Virginia college hoops

Nick Wass / Associated Press

Virginia forward Jordan Minor (22) reacting as he places the decal on the bracket board after defeating Boston College in overtime in an NCAA college basketball game in the quarterfinal round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament Thursday, March 14, 2024, in Washington. Virginia won 66-60.

March Madness this year comes at a time of great uncertainty in college sports.

In addition to eyeing potential 5-12 upsets and trying to figure out which sleeper to put in the Elite Eight, fans also have to consider more existential questions about college basketball’s future. How will realignment affect the makeup of Division I? How much will football-related decisions affect basketball? How long will the NCAA Tournament stay at 68 teams, and if it changes, what will that mean for the Cinderellas of March?

For now, this event looks pretty much the way it has for a generation. Don’t take it for granted as you fill out your brackets!


UConn is the betting favorite to win a second straight national title, but the Huskies face a potentially tough Sweet 16 matchup with Auburn. The Tigers received a No. 4 seed in the region despite being ranked No. 4 in the country by Ken Pomeroy.


No. 12 seed James Madison over 5-seed Wisconsin figures to be a popular first-round upset pick — maybe a little too popular. Same with No. 13 seed Vermont over fourth-seeded Duke. Houston has now proven itself against a power-conference schedule after joining the Big 12, and the region’s top seed should be well prepared.


“Dickinson” is the key word in this region. Kansas big man Hunter Dickinson didn’t play in the Big 12 Tournament, and his health has been a concern for the fourth-seeded Jayhawks. Top-seeded Purdue, meanwhile, needs to avoid being haunted by last year’s loss to 16th-seeded Fairleigh Dickinson.


Arizona is another team trying to rebound from a first-round loss in 2023, and top-seeded North Carolina returns after missing the tournament last year. Michigan State was on the bubble, but its Pomeroy rank (18th) suggests Tom Izzo has another dangerous team.


UConn and Houston hold serve, with fifth-seeded Gonzaga coming from under the radar in the Midwest. And then the obligatory longshot: ninth-seeded Michigan State. The title game matches two former American Athletic Conference teams and Houston denies UConn a repeat championship.

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