March Madness 2024: NCAA Tournament brackets revealed

March Madness 2024: Unveiling the Official NCAA Tournament Brackets

The excitement kicks off on Tuesday with the First Four games, setting the stage for a thrilling start. Then, the action ramps up with 32 first-round games on Thursday and Friday.

Defending champion Connecticut, Houston, Purdue, and North Carolina have clinched the top seeds in this year’s March Madness bracket. This announcement came amidst a whirlwind of surprises, even before the pairings were revealed on Sunday. Among these top seeds, UConn stands out as the only team entering the tournament on a winning note, securing the No. 1 overall seed. The other three faced defeats in their conference tournaments, adding an unexpected twist to the proceedings.

The final weekend before the tournament was filled with unexpected outcomes. Teams like Oregon, North Carolina State, and Duquesne, initially not expected to make it, secured their spots through automatic bids as conference champions. This development took up several at-large bids, leaving fewer spots for teams on the bubble.

Charles McClelland, the selection committee’s chairman, described this year’s selection process as particularly challenging. He noted that it was one of the toughest he’s been part of, a sentiment echoed by staff with two decades of experience in the selection room.

The last teams to make it into the tournament were Colorado, Virginia, and, surprisingly, Boise State. On the other hand, teams like Oklahoma, St. John’s, Pittsburgh, and Indiana State, which many had expected to qualify as recently as Friday, found themselves left out.

The tournament officially begins with two First Four games on Tuesday. This includes a matchup between Virginia and Colorado State, a team not widely considered to be on the bubble. The first round of 32 games will take place on Thursday and Friday, leading up to the Final Four scheduled for April 6-8 in Glendale, Arizona.

UConn, facing Stetson on Friday, is the favorite to win according to FanDuel Sportsbook. The Huskies aim to be the first team to win back-to-back championships since Florida in 2006-07. With a seven-game winning streak and a total of 31 wins, they are tied for the most wins in the nation this season.

Coach Dan Hurley expressed confidence in his team, stating, “We’ve been the best team in college basketball. March Madness is unpredictable, but we’ve clearly been the top program in the country this year.”

In terms of conference representation, both the SEC and Big 12 have eight teams in the field, while the Big Ten and Mountain West each have six. Michigan State continues its record with a 26th consecutive tournament appearance, facing Mississippi State on Thursday. Gonzaga, once considered a bubble team, secured its 25th consecutive tournament appearance after a strong finish to the season.

Kansas enters the tournament as a 4 seed despite injuries to key players. Florida, a 7 seed, faces a challenge after losing Micah Handlogten to injury early in the SEC title game.

Rick Pitino’s son, Richard, led New Mexico to the Mountain West Conference title, securing an 11 seed and a matchup against Clemson on Friday. UAB emerged as another “bid stealer,” securing a 12 seed in the East and a game against last year’s runner-up, San Diego State.

Yale, a 13 seed, made a dramatic comeback to win its conference title and will face No. 4 Auburn on Friday. Saint Peter’s returns as a 15 seed, facing Tennessee in the Midwest, hoping to replicate its previous tournament success.

Duquesne, the surprise winner of the Atlantic-10, makes its first tournament appearance since 1977, with a game against No. 6 BYU on the horizon. Dan Monson, head coach of Long Beach State, led his team to a Big West victory, securing a spot in the tournament and a matchup against No. 2 Arizona.

This year’s March Madness is filled with compelling stories, unexpected contenders, and the promise of unforgettable basketball action.