March Madness bracket predictions 2024: Instant picks for men’s bracket with field revealed


Star power is back in college basketball — and no, this isn’t about Caitlin Clark. While the Iowa women’s superstar remains the biggest name in the sport, the men’s side has some serious headline talent, too.

There’s a new coaching star hitting the sport after the recent retirements of legends like Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams, and Jay Wright. Danny Hurley’s UConn Huskies rolled to a national championship as a No. 5 seed a year ago, and they look even better this year. No men’s team has won back-to-back national titles since Billy Donovan’s Florida Gators in 2006-2007. UConn is the favorite entering the tournament, but they won’t have an easy path to reach Phoenix for the Final Four.

Purdue center Zach Edey has been a dominant force over the last two years. He’s poised to become men’s college basketball’s first back-to-back national player of the year since Ralph Sampson at Virginia more than 40 years ago. Edey’s Boilermakers face more pressure than any team in America as they enter this tournament with a No. 1 seed next to their name. A year ago, the Boilermakers were stunned by No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson in the opening round, and have their eyes on revenge.

Now that the 2024 men’s NCAA tournament bracket is out, let’s give our instant predictions on how the field is going to play out.

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East Region

The East region runs through the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed in UConn. The Huskies have a potentially scary second round matchup with last year’s Final Four participant Florida Atlantic, who we’ll beat Northwestern to reach the round of 32. Still, give us the Huskies moving on to the Sweet 16 and beyond.

San Diego State is another Final Four team from last year in this region. The Aztecs are now a No. 5 seed which is a spot ripe for an upset, but they should have enough to beat UAB in the opening round. SEC tournament champion Auburn is the No. 4 seed and has a tough matchup against a disciplined Yale team. The Tigers’ guard play is a worry, which is why we’ll take San Diego State to beat them to reach the Sweet 16. We’ll take UConn over SDSU to make the Elite Eight.

We’ll take Drake over Washington State in the 7-10 upset. Tucker DeVries and Co. have been on the brink of a March Madness breakthrough for years, and they finally get it this year. We’re moving Drake onto the Sweet 16 after an upset of No. 2 Iowa State in the round of 32. The metrics love the Cyclones, but their offense only ranks No. 55 due to a severe lack of three-point attempts. The Bulldogs have a great chance to make second weekend for that reason. Looking for another upset in this region? Give us LeBron James’ old high school coach, Keith Dambrot, to lead Duquesne to an opening round win.

Drake’s run ends against a mighty Illinois team that can score with anyone. The Illini finally make the second weekend under Brad Underwood, and advance all the way to the Elite Eight. We’ll take UConn over Illinois to reach the Final Four. Danny Hurley’s team checks every box for a potential national champion, and this is the first step by winning the region.

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South region

Let’s start with the best first round game here: James Madison vs. Wisconsin. The Badgers just upset Purdue in the Big Ten tournament, but the Dukes are playing incredible ball too riding a 13-game winning streak. We’ll take the Dukes to pull off the 12-5 upset. They aren’t stopping there: after Duke beats Vermont in the first round, the Blue Devils’ run ends to James Madison. The Dukes over Duke to reach the Sweet 16. Duke will have to wait for next year with Cooper Flagg and Co. coming in.

NC State went on a Cinderella run to win ACC tournament and make the field of 68. We’ll take the Wolfpack’s run to go one more game with a win over Texas Tech in a 11-6 upset. NC State’s Cinderella dreams end against Kentucky, who punches their ticket to the Sweet 16.

We’ll take Marquette to the Sweet 16, too, over Colorado. Give me Kentucky over Maquette in the Sweet 16. I’ll take Houston over James Madison in the other Sweet 16 matchup. Give me John Calipari’s Wildcats reaching the Final Four as a No. 3 seed with a win over Houston in the Elite Eight.

Kentucky’s offense can beat anyone when it’s locked in — even if their defense isn’t very good. This is a bet on Kentucky out-scoring their competition even without the type of skilled size they usually have. Kentucky vs. Houston would be an incredible clash of styles. Here’s hoping we get to see it.

