NCAA Tournament Second Chance Bracket: Re-Seeding the Field From 16 to 1

NCAA Tournament Second Chance Bracket: Re-Seeding the Field From 16 to 1 article feature image

Photo by Andy Hancock/NCAA Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: Noah Clowney & Brandon Miller (Alabama)

After six crazy days of basketball, the field of 68 has been trimmed down to 16. Two No. 1 seeds and two No. 2 seeds went down, alongside some other high-level seeds.

So, naturally, it’s time to re-seed the bracket and rank all 16 teams left in the field.

I took on that task, ranking the field based on a combination of how they’re playing, talent and potential. This will help you with your futures or if you're in a second chance bracket league.

16. Princeton Tigers

Putting the Tigers in “last place” in this re-seeding list may seem rude. However, it still implies that the Tigers are one of the nation’s 16-best teams, and they are playing like one.

The Tigers put together two of the best wins during the tournament’s first weekend, with a late-game flurry of points to take down Arizona and then a full-game flurry of 3s to blow out Mizzou.

Tosan Evbuomwan handles the interior scoring and dishing while the other four players hunt the perimeter for open 3s.

However, the Tigers are still a 15-seeded Ivy League team, likely the worst in the remaining field. The slipper will have to fit tightly if Princeton wants to get past Creighton.

15. FAU Owls

I considered putting the Owls higher than this in the re-seed, as they have jumped to 22nd in KenPom.

However, 22nd in KenPom is still only ahead of Michigan State, Miami and Princeton in the current field.

Meanwhile, the Owls only had to beat No. 8 seed Memphis and No. 16 seed FDU to reach the second weekend.

The Owls are incredibly deep, feature plenty of 3-and-D players and are led by a certified stud guard in Johnell Davis. But FAU shouldn’t be one of the favorites to win the whole thing.

14. Miami (FL) Hurricanes

Jim Larranaga is a tournament coach, and the Hurricanes are a tournament team. The Canes boast unbelievable guards, and great guard play plays in March.

That said, Miami is prone to plenty of lapses on the defensive end.

As a result, the Canes are the second-worst KenPom-rated team in the remaining field. So, placing them much higher than this in the re-seeded field is tough to justify.

Also, I’m unsure if Miami has a shot against Houston going forward.

13. San Diego State Aztecs

The Aztecs deserve to be in the Sweet 16. Brian Dutcher’s defense is so overwhelming that the Aztecs belong among the final 16.

That elite defense held both its first-weekend opponents under 60 points, including Furman to only 52 in the second round.

That said, the Aztecs only had to beat No. 13 seed Furman to get here, and the offense relies heavily on the ever-streaky Matt Bradley.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Alabama contain Bradley and crush SDSU into oblivion.

12. Xavier Musketeers

Xavier was originally the tournament's 12th overall seed, and I’m leaving it in the same spot despite the Musketeers advancing to the Sweet 16.

To me, there’s something off with the Musketeers. I’m not sure how high the Xavier ceiling is without Zach Freemantle. Plus, the Musketeers looked a little shocked against Kennesaw State’s tricky matchup zone defense and penetrate-and-kick offense.

The win against Pitt was huge from a bounce-back perspective, but I’m relatively low on the No. 3 seed Musketeers going forward.

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11. Arkansas Razorbacks

It’s hard not to bump Arkansas up the re-seed line just because of how impressive the win over Kansas was.

But what's going on with Arkansas? Nick Smith Jr. might never play again, and the Hogs still can’t shoot.

I also don’t think the Hogs have a shot against UConn. But a third straight Sweet 16 appearance for Eric Musselman is enough to celebrate, even if the Razorbacks fall just short of three straight Elite 8s.

10. Kansas State Wildcats

Markquis Nowell and Keyontae Johnson are the best tandem in college hoops, with Nowell playing especially well during the tournament’s first week.

However, I have my doubts about the Wildcats. The interior defense is a little shaky, and the offensive efficiency numbers dropped off once Big 12 defenses adjusted to their style of play.

I’m also not enamored with Kansas State’s two tournament wins, especially against a John Calipari-coached Kentucky team that can’t make in-game adjustments.

No. 7 seed Michigan State is currently favored over No. 3 seed Kansas State, so I have to keep the Wildcats slightly lower.

