2024 March Madness bracket: What to know about each team in the East Region

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By journalsofus.com

[Regional Breakdowns: East | South | Midwest | West]

With the field for the 2024 men’s NCAA Tournament now official, we’re breaking down each team in the bracket in the lead-up to March Madness. Here’s all you need to know about the Eastern Region.

1. UConn (+400 to win national title)

The defending national champions were even better during the 2023–24 regular season than they were a season ago. UConn was the No. 4 seed last year en route to the national title. This year, the Huskies are the No. 1 overall seed.

UConn shoots nearly 50% from the field and holds opponents to under 65 points per game. Five different players are averaging more than 10 points per game as Tristan Newton has become one of the best all-around players in college basketball. Newton leads the Huskies with 15 points per game, is second on the team with seven rebounds per game and averages six assists per contest.

UConn is the favorite to win a second consecutive national title and is hoping to become the first team to win back-to-back titles since Florida in 2006 and 2007.

2. Iowa State (+1800)

On Saturday, the Cyclones completely dominated Houston to win the Big 12 title and make it clear they are national title contenders. However, Iowa State would likely have preferred to avoid being on UConn’s territory.

Iowa State is one of the best defensive teams in the country. The Cyclones give up 61 points per game as opponents shoot only 40% from the field and turn the ball over 17.5 times per game. Only UTEP averages more steals per game than the Cyclones.

Keyshawn Gilbert leads the team with 13.8 points per game as the Cyclones have used the same starting lineup in 31 of 34 games so far this season.

3. Illinois (+3000)

The champions of the Big Ten Tournament may add points to the group. Terrence Shannon Jr. had 34 points in the Big Ten title game win over Wisconsin, after he had 40 points against Nebraska the previous night.

Shannon is the third-leading scorer in the country and missed a game earlier this season due to a school suspension. Illinois suspended Shannon in December after he was arrested by Lawrence, Kansas police and charged with rape following an alleged sexual assault in September. He rejoined the team in January after a judge granted a temporary restraining order against the school’s suspension.

Illinois would not have been a No. 3 seed without Shannon’s contributions on the court. If Shannon continues to score like he did in the Big Ten Tournament – ​​he averaged 34 points per game in three games – the Illini could make the Final Four.

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - MARCH 17: Terrence Shannon Jr. #0 of the Illinois Fighting Illini shoots free throws in the second half against the Wisconsin Badgers at Target Center during the championship game of the Big Ten Tournament on March 17, 2024 in Minneapolis.  Minnesota.  The Fighting Illini defeated the Badgers 93–87 to advance to March Madness.  (Photo by David Birding/Getty Images)

Terrence Shannon Jr. scored 34 in Illinois’ win over Wisconsin to clinch the Big Ten’s automatic March Madness bid. (Photo by David Birding/Getty Images)

4. Auburn (+1800)

The Tigers beat Florida to win the SEC Tournament on Sunday and enter the NCAA Tournament on a six-game winning streak. Oddsmakers clearly think that tigers are underrated in this region; Auburn has better national title chances than all but six of the tournament’s 68 teams. It has a lot to do with the Tigers’ KenPom ranking. The advanced analytics site ranks Auburn fourth in the nation behind Houston, UConn and Purdue.

Auburn is led by star forward Johnny Broome as he averages 16 points and 8 rebounds per game. The Tigers make nearly 55% of their 2-point shots and are seventh in the country with 18 assists a game.

5. San Diego State (+8000)

Can the Aztecs make another run at the national title game? A year after losing to UConn in the national championship, we may get a rematch in the Sweet 16.

Once again, San Diego State, led by coach Brian Dutcher, is one of the best defensive teams in the country. Opponents barely shot above 30% from behind the 3-point line, although the Aztecs themselves aren’t much better. SDSU shoots just 31% from deep as a team and averages just over 22 attempts per game. Forward Jadon Leddy was a key reserve for the Aztecs a season ago and has emerged as a leading scorer this season. After averaging eight points per game last season, the Ladys are looking to add 21 points per game in 2023-24.

6. BYU (+6600)

The Cougars held on in their first season in the Big 12. BYU finished fifth in the conference – and defeated Kansas in the standings via tiebreaker – before losing to Texas Tech in the second round of the conference tournament.

BYU averages 82 points per game and is the most frequent 3-point shooting team in the country. The Cougars’ 1,063 attempts from behind the arc are the most of any team. BYU hits 35% of those shots – slightly above average – and has seven players averaging at least nine points per game.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 15: Miles Rice #2 of the Washington State Cougars starts a play on the tee by bringing the ball up the court against the Colorado Buffaloes in the first half of the semifinal game during the Pac-12 Conference Basketball Tournament.  -Mobile Arena on March 15, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  The Buffaloes defeated the Cougars 58–52.  (Photo by David Baker/Getty Images)

Miles Rice and Washington State are in the NCAA Tournament. (Photo by David Baker/Getty Images)

7. Washington State (+15000)

The Cougars were unsuccessful in their quest to win the final Pac-12 Tournament title, but easily made the tournament thanks to a 14–6 regular season record in conference play.

