Men’s NCAA Tournament 2024: Power Ranking All Teams Left in Round 2

Men’s NCAA Tournament 2024: Power Ranking All Teams Left in Round 2

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    CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - MARCH 21: Cormac Ryan #3 of the North Carolina Tar Heels celebrates with Armando Bacot #5 and Seth Trimble #7 against the Wagner Seahawks during the second half in the first round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Spectrum Center on March 21, 2024 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

    Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

    Sixty-eight programs opened the 2024 men’s NCAA tournament with hope and a dream, but only 32 teams remain.

    While most top-seeded schools are still in the running for a national title, a few upsets have knocked out expected contenders. Gone are Kentucky and Auburn, paving the early path for some Cinderella stories.

    Kidding aside, only 32 teams remain. That’s a big deal! The second round, played on Saturday and Sunday, will narrow the field of championship hopefuls to just 16.

    The following order is a subjective ranking of best teams remaining, not necessarily how likely they are to reach the Sweet 16.

32-27. Oakland, Yale, Duquesne, NC State, James Madison, Oregon

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    Jack Gohlke

    Jack GohlkeJustin K. Aller/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

    32. Oakland Golden Grizzles (No. 14 seed, 24-11)

    Thanks to a near-historic performance from Jack Gohlke—who’s officially a March Madness legend—the Golden Grizzles are moving on. Gohlke drained 10 threes in an upset of third-seeded Kentucky, and he’ll be shooting often in a clash with No. 11 North Carolina State.

    31. Yale Bulldogs (No. 13 seed, 23-9)

    For the second straight year, the Ivy League champion is advancing. Princeton stunned No. 2 Arizona last year, and Yale upended fourth-seeded Auburn on Friday. John Poulakidas poured in 28 points to give the Bulldogs a shot at No. 5 San Diego State over the weekend.

    30. Duquesne Dukes (No. 11 seed, 25-11)

    Head coach Keith Dambrot is set to retire following the season, but he’s leaving Duquesne with a heck of a parting gift. The victory over BYU marked the program’s first NCAA tournament victory since 1969. Duquesne will be leaning heavily on its defense to navigate Illinois in the second round.

    29. North Carolina State Wolfpack (No. 11 seed, 23-14)

    The stunning ACC champs continued a hot streak, bouncing Texas Tech in an 80-67 result. Thanks to Oakland’s upset, the Wolfpack have a greater chance to make the Sweet 16 for the first time in nine seasons. However, a defense that ranks 237th on the perimeter—even as the unit has performed much better recently—is a worrying note.

    28. James Madison Dukes (No. 12 seed, 32-3)

    Not only did JMU eliminate Wisconsin, but the Dukes never fell behind the fifth-seeded Badgers. James Madison forced 19 turnovers in the 72-61 upset, the program’s first victory in the NCAA tournament’s round of 64. Between pace and feisty defense, JMU should be a thorn in the second round against Duke.

    27. Oregon Ducks (No. 11 seed, 24-11)

    Thursday was a big moment for No. 11 seeds, huh? Jermaine Couisnard exploded for 40 points in a matchup with South Carolina—where he’d spent four seasons, by the way—and N’Faly Dante netted 23. Oregon gave up 11 threes, however, and Creighton’s loaded backcourt will be eager to take advantage of any space beyond the arc.

26-21. Northwestern, Grand Canyon, Michigan State, Colorado, Texas A&M, Dayton

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    SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH - MARCH 21: The Dayton Flyers celebrate defeating the Nevada Wolf Pack 63-60 in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Delta Center on March 21, 2024 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    26. Northwestern Wildcats (No. 9 seed, 22-11)

    Thanks to a last-second tying shot in regulation and a scorching overtime, Northwestern knocked out the darlings of the 2023 tournament. Ryan Langborg scored 12 of his game-high 27 points in the extra session. Up next? A, um, difficult date against top-seeded UConn.

    25. Grand Canyon Antelopes (No. 12 seed, 30-4)

    Practically all season, Grand Canyon stood out as a problematic first-round foe. More importantly, the Antelopes backed up the hype and bounced fifth-seeded Saint Mary’s. While offensive depth isn’t a strength for GCU, the Lopes create a ton of free-throw opportunities and could slow Alabama’s blistering pace in a fascinating way.

    24. Michigan State Spartans (No. 9 seed, 20-14)

    Oh boy, is Mr. March about to make another run? Michigan State’s calm win over Mississippi State has created a showdown with North Carolina. Tom Izzo’s squad must handle UNC star Armando Bacot in the post, but the Spartans’ slow tempo and superb defense will present a tough matchup.

