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Bracketology 2024: A Late Thursday Surprise Shakes Up The Top Line

You probably woke up this morning to three shocking piece of sports news—Novak Djokovic falling in the Australian Open semifinals, Jürgen Klopp announcing he’s leaving Liverpool at the end of the Premier League season, and—most importantly for our purposes—Arizona losing at Oregon State. As you can see from the lead graphic, we now have a new No. 1 seed—Tennessee—thanks to that final item.

A throwback look at the top 16 seeds in the bracket projection for Friday, January 26, 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.

Much like Kansas losing at West Virginia (157th in the NET at the moment), Arizona’s 83-80 loss at 166th-ranked Oregon State might serve as a barrier to the Wildcats returning to the No. 1 seed line. Of course, winning the Big 12 and Pac-12 regular season and tournament titles could open the door back up for both, but that’s a long way off. Given the strength of its future conference, Arizona might have the easier path to a conference double—but considering Thursday’s loss in Corvallis, there are no guarantees for Tommy Lloyd’s team.

24 single-bid conferences

Ins and Outs (6)

In: Green Bay (Horizon), Indiana State (MVC), Nevada, Oregon (Pac-12), Vermont (AE), Washington State

Out: Drake (MVC), Kansas State, Oakland (Horizon), TCU, UMass Lowell (AE), Virginia

On Tuesday, the Big 12 had 10 teams in the field. That total has dropped to eight today—Kansas State was squeezed out by new Pac-12 leader Oregon, while another comparison of TCU’s profile against others on the bubble saw the Horned Frogs also drop out. While Jamie Dixon’s team is 14-5 and 38th in the NET, it’s only 2-5 against Quads 1 and 2 with a dire non-conference strength of schedule—12 wins against Quads 3 and 4 with eight victories against the lowest grouping.

South Carolina earned a little breathing room by demolishing Kentucky on Wednesday. While the Gamecocks are also 8-0 against Quad 4—like TCU—they’re now 6-2 against Quads 1 and 2. Similarly, Texas, 9-0 against Quad 4, has improved its standing by grabbing two Q1 wins over the past week (Baylor at home and at Oklahoma). The Longhorns are 4-4 against Q1 and Q2, but 3-2 in Quad 1 games with two of those victories coming away from Austin (over the Sooners and Cincinnati).

Mississippi State’s loss at Florida dropped the Bulldogs into the First Four, while the Gators still need a Quad 1 win to earn real consideration.

Providence’s win at Seton Hall was its first over a non-DePaul opponent since before Christmas. The Friars are now 3-3 in Quad 1 games and are back on the board for the first time since losing Bryce Hopkins for the season with an ACL tear.

Lowest-ranked NET at-large: Seton Hall (70)

Lowest-ranked KenPom at-large: Seton Hall (61)

Highest-ranked NET exclusion: Gonzaga (27)

Highest-ranked KenPom exclusion: Gonzaga (19)

The Zags took down San Francisco last night, 77-72, bumping their record against Quads 1 and 2 to 3-5. However, the Bulldogs are still without a Quad 1 win (0-2). Opportunities to rectify that won’t come until the first two Saturdays in February, when Mark Few’s club hosts WCC-leading Saint Mary’s and then visits Kentucky.

Looking Ahead

My viewing picks are in bold. All times are p.m. Eastern.

Friday

Michigan State at Wisconsin, 8 (FS1) — Game of the Day
Saint Joseph’s at St. Bonaventure, 8:30 (ESPN2/ESPN+ ($))

Saturday

Kansas State at Houston, 12 (ESPN)
Georgia at Florida, 12 (ESPN2)
Virginia at Louisville, 12 (CW)
Nebraska at Maryland, 12 (BTN)
Boston College at Notre Dame, 12 (ESPNU)
Georgetown at Providence, 12:30 (Fox)
Seton Hall at Marquette, 1 (FS1)
Missouri at South Carolina, 1 (SECN)
Wagner at Central Connecticut, 1 (NEC Front Row)
Akron at Miami (Ohio), 1 (ESPN+ ($))

Kansas at Iowa State, 1:30 (CBS)
North Carolina at Florida State, 2 (ESPN)
Texas at BYU, 2 (ESPN2)
Princeton at Cornell, 2 (ESPN+ ($))
Texas Tech at Oklahoma, 2 (ESPN+ ($))
Pittsburgh at Miami (Fla.), 2:15 (CW)
Indiana at Illinois, 3 (Fox)
Villanova at Butler, 3 (FS1)
Grand Canyon at UT Arlington, 3 (ESPN+ ($))
Western Illinois at Morehead State, 3 (ESPN+ ($))

Auburn at Mississippi State, 3:30 (SECN)
Clemson at Duke, 4 (ESPN)
TCU at Baylor, 4 (ESPN2)
Charlotte at Tulane, 4 (ESPNU)
Utah State at Boise State, 4 (MWN)
Colorado State at Wyoming, 4 (MWN)
Samford at ETSU, 4 (ESPN+ ($))
Colgate at American, 4 (ESPN+ ($))
Northern Arizona at Eastern Washington, 4 (ESPN+ ($))
High Point at Winthrop, 4 (ESPN+ ($))
North Florida at Eastern Kentucky, 4 (ESPN+ ($))
Vermont at Bryant, 4 (ESPN+ ($))
Colorado at Washington State, 5 (Pac-12 Networks)
Iowa at Michigan, 5 (FS1)
Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech, 5 (ACCN)
Liberty at Jacksonville State, 5 (ESPN+ ($))
UC San Diego at UC Davis, 5 (ESPN+ ($))
New Orleans at McNeese, 5 (ESPN+ ($))

Arizona at Oregon, 5:30 (Fox) — Game of the Day (High-Major)
UTEP at Sam Houston, 5:30 (ESPN+ ($))
Kentucky at Arkansas, 6 (ESPN)
James Madison at App State, 6 (ESPN2/ESPN+ ($)) — Game of the Day (Mid-Major)
Bradley at Indiana State, 6 (ESPNU/ESPN+ ($))
Tennessee at Vanderbilt, 6 (SECN)
Dayton at Richmond, 6 (CBSSN)
Northern Iowa at Drake, 6 (ESPN+ ($))
Minnesota at Penn State, 6:30 (BTN)
DePaul at Creighton, 7 (FS1)
NC State at Syracuse, 7 (ACCN)
Arizona State at Oregon State, 7 (Pac-12 Networks)
UCF at Cincinnati, 7 (ESPN+ ($))

LSU at Alabama, 8 (ESPNU)
South Dakota State at Oral Roberts, 8 (Summit League Network)
San Francisco at Portland, 8 (ESPN+ ($))
Ohio State at Northwestern, 8:30 (BTN)
Ole Miss at Texas A&M, 8:30 (SECN)

Utah at Washington, 10 (ESPN2)
Loyola Marymount at Saint Mary’s, 10 (ESPNU/ESPN+ ($))
Gonzaga at Pacific, 10 (Root Sports/ESPN+ ($))
CSUN at UC Irvine, 10 (ESPN+ ($))

Sunday

Xavier at UConn, 12 (FS1)
Purdue at Rutgers, 1 (Fox)
North Texas at Florida Atlantic, 1 (ESPN2) — Game of the Day
Northern Kentucky at Youngstown State, 1 (ESPN+ ($))
SMU at Wichita State, 3 (ESPN2)
Memphis at UAB, 5 (ESPN)
Nevada at New Mexico, 10 (FS1)

Monday

Duke at Virginia Tech, 7 (ESPN)
Northwestern State at McNeese, 8 (ESPN+ ($))
Houston at Texas, 9 (ESPN) — Game of the Night