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Midwest region

Purdue escapes the first round this year with a win over Montana State. Throw a party, West Lafayette. The Boilermakers’ round of 32 game against Utah State will be more difficult, but we believe Purdue has improved enough from last season to make the second weekend.

We’ll go with a 12-5 upset with Will Wade’s McNeese State team pulling off an upset over a Gonzaga team that didn’t look right for most of the season. We’ll take Kansas over Samford, and then Kansas over McNeese State. This is far from Bill Self’s best team, but the bracket played out favorably to reach the second weekend. Give me Purdue over Kansas to reach the Elite Eight.

Tennessee is the sleeping giant as the No. 2 seed in the Midwest. We’ll take the Vols to reach the Sweet 16 after the Virginia/Colorado State winner upsets Texas. Give me Tennessee to the Sweet 16. We’ll take Creighton to end the Vols’ run in the Sweet 16. The Bluejays brought back so many pieces from last season, and should have enough to compete with Rick Barnes’ team.

Purdue vs. Creighton in the Elite Eight. Can Zach Edey and Co. do it? It’s possible, but give me Creighton to the Final Four. The trio of guard Trey Alexander, wing Baylor Scheierman, and center Ryan Kalkbrenner is one of the best trios in the country. Creighton came one foul away from the Final Four last year, and I think they can get it done this season.

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West Region

The West feels like the chaos region. North Carolina anchors the region as the final No. 1 seed, but the Heels arguably got the most favorable path through the bracket of any top seed to these eyes. We’ll take the Heels over Michigan State to reach the Sweet 16.

The upsets start now. We’ll take Grand Canyon over St. Mary’s in a 12-5 upset, and we’ll take Charleston over Alabama in a 13-4 upset. Give me Grand Canyon to the Sweet 16, where they will lose to UNC.

New Mexico’s guard play is a perfect fit for March. Give me the Lobos over PJ Hall and Clemson in round one, and then over Baylor in round two. Baylor’s defense is just creaky enough for a potential upset. Dayton will beat Nevada behind superstar big man DaRon Holmes II over Nevada, but Dayton’s run ends to Arizona in round two. We’ll take UNC vs. Arizona in the Caleb Love Bowl for a Final Four spot. Give me the Heels in that matchup.

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Final Four 2024 predictions: UConn goes back-to-back

UConn vs. Kentucky is my dream national championship game. Somehow, the brackets worked out to make it happen.

Kentucky’s best game is as good as any team in the country. The Wildcats might not play much defense, but their offense is spectacular with two superstar freshman guards in Reed Sheppard and Rob Dillingham. The Wildcats have veteran firepower, too, led by Antonio Reeves. It’s absolutely vital that Calipari plays that trio as much as possible. If it happens, I see Kentucky knocking off Creighton and reaching the national title game.

UConn has only been defeated three times all season entering the NCAA tournament. The Huskies lost to Kansas on Dec. 1 in a true road game when the Jayhawks caught fire from three-point range. They lost to Seton Hall on the road later that month only days after flying home from Seattle, where they defeated Gonzaga. UConn also lost on the road to Creighton on a night when the Bluejays made 50 percent of their 28 three-point attempts. It feels like it’s going to take another outlier outside shooting effort to knock the Huskies out of the bracket barring some injury or foul trouble misfortune.

This team can play in every way. Sophomore center Donovan Clingan is an elite rim protector. The senior backcourt of Cam Spencer and Tristen Newton is as good as it gets in America. Alex Karaban is an awesome stretch four as a sophomore, and Stephon Castle is the type of breakout freshman who will rise up NBA draft boards with a deep run. The Huskies can win a shoot-out, or they can win a low scoring game. There isn’t a more complete team in the field.

Give me UConn over Kentucky in the title game, and I don’t think it will be close. UConn can play so many different styles, and that versatility will help make them college basketball’s first back-to-back champion since Billy Donovan’s Florida Gators.



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