrick and Chendall Weaver gives Rodney Terry a bit of roster continuity -- which will only stiffen the test against an NC State squad that hopes to continue its postseason momentum from last season.

First-year head coaches take the road

Life isn’t fair for first-year head coaches, even if you are named John Calipari or the head coach at the University of Kentucky. Arkansas’ John Calipari will travel to Miami (FL) in what should be a high-quality game as the Hurricanes look to rebound from last season’s struggles. Interesting tidbit: John Calipari faced off against Miami (FL) last season, where Kentucky erupted in a 95-73 victory in Lexington. 

In addition to Calipari, Kentucky head coach Mark Pope will take his new-look Wildcats to Clemson and first-year Commodore head coach Mark Byington will take his team to Virginia Tech. It’s never easy winning on the road -- especially with a new coach and a new roster.