    23. Colorado Buffaloes (No. 10 seed, 26-10)

    As if a 102-100 victory isn’t enough of a video game, Colorado’s box score is fantastic. Every starter collected at least 12 points, four rebounds, four assists and a steal in the thrilling win over Florida. Fair to say CU needs to play much better defense with No. 2 Marquette on the horizon.

    22. Texas A&M Aggies (No. 9 seed, 21-14)

    Nebraska put up little resistance in a lopsided loss to A&M. Entering the game, the Aggies owned the third-worst field-goal percentage of any tourney team. They proceeded to rack up 98 points with a trio of 20-point scorers, which should be mildly disturbing to a top-seeded Houston squad that can encounter some ice-cold spurts on offense.

    21. Dayton Flyers (No. 7 seed, 25-7)

    Not exactly how you draw it up, but survive and advance! Dayton overcame a 17-point deficit in the last eight minutes of the clash with Nevada, ultimately squeezing out a 63-60 win. Arizona’s high-scoring offense likely won’t be as forgiving in the second round.

20-16. Texas, Utah State, Washington State, Clemson, San Diego State

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    SPOKANE, WASHINGTON - MARCH 22: Miles Heide #40 of the San Diego State Aztecs and teammate Reese Waters #14 box out for a rebound against UAB Blazers during the first round of the 2024 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament held at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena on March 22, 2024 in Spokane, Washington. (Photo by C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

    C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

    20. Texas Longhorns (No. 7 seed, 21-12)

    Colorado State straight-up missed several open looks, but Texas yielded a season-low 29.3 field-goal percentage in the victory. More importantly, the Longhorns had 18 takeaways and boasted a 17-0 edge in points off turnovers. That kind of defensive effort can be hugely impactful in a showdown with Tennessee’s hot-and-cold offense.

    19. Utah State Aggies (No. 8 seed, 28-6)

    Superb defense lifted Utah State past TCU in a fun evening game. Ian Martinez dropped in 21 points, and Darius Brown II added a double-double of 10 points and 10 assists. Utah State’s third-ranked perimeter defense is a fascinating matchup with Purdue’s second-best three-point unit.

    18. Washington State Cougars (No. 7 seed, 25-9)

    For the second straight year, Drake squandered a second-half lead in the opening round. This time, it was Washington State ruining the Bulldogs’ dreams. Isaac Jones notched 20 points and 11 rebounds, guiding the Cougars to a hard-fought 66-61 victory. They’ll probably need a strong offensive day to get past No. 2 Iowa State, though.

    17. Clemson Tigers (No. 6 seed, 22-11)

    The lone No. 6 seed to survive, Clemson built a comfortable lead early on New Mexico and basically maintained it the entire way. While the Lobos weren’t an efficient team on the perimeter anyway, they mustered only three triples. Clemson’s best chance to upset Baylor in the second round involves locking down the outside, too.

    16. San Diego State Aztecs (No. 5 seed, 25-10)

    Whew, that was a close one. San Diego State and UAB traded leads in the second half, but the fifth-seeded Aztecs survived 69-65. They avoided an anticipated clash with Auburn because of Yale’s upset, so SDSU has a serious opportunity to make the program’s first-ever back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances.

15-11. Alabama, Gonzaga, Kansas, Baylor, Creighton

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    Ryan Kalkbrenner

    Ryan KalkbrennerTim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

    15. Alabama Crimson Tide (No. 4 seed, 22-11)

    Mark Sears put up 30 points and five assists to propel the Crimson Tide in a comfortable win over Charleston. If you’re not sold on Alabama’s defense, you’re not alone. But in a second-round contest with Grand Canyon, it’s reasonable to believe the Tide’s electric offense is capable of dominating the day.

    14. Gonzaga Bulldogs (No. 5 seed, 26-7)

    McNeese headed into Selection Sunday as a dangerous first-round opponent, but dreams of a first-round victory diminished when Gonzaga landed on the other side. The sizzling West Coast Conference power cruised to a 23-point halftime lead and an 86-65 rout. Following his 16 points and 10 rebounds in Thursday’s win, Zags’ post Graham Ike will likely be tasked with slowing Kansas star Hunter Dickinson.

    13. Kansas Jayhawks (No. 4 seed, 23-10)

    Perhaps they would’ve won anyway, but the Jayhawks benefited from a controversial foul with 14 seconds left to escape 13th-seeded Samford. Playing without star guard Kevin McCullar Jr., Kansas nearly squandered a 21-point lead in the 93-89 victory. The margin for error is much thinner, as you’d imagine, opposite the Zags.

