Mar. Abr 23rd, 2024


The biggest negative from the 2024 NCAA men’s basketball bracket is something the selection committee could not control. It simply ran out of spots before all the worthy teams could be included this year.

Some will blame the bid thieves: NC State, Oregon, New Mexico, Duquesne and Florida Atlantic (the last one by losing). Others will use this year’s self-destructing bubble to argue for a larger field. Count me in for very modest, very careful expansion, if that ever comes to pass.

But my biggest takeaways generally apply on a team-by-team level. For those feeling snubbed, let me offer a few suggestions.

  • Oklahoma: Don’t go 4-12 in Quadrant 1 — or 2-12 against Quadrant 1 tournament teams.

  • Seton Hall: Don’t lose in the first round of the conference tournament with a NET in the 60s.

  • Indiana State: Try to be a bubble team in a year without five bid stealers. I feel worst for you.

  • Pittsburgh: The next bubble team to make it with a No. 343 nonconference schedule will be the first.

  • St. John’s: Don’t put the «Ziggy» on Villanova. The Wildcats’ collapse really hurt you.

It’s only sad to a degree that these teams missed out. All are capable of winning games in this year’s field, maybe even reaching the second weekend. But the same could be said for at least NC State, Oregon and New Mexico. The most important rule of Bracketology never changes: The best way for any bubble team to get in is to not be a bubble team.

That said, I was pleasantly surprised — not a lot, but not a little — by a few of the committee’s decisions:

  • The Mountain West was appropriately downgraded (in terms of seeding) for the vast majority of its Quadrant 1 wins coming in conference play. There is clearly an understanding that individual NET numbers were a bit inflated in an otherwise excellent conference.

  • The Atlantic 10 got very good seeds for both its at-large team (7-seed Dayton) and its automatic qualifier (11-seed Duquesne). For the league’s seventh-place finisher to get an 11-seed in the Big Dance tells me the league is well on its way to more bids in the future.

On the other side, I did grimace a bit over the following:

  • Florida Atlantic was seeded at No. 8 on reputation, not achievement. The Owls lost to Temple, folks, and those are the wrong Owls this season. FAU had too many losses for a seed this good.

  • Boise State should have been in FAU’s spot. The committee should take a mulligan and make a straight swap on that one. My Mountain West comments above do not apply to Boise State, which proved itself well above First Four caliber both home and away.

  • I can’t help but wonder if BYU was dropped a seed line to accommodate its no-Sunday rule.

  • I also wonder if the ACC had more powerful in-room lobbying than the Big East. The latter had three legitimate bubble teams to the ACC’s one, yet only Virginia broke through.

Seeded too high: FAU, Michigan State

Seeded too low: Boise State, South Carolina, Nevada

Finally, I started feeling very nervous around 5 p.m. ET that my seemingly annual miss was going to be Oklahoma. But even with that, my bracket wouldn’t have been 68-for-68. Virginia would not have been my «having second thoughts» choice to replace the Sooners.

Thankfully, come Thursday afternoon — or maybe even Tuesday night — none of this will matter. And neither will I. See you next season!


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