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Bracketology 2024: Milk Carton Weekend

There are several prominent—even ranked teams—missing from the current bracket. That could change after this weekend, which will offer some of these squads opportunities to grab needed marquee wins.

A throwback look at the top 16 teams in the bracket projection for Friday, January 19, 2024.
Graphic by Chris Dobbertean using logos primarily from SportsLogos.net

Text-Only Bracket for Screen Readers and Seed List

Key:

  • Conference logos indicate auto bid holders.
  • Colors next to seed numbers represent movement relative to Tuesday’s bracket: gold (new entrant), green (up 1+ seed line), red (down 1+ seed line)

Graphics by Chris Dobbertean using logos from either SportsLogos.net, Wikimedia Commons, or the institutions’ websites.

Ins and Outs (5)

In: Cincinnati, High Point (Big South), North Texas (American), San Francisco (WCC), South Dakota State (Summit)

Out: Butler, Miami (Fla.), Omaha (Summit), Wake Forest, Winthrop (Big South)

Lowest-ranked NET at-large: Northwestern (74)

Lowest-ranked KenPom at-large: South Carolina (73)

Highest-ranked NET exclusion: Indiana State (24)

Highest-ranked KenPom exclusion: Gonzaga (21)

What To Watch This Weekend

All times are p.m. Eastern unless noted. Note that weather may lead to schedule changes.

Friday

Indiana at Wisconsin and UNLV at Colorado State, 8:30 (FS1)

At this point in the season, it’s easier to list out the teams in the multi-bid conferences who do not have an at-large chance with a little less than two months left in the season. The Hoosiers and Runnin’ Rebels are among those on the edge of the hunt, but they both could use road wins to boost their floundering chances.

Saturday

Marquette at St. John’s, 12 (Fox)
Baylor at Texas, 12 (ESPN)
Miami at Syracuse, 12 (ESPN2)
Creighton at Seton Hall, 12 (FS1)
Virginia Tech at NC State, 12 (CW)
Louisville at Wake Forest, 12 (ESPNU)
Rhode Island at Dayton, 1 (USA)
San Diego State at Boise State, 1 (CBS)
South Carolina at Arkansas, 1 (SECN)
Oklahoma at Cincinnati, 1 (ESPN+ ($))

Texas, last seen blowing a 16-point lead to Big 12 newcomer UCF at home, is one of those teams you are probably wondering about. Well, the Longhorns currently rank 65th in the NET with a 2-4 record in Quad 1 and 2 games. Their lone Quad 1 win came at bracket newcomer Cincinnati. Texas also has a Quad 3 loss to West Virginia. So, yes, Rodney Terry’s club needs wins—starting on Saturday morning at home against Baylor.

Miami-Syracuse and Virginia Tech-NC State are both ACC bubble showdowns, particularly after the Hurricanes dropped out following Wednesday’s home loss to resurgent Florida State and the Hokies lost ground after falling to Virginia in Blacksburg in the same window. Wake Forest cannot afford picking up a bad home loss to Louisville following Tuesday’s setback in Raleigh.

USC at Arizona State, 2 (Fox)
Alabama at Tennessee, 2 (ESPN2)
Purdue at Iowa, 2 (FS1)
Iowa State at TCU, 2 (ESPNU)
UCF at Houston, 2 (ESPN+ ($))
Princeton at Columbia, 2 (ESPN+ ($))
North Carolina at Boston College, 2:15 (CW)
Northwestern at Nebraska, 2:15 (BTN)
Tulsa at SMU, 3 (ESPN+ ($))

Alabama’s trip to Knoxville is the marquee game of the mid-afternoon window—and arguably the entire weekend. Keep an eye on UCF’s trip to Houston though. The Cougars are fresh off hammering ranked (but not in the field) Texas Tech, while the Knights now own conference wins over Kansas and Texas. Elsewhere, Northwestern-Nebraska is a bubble showdown in a Big Ten that’s not as strong top-to-bottom as it has been in recent seasons. Iowa State-TCU is another matchup featuring teams who you would think would be seeded higher based on what you’ve heard so far this season. Both teams need the quality wins to back that talk up, however.