    12. Baylor Bears (No. 3 seed, 24-10)

    No issues in the opener for Baylor, which never trailed in a 92-67 blowout of Colgate. Most impressively, the Bears knocked down 16 threes—the team’s second-highest total of the season. Clemson is normally just 213th in perimeter defense, so Baylor should have a substantial edge. But, again, New Mexico hit only three triples opposite Clemson on Friday.

    11. Creighton Bluejays (No. 3 seed, 24-9)

    After a back-and-forth opening half, Creighton pulled away from Akron in the second stanza. While not incredibly surprising, the five starters accounted for every single point in the Bluejays’ 77-60 triumph. Oregon stands in their way of a third Sweet 16 in four seasons.

10-6. Duke, Illinois, Marquette, Iowa State, Arizona

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    Milan Momcilovic

    Milan MomcilovicMichael Reaves/Getty Images

    10. Duke Blue Devils (No. 4 seed, 25-8)

    The bad news is Duke mustered a season-worst 64 points opposite Vermont. The good news is the defense surrendered a season-low 47 points! James Madison will likely try to push the tempo against the Blue Devils, who dropped five of the nine fastest-paced games they’ve played so far.

    9. Illinois Fighting Illini (No. 3 seed, 27-8)

    Terrence Shannon Jr. scored 26 points, but complementary players stole the show for Illinois. Marcus Domask had a triple-double with 12 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, while Dain Dainja went a perfect 9-of-9 for 21 points in the 85-69 win over Morehead State. The second round brings a fascinating clash of styles for fast-paced, offense-driven Illinois opposite slow-tempo, defense-led Duquesne.

    8. Marquette Golden Eagles (No. 2 seed, 26-9)

    Western Kentucky put a scare into Marquette, leading by as many as 10 points in the first half. The final eight minutes, though, belonged to the Golden Eagles. Kam Jones scored 28, and Tyler Kolek registered 18 points with 11 assists. Marquette is the favorite against Colorado but needs to avoid a similarly sluggish opening half.

    7. Iowa State Cyclones (No. 2 seed, 28-7)

    In the opening win over South Dakota State, five Iowa State players hit double figures in scoring. Six dished multiple assists, and four generated two-plus steals. That balance is imperative for Iowa State, which should be prepared for a defensive battle with upstart Washington State.

    6. Arizona Wildcats (No. 2 seed, 26-8)

    The nightmare of 2023 lingered for Arizona as 15th-seeded Long Beach State played a tight opening half. After the break, though, the ‘Cats rolled. Their six-point halftime lead swelled to 21 before the first media timeout, and the starters all contributed 10-plus points in the 85-65 victory. Arizona plays extremely fast; Dayton—which is third nationally in three-point percentage—does the opposite.

5-1. North Carolina, Tennessee, Houston, Purdue, UConn

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    Dalton Knecht

    Dalton KnechtGrant Halverson/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

    5. North Carolina Tar Heels (No. 1 seed, 28-7)

    Wagner stuck around for a half, but UNC’s talent swiftly closed the door in the second half of a 90-62 rout. RJ Davis scored 22 points, while Armando Bacot tallied 20 points and 15 rebounds. Jae’Lyn Withers had a nice impact off the bench with 16 points, 10 boards and three assists. Michigan State’s talented backcourt should be a considerable test for UNC in the second round.

    4. Tennessee Volunteers (No. 2 seed, 25-8)

    Two years ago, Saint Peter’s captivated the nation with its incredible run to the Elite Eight. Tennessee ensured that lightning would not strike twice for the 15th seed, rolling to an 83-49 triumph. Dalton Knecht had 23 points, and his supporting cast hit 7-of-16 threes. That balance is essential for UT opposite Texas—and potentially beyond.

    3. Houston Cougars (No. 1 seed, 31-4)

    Midway through the first half, Houston had meandered to a 14-9 advantage. By halftime, the Cougars built a 25-point lead. The 86-46 laugher provided a clear reminder this defense, at its best, is outstanding. Houston will be looking to show that strength against in-state foe Texas A&M.

    2. Purdue Boilermakers (No. 1 seed, 30-4)

    Well, enjoy a sigh of relief. Purdue learned in 2023 that a 16th seed cannot be overlooked, and the Boilermakers avoided a repeat of that disaster with a 78-50 rout of Grambling. Zach Edey racked up 30 points and 21 rebounds in the precursor to a tilt against Utah State.

    1. Connecticut Huskies (No. 1 seed, 32-3)

    To the surprise of hopefully zero people, Connecticut steamrolled Stetson in the opener. Led by Donovan Clingan’s 19 points, all five starters hit double digits. The performance did nothing to change my opinion—one shared by plenty—that UConn will be rolling into the second weekend. Northwestern will attempt to contain this bullet train.

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