9. Michigan State Spartans

I think Michigan State will win against Kansas State, as the Spartans are a perfect team for this tournament.

Michigan State’s backcourt is arguably the best left in the tournament, and Tom Izzo is as good of a tournament coach as any guy in the country. The Spartans were properly seeded entering the weekend, but they’re underrated now.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sparty in the Final Four.

8. Tennessee Volunteers

Tennessee’s metrics are still excellent, mostly thanks to its elite defense. However, that defense is a tad overrated, and the Vols struggle to impose their will on offense.

It’s also impossible to trust Rick Barnes in the tournament.

So, I’m putting Tennessee behind a few other teams because of its two main issues.

Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images. Pictured: Uros Plavsic (Tennessee)

7. Creighton Bluejays

The Bluejays are playing excellent basketball, and the upset win over Baylor was especially impressive.

Creighton had its ups and downs this season, and Ryan Kalkbrenner’s absence dragged down its metrics. However, the Bluejays are one of the best teams in the country at their potential.

It’s hard to rank Creighton higher than here in the re-seeded bracket, but the Bluejays have as good of a chance as anyone to win the tournament. Their two-way efficiency numbers are excellent.

6. Gonzaga Bulldogs

Gonzaga officially has the nation’s longest active winning streak at 11. The Bulldogs also have the nation’s highest Adjusted Offensive Efficiency.

The Bulldogs also have one of the nation’s best players in Drew Timme, and an especially impressive second-round win over TCU.

Gonzaga’s defense keeps it from the top echelon of the re-seeded bracket, but it's in the thick of the national title race.

5. UCLA Bruins

UCLA is second in KenPom and played elite defense in back-to-back first-weekend wins against UNC Asheville and Northwestern.

However, I can’t get over Jaylen Clark’s injury, which might hold back the Bruins from a national title.

That’s why I’m keeping UCLA behind the top four for now.

That said, Mick Cronin’s team is dangerous. Jaime Jaquez Jr. is arguably the nation’s best college basketball player. His one-on-one isolation shotmaking is insane and he can win the Bruins games late.

4. Texas Longhorns

Texas has six straight wins over elite teams, including two straight over Kansas, one over TCU and most recently, a second-round win over a red-hot Penn State team.

When Timmy Allen and Sir'Jabari Rice score off the wing on each side of Marcus Carr’s playmaking, the Texas offense is impossible to stop.

Meanwhile, the Longhorns are as athletic and aggressive on defense as any team in the nation.

Texas is not the best team left currently, but it's one of them.

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3. UConn Huskies

If I were picking a team to win the whole thing right now, I’d surprisingly take UConn.

Since Feb. 1, the Huskies have led the nation in adjusted efficiency while winning nine of 11 games. The Huskies also took down two high-quality NCAA tournament teams in Iona and Saint Mary’s.

Adama Sanogo is also playing his best basketball at the right time, combining for 28/13 in the first round and 24/8 in the second. Having a dominant late-game player at this time of the year is so important.

Also, Connecticut is impossible to stop when the Huskies are hitting 3s. UConn shot over 40% from 3 in both its NCAA tournament games, with Jordan Hawkins and Tristen Newton sinking opponents from deep.

The Huskies can beat anyone on a neutral court and are playing their best basketball at the right time. If Sanogo continues to dominate, the Huskies will be a Final Four team.

2. Houston Cougars

Houston is healthy, uber-athletic, elite defensively and cruised to back-to-back double-digit wins in the tournament’s first two rounds.

The Cougars are also tops in KenPom and coached by certified stud Kelvin Sampson.

If Alabama weren’t so dominant, the Cougars would be my re-seeded No. 1 overall team. It would be a treat if those two met in the national title game.

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama is a two-way wagon, with elite shooting on one end and suffocating defense on the other.

But Brandon Miller’s current play puts Alabama over the top, as he can carry the Tide down the stretch of big games.

Alabama’s draw is easy, too. If the Tide get past San Diego State, they’ll pick up either No. 6 seed Creighton or No. 14 seed Princeton to go to the Final Four.

Additionally, the highest-seeded Alabama could face in the Final Four is the No. 3 seed Kansas State.

Alabama is playing excellent and has an elite bucket-getter at the point of attack.

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Doug Ziefel
Jun 23, 2024 UTC