It’s hard to believe it but it’s now 63 years since the NCAA men’s basketball tournament was first instigated in 1939 by Ohio State coach Henry Olsen. Of course, a great deal has changed over those six decades.
But one thing that has remained the same is the sense of anticipation and excitement that is generated by the approach of March Madness.
There’s also a huge amount of speculation about which one of the 68 teams that enter the tournament will emerge as the eventual winner in April.
This year is no exception. With the legendary Selection Sunday falling this year on March 12 even by the end of January predictions were starting to be made. March Madness lines also began to appear on various sportsbooks with fans keen to get in early for the very best prices.
The big question, as always, is who to back for the title and already a number of teams are definitely in the frame.
The hot favorites
Way out in the lead in the early betting are the Houston Cougars. This really does seem to be the season for Kelvin Sampson’s team who have only lost two games this season and are way out in the lead of the KenPom rankings. It also looks like ther will be very little standing in their way for the rest of the normal season. And if super guard Marcus Sasser maintains his form everything should work out.
Even though 2024 hasn’t meant the best of starts for the Jayhawks with losses to TCU, Baylor and local rivals Kansas State, hopes are still high that they can repeat last season’s success. For them, their star player is undoubtedly Jalen Wilson but the whole squad shows strength in depth that should see them through. The fact that they’re in the toughest conference in college basketball does make things a little harder. But given a little luck and a great deal of determination, this should see them through.
Riding high with just a single defeat this year, Purdue are the undisputed leaders of the Big 10 conference this season. So we can probably discount that loss to Rutgers as a tiny aberration in the grand scheme of things. For the Boilermakers, the undoubted star of the team, and shoo-in for Player of the Year, is center Zach Edey. So as long as he stays fit and avoids injury, they’re sure to be in contention.
As one of only two teams that have managed to get the better of Houston this year, the Crimson Tide are certainly making their way in the right direction. They’ve also overcome some other very tough opposition including Michigan State, North Carolina and Mississippi State. Their fast style of play can make them vulnerable to the sudden counter-attack. But if they can focus as much on defense as they do on attacking the hoop, they’re certainly in with a shout.
Their 17-3 record towards the end of January belies the team’s true quality. So it would be a brave person to deny that this could be the season that they clinch their 12th ever title. In guards Jaime Jaquez and Tyger Campbell they have perhaps the very best pairing in college basketball – and they could prove to be vital if the team is to succeed.
In with a shot
Gonzaga have definitely been in the winning ways this season, on the whole, and the teams that have beaten the have been predictably strong – we’re talking about you Purdue and Texas. But the Bulldogs definitely have the fighting spirit. Plus, with the big man Drew Timme up at the front, anything could be possible. If it does all come good for them over the rest of the season it would be a long- and well-deserved reward for a team with a very big heart.
Something of a dark horse, or dark bear, team, Baylor seem to be hitting winning form just when it might matter the most. January has seen them beating some very good teams including Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech with the 75-69 victory over the jayhawks being the most significant in this context. Keyonte George, a guard who has a bright future in the NBA will be instrumental in any success the team has this season.
Last, but not least, let’s put in a good word for North Carolina, the 2016-17 champions. The Tar Heels may have had a distinctly up and down season but could still just surprise us all.
Of course, there’s a long way to go until the April 3rd final and it is March Madness. So, in reality, anything could happen and we’ll just have to wait and see which team prevails on the day.
Key factors to consider when making predictions for March Madness 2024
The first factor is the team’s overall record. A team’s win-loss record is a good indicator of their overall ability and how they have performed throughout the season. Teams with a high winning percentage are generally more likely to do well in March Madness, but this is not always the case.
Another important factor is the team’s strength of schedule. This refers to the difficulty of the teams that the team has faced during the season. Teams that have faced a tough schedule are typically better prepared for the challenges that they will face in March Madness.
Another factor to consider is the team’s roster. Teams with experienced players, especially seniors, often have an advantage over younger, less experienced teams. Look at how well the players on the team have been performing and whether they have the ability to step up and lead the team to victory in the tournament.
Finally, you should also take into account the team’s momentum heading into the tournament. Teams that have been playing well leading up to March Madness are often more confident and better prepared to make a deep run in the tournament.
By considering these key factors, you can increase your chances of making accurate predictions for March Madness 2024. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or just enjoy making predictions for fun, following these tips can help you have a successful tournament season.