Busting Brackets

NCAA Basketball: Ranking the 16 matchups for 2024 ACC/SEC Challenge

Alabama v North Carolina
Alabama v North Carolina / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages
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16. Cal at Missouri

When you finish winless in your conference a season ago, it’s going to be hard to garner interest early on in the following season. That’s the case for the Tigers, who had a big letdown in Coach Dennis Gates’ second year after making the NCAA Tournament the season before. But to their credit, they had a fairly solid offseason, landing key transfers such as Mark Mitchell (Duke) and 20 ppg scoring guard from Northern Kentucky, Marques Warrick.

Cal also has a completely new roster in its first year in the ACC, featuring transfers such as Andrej Stojakovic (Stanford), Mady Sissoko (Michigan State), and Joshua Ola-Joseph (Minnesota). There’s a possibility that the Bears could have a successful opening year in its new league and both teams could be better than expected. But right now, it’s the game with the fewest appealing storylines.

15. Florida State at LSU

After an offseason of bad news, Florida State was able to bring back its star player from last season in Jamir Watkins, who had originally entered the draft/portal. He’s clearly the best player again but on a roster that may actually be worse than last year’s group who finished towards the bottom of the ACC.

LSU quietly finished .500 in the SEC but still wasn’t in postseason contention, potentially putting Coach Matt McMahon on the hot seat if things don’t improve. The new guard duo of Cam Carter and Jordan Sears to pair with Jalen Cook could be good enough for them to take another step but they can’t afford to lose to FSU at home in the challenge.