2024 NCAA Tournament Bracket Watch: New Mexico’s in, Indiana State is out



CBB BracketWatch031524

(Editor’s note: This is part of the Bracket Central Series, an inside look at the run-up to the men’s and women’s NCAA Tournaments, along with analysis and picks during the tournaments.)

Usually, right around this time, we find ourselves saying, “Do any of these bubble teams actually want to play in the NCAA Tournament?”

Not this season. In six years of doing Bracket Watch, we can’t remember a time when the cutline has been this competitive two days before Selection Sunday. Consider teams that were just outside our field before Thursday:

• Providence, which beat Creighton in the Big East tournament for its sixth Quad 1 win.

• Colorado, which entered the day 26th in KenPom, blew out Utah in the Pac-12 tournament.

• New Mexico, which beat Boise State in the Mountain West tournament for its fourth Q1 win after entering the day 25th in the NET.

That doesn’t even count Pitt, which knocked Wake Forest out of the ACC tournament as part of its late surge. Meanwhile, three teams in our First Four — Virginia, Texas A&M and St. John’s — all won too, as did the team with the last bye, Mississippi State. Imagine if Villanova managed to beat Marquette in overtime.

It looked like an extra spot in the field would open up when the top two seeds in the Atlantic 10 lost in the quarterfinals, but then Dayton went ahead and lost too, assuring that the league gets two bids. In this game of musical chairs, the tune is winding down, and the seats are rapidly diminishing.

And we think that’s bad news, sadly, for Indiana State.

The Sycamores are a great story, but the resume remains awfully thin. They get bumped in favor of New Mexico, which improved to 7-7 in the first two quads and rose to 23rd in the NET and 27th in KenPom. It’s hard to see a team with those numbers being left out. Colorado is 26th in the NET with no losses outside of the first two quads. But dig a little deeper on the Buffaloes. While clearly talented, they haven’t beaten a team in the top 40 of the NET all season. Their two Quad 1 wins came against Washington and Oregon, neither of whom is sniffing tournament consideration. Colorado has beaten just one team in the field — Washington State, at home — and has a losing record in the first two quads and on the road. Those are giant red flags.

There’s still basketball left to be played — chances for teams like Providence (vs. Marquette) and Pitt (against North Carolina) to boost their resumes or for teams like Texas A&M (against Kentucky) and Mississippi State (vs. Tennessee) to play themselves out of the field with poor showings on Friday. Colorado gets another shot at Washington State in Las Vegas and perhaps can solidify its standing. Another at-large spot could open up if Florida Atlantic wins the AAC tournament; the Owls open the postseason on Friday. Unfortunately for Indiana State, all it can do is wait.

A few good teams likely will miss the tournament. It’s almost an argument for expanding the field … except the exclusivity is what makes the drama of Championship Week so compelling.

First Four Out Next Four Out Last Four In Last Four Byes

Indiana State

Kansas State

Virginia

Michigan State

Colorado

Villanova

St. John’s

Oklahoma

Providence

Ohio State

New Mexico

Seton Hall

Pitt

Wake Forest

Texas A&M

Mississippi State

Multi-bid conferences

League Bids

Big 12

9

SEC

8

Big Ten

6

Mountain West

6

Big East

5

ACC

4

Pac-12

2

A10

2

AAC

2

WCC

2

Seed list

1

Purdue

AQ

2

Houston

AQ

3

UConn

AQ

4

Tennessee

AQ

5

North Carolina

AQ

6

Arizona

AQ

7

Iowa State

8

Marquette

9

Baylor

10

Creighton

11

Duke

12

Kentucky

13

Kansas

14

Illinois

15

Alabama

16

BYU

17

Auburn

18

South Carolina

19

Washington State

20

Utah State

AQ

21

Clemson

22

Saint Mary’s

AQ

23

Texas Tech

24

San Diego State

25

Florida

26

Gonzaga

27

Boise State

28

Nevada

29

Texas

30

Wisconsin

31

Northwestern

32

Dayton

33

Nebraska

34

Colorado State

35

Florida Atlantic

36

TCU

37

Michigan State

38

Oklahoma

39

Seton Hall

40

Drake

AQ

41

Mississippi State

42

Virginia

43

St. John’s

44

New Mexico

45

Texas A&M

46

James Madison

AQ

47

South Florida

AQ

48

Grand Canyon

AQ

49

McNeese State

AQ

50

VCU

AQ

51

Samford

AQ

52

Princeton

AQ

53

Akron

AQ

54

UC Irvine

AQ

55

Vermont

AQ

56

Charleston

AQ

57

Oakland

AQ

58

Morehead State

AQ

59

Colgate

AQ

60

Sam Houston State

AQ

61

South Dakota State

AQ

62

Longwood

AQ

63

Quinnipiac

AQ

64

Montana State

AQ

65

Stetson

AQ

66

Norfolk State

AQ

67

Grambling

AQ

68

Wagner

AQ

The Bracket Central series is part of a partnership with E*TRADE.

The Athletic maintains full editorial independence. Partners have no control over or input into the reporting or editing process and do not review stories before publication.

(Photo of Virginia’s Reece Beekman: Nick Wass / AP)





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