Senior F Isaac Jones and freshman G Miles Rice both average 15 points per game and Jones leads the team in rebounding. Washington State is a global team; The Cougars receive contributions from players from North Macedonia (Andrej Jakimovski), Australia (Oscar Cliff), Nigeria (Ruben Chinwelu) and France (Kimani Houinsou).

8. Florida Atlantic (+10000)

Last season’s surprise Final Four participants are set to play the role of spoiler again after starting the season in the top 25. This year did not live up to those expectations; FAU played a high non-conference schedule and went 14–4 in its first year in the AAC. But the Owls have the ingredients to make a deep tournament run once again.

Johnell Davis leads the team with 18 points per game and Vladislav Golden is averaging nearly 16 points and 7 rebounds per game. Both of them played big roles in last year’s tournament, along with Elijah Martin (13 points per game).

9. North Western (+20000)

The Wildcats finished the season losing three of their last four games, although two of those losses were to teams that made the tournament in Michigan State and Wisconsin.

As has been the case for years under Chris Collins, Northwestern plays at a very slow pace. It is ranked 342nd in KenPom’s adjusted momentum rankings. The team’s offensive strength is its 3-point shooting. Northwestern ranks fifth in the nation at over 39% from behind the arc. Leading scorer Boo Bui is averaging 19 points per game on 44% shooting from behind the line.

10. Drake (+25000)

The Bulldogs ended Indiana State’s NCAA Tournament hopes with a win in the Missouri Valley title game a week earlier. Drake went 16–4 in conference play and defeated the Sycamores twice in their three meetings.

Drake is led by Tucker Davis; He is averaging over 21 points on 16 shots per game. Bulldogs are also exceptional at taking care of the ball. Drake averages less than 10 turnovers per game and is one of the better free-throw shooting teams at 76%.

11. Duquesne (+50000)

The Dukes are back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1977 after defeating VCU to win the Atlantic-10 Tournament title on Sunday. The last time Duquesne made the tournament it was a member of the Eastern Collegiate Basketball League. That league no longer exists.

This season’s team is coached by LeBron James’ high school basketball coach, Keith Dembrot. Duke is led by senior guards Dee Dee Grant (17 points per game) and Jimmy Clark (15 ppg).

BROOKLYN, NY - MARCH 17: The Duquesne Dukes celebrate with the trophy and their ticket to the NCAA basketball tournament after winning the Atlantic 10 Tournament against the Virginia Commonwealth Rams at Barclays Center on March 17, 2024 in Brooklyn, New York.  (Photo by Rich Gresley/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Duquesne is going to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1977. (Photo by Rich Gresley/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

12. UAB (+50000)

The Blazers clinched their second NCAA Tournament berth in the last three seasons by defeating Temple for the AAC title on Sunday. UAB is looking to win its first NCAA Tournament game since 2015 when it defeated Iowa State as a No. 14 seed before losing to UCLA.

UAB has one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country as Yaxel Lendeborg averages 13.8 points and 10.5 rebounds a game. He also shoots 52% from the field.

13. Yale (+50000)

Matt Noling hit the buzzer-beater on Sunday to seal a 62-61 win over Brown and the Bulldogs’ second NCAA Tournament berth in three seasons. Nowling is one of five players to average at least 10 points per game.

Yale is led by second-year forward Danny Wolf, who averages 14.5 points and nearly 10 rebounds a game.

14. Morehead State (+100000)

Morehead State defeated Little Rock for the OVC title and has won six consecutive games since a three-game loss in February. The Eagles lost to Indiana by just one point in December and won 12 of 13 games between that loss and their three-game losing streak to the Hoosiers.

Riley Minix leads the team with 20.8 points and 9.8 rebounds a game, while Drew Thelwell averages over six assists a game. Only seven teams allow fewer points per game than Morehead State’s 62.8 points allowed.

15. South Dakota State (+200000)

On March 12, the Jackrabbits defeated Denver to win the Summit League title. South Dakota State was 9–9 after losing to Denver on January 13. Since then, the Jackrabbits have gone 13–3 and are on an eight-game winning streak.

Zeke Mayo leads the team with 18.8 points per game and shoots 47% from the field while averaging nearly seven 3-point attempts per game.

16. Stetson (+200000)

This is the first NCAA Tournament appearance for the Hatters since they began playing basketball at the top level of Division I in 1972. The 2023–24 season also marks the second 20-win campaign in program history; First appeared back in 1974–75.

Jalen Blackmon is averaging 21.5 points per game and shooting 39% from the 3-point line. As a team, the Hatters make 37% of their 3-point attempts and rank 27th in the country.

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