Vanderbilt at Mississippi State, 3:30 (SECN)
UCLA at Arizona, 4 (ESPN2)
DePaul at Butler, 4 (FS1)
Texas A&M at LSU, 4 (ESPNU)
Clemson at Florida State, 4 (ACCN)
New Mexico at Air Force, 4 (CBSSN)
Kansas at West Virginia, 4 (ESPN+ ($))
North Texas at Charlotte, 4 (ESPN+ ($))
Washington State at California, 5 (Pac-12 Networks)

Incredibly, the American is a three-bid league at the moment, as North Texas slid into the auto bid slot after Memphis’ epic home collapse against South Florida on Thursday night. But will the Mean Green stick around after they visit resurgent Charlotte? In the ACC, Clemson-FSU in Tallahassee has added importance now that the Seminoles seem to be out of the funk of 2023. Arizona (at home) and Kansas (on the road) are a pair of current No. 1 seeds on upset alert this weekend.

BYU at Texas Tech, 6 (ESPN2)
Georgia at Kentucky, 6 (SECN)
Virginia at Georgia Tech, 6 (ACCN)
Charleston at UNCW, 6 (CBSSN)
Mercer at Samford, 6 (ESPN+ ($))
Marshall at James Madison, 6 (ESPN+ ($))
Oregon State at Colorado, 7 (Pac-12 Networks)
Sam Houston at Liberty, 7 (ESPN+ ($))
Oklahoma State at Kansas State, 7 (ESPN+ ($))

While Texas Tech entered this week ranked, the Red Raiders were absent from Tuesday’s bracket. Getting their doors blown off in Houston didn’t change anything, but a home win over BYU would be a second Q1 win (the first came at Texas) which would put them back on track. Colorado, Georgia, Kansas State, and Virginia are all in action in the early evening window—all needing wins to keep them in the frame.

Nevada at Wyoming, 7:30 (MWN)
UConn at Villanova, 8 (FS1)
Florida at Missouri, 8 (ESPNU)
Pittsburgh at Duke, 8 (ACCN)

With Donovan Clingan back, UConn looks like a decent bet to repeat as champs, but Villanova will pose a challenge to the Huskies, particularly since they aren’t a Big 5 rival. Florida is yet another team that needs to start getting positive results—however, even a win at Missouri wouldn’t be enough to get the Gators into Tuesday’s field.

Ole Miss at Auburn, 8:30 (SECN)
Washington at Stanford, 9 (Pac-12 Networks)
Fresno State at Utah State, 9 (MWN)
Saint Mary’s at San Francisco, 10 (CBSSN)
Gonzaga at San Diego, 10 (KHQ/Root Sports/ESPN+ ($))
Grand Canyon at Seattle U, 10 (ESPN+ ($))

Gonzaga picked up its first true road win of 2023-24 in Malibu on Thursday night, and the Bulldogs will have the chance to double that total in San Diego tonight. However, the real attraction in the WCC on Saturday will be in San Francisco, where the host Dons welcome Saint Mary’s in a matchup of the remaining unbeatens in the league.

Sunday

Michigan State at Maryland, 12 (CBS)
Memphis at Tulane, 1 (ESPN2)
Rutgers at Illinois, 1 (BTN)

Oregon at Utah, 3 (ESPN)
Florida Atlantic at UTSA, 3 (ESPN+ ($))
Indiana State at Murray State, 5 (ESPN2/ESPN+ ($))

Tulane almost knocked off Florida Atlantic on January 11th. Ten days later, the Green Wave will get another shot at making a statement when Memphis visits. In the Big Ten, both Michigan State and Illinois will take on teams trying to climb back into the bubble picture. Later, Pac-12 leader Oregon may see its run end after visiting Salt Lake City. FAU will yet again have a giant target on its back as the Owls visit the Alamo City. Finally, Indiana State, 24th in the NET but 0-3 in Quad 1 games, needs to keep winning in the Missouri Valley to have any chance at an at-large. Murray State is only a Quad 3 win opportunity for the Trees.

Monday

Wake Forest at North Carolina, 7 (ESPN)
McNeese at A&M-Corpus Christi, 7 (ESPNU)
Cincinnati at Kansas, 9 (ESPN)
Texas Southern at Jackson State, 9 (ESPNU/ESPN+ ($))

While there are “2024 leader vs. 2023 auto bid winner” showdowns in the SWAC and Southland, Wake and Cincinnati’s respective attempts at securing marquee road wins are the highlights of the night.

Expect lots of shuffling in Tuesday’s projection after this loaded, intriguing weekend slate.