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2024 March Madness bracket: What to know about every team in the West region

[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 what you need to know about the West region.

No. 1 North Carolina (+1300 to win national title)

  • 27-7, at-large

In All-ACC center Armando Bacot and ACC Player of the Year RJ Davis, North Carolina returns two starters from the team that advanced to the 2022 national title game and then missed the 2023 NCAA tournament. The roster has since seen significant turnover with head coach Hubert Davis rebuilding through the transfer portal.

Gone is Caleb Love, who transferred to Arizona last offseason. The Tar Heels added former Stanford forward Harrison Ingram and Notre Dame guard Cormac Ryan last offseason, both of whom joined the starting lineup and have made a significant impact on a much-improved team.

A former five-star prospect, Ingram has developed into a do-everything player averaging 12.1 points, nine rebounds and 1.4 steals while shooting 37% from 3-point distance. A streaky shooting specialist, Ryan averages 12.1 points while shooting 34.1% on 5.8 3-pointers per game. Perhaps the most impactful addition, though, is freshman Elliot Cadeau, a pass-first point guard and the engine of North Carolina's offense.

No. 2 Arizona (+1200)

  • 25-8, at-large

Arizona boats one of the best inside-out duos in college basketball in All-Pac 12 center Oumar Ballo and Pac-12 Player of the Year Caleb Love. A 7-foot, 260-pound center, Ballo is a matchup nightmare who averages a double-double with 13.1 points and 10.1 rebounds per game.

Love averaged a career-high 18.1 points after transferring from North Carolina. He's one of the nation's most dangerous scorers when he's hot. He remains streaky as he has been his entire career, but posted a career-best 42.1% shooting percentage this season.

Love is joined in the backcourt by All-Pac 12 guard Pelle Larsson, a steadying force against the volatility of Love, who averages 12.8 points while shooting 53% from the field and 43% on 2.8 3-point attempts per game. If Love gets and stays hot, he's capable of leading Arizona to the Final Four and beyond.

No. 3 Baylor (+3500)

  • 23-10, at-large

Baylor's developed into a consistent power under Scott Drew and is making its fourth straight NCAA appearance as a top-3 seed since it won the 2021 national championship. This year's iteration isn't as strong on defense as the 2021 title team, but it is an offensive force. The Bears average 80.5 points per game and rank sixth in KenPom's adjusted adjusted offensive efficiency.

Big 12 Freshman of the Year Ja'Kobe Walter is a breakout candidate to take a starring role in the tournament. The 6-foot-5 guard led the Bears in scoring with 14.2 points per game while shooting 34% on 6.2 3-point attempts per game. He's joined in the backcourt by All-Big 12 point guard RayJ Dennis, a transfer from Toledo who stepped in immediately this season to run the Baylor offense with 13.3 points and 6.8 assists per game. All-Big 12 forward Jalen Bridges leads the frontcourt.

No. 4 Alabama (+3500)

  • 21-11, at-large

There will be no low-scoring games when Alabama's on the court. The Crimson Tide lead the nation with 90.8 points per game and rank second in KenPom's adjusted offensive efficiency. They rank 346th in the nation in scoring defense while allowing 81.1 points per game. That translates to a rank of 112 in KenPom's adjusted defensive efficiency. Buckle up.

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All-SEC guard Mark Sears is the engine of the offense, having taken the torch from last year's SEC Player of the Year and current Charlotte Hornet Brandon Miller. The senior averages 21.4 points and 4.1 assists while shooting 43.1% on 5.4 3-point attempts per game. He's one of five Alabama players who average at least nine points per game.

No. 5 Saint Mary's (+6600)

  • 26-7, WCC champion

Saint Mary's is in the NCAA tournament for a third straight season, this time as WCC champions over longtime rival Gonzaga. Saint Mary's beat Gonzaga in two out of three matchups this season, including in the WCC championship game.

The Gaels boast three All-WCC first-team selections in sophomore guard Aidan Mahaney, senior center Mitchell Saxen and junior Augustas Marciulionis, the WCC Player of the Year. A 6-4 guard, Marciulionis is a force on both ends of the floor who averages 12.4 points, 5.2 assists and 1.5 steals, setting the tone for a team that ranks 16th in KenPom's adjusted defensive efficiency.

PJ Hall is a player to watch if Clemson advances past the first round. (Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
PJ Hall is a player to watch if Clemson advances past the first round. (Justin Casterline/Getty Images) (Justin Casterline via Getty Images)

No. 6 Clemson (+15000)

  • 21-11, at-large

Clemson emerged from unranked in the preseason to ranked as high as 13th in the nation in December after a 9-0 start that included wins over fellow tournament teams Alabama and South Carolina. A tough early conference run that included four ACC losses in five games knocked the Tigers back out of the rankings.

But a strong finish that included a road win over North Carolina ensured a fifth-place finish in the ACC standings and an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament. First-team All-ACC forward PJ Hall drives the Tigers. The 6-10 senior averages 18.8 points, 6.7 assists and 1.5 blocks per game and is a capable 3-point shooter, connecting on 31.6% on 4.8 attempts per game. If Clemson breaks through to the second weekend, Hall will be the reason why.

No. 7 Dayton (+15000)

  • 24-7, at-large

Dayton earned an at-large bid out of the Atlantic 10 after a surprise quarterfinal loss to No. 6 seed and eventual champion Duquesne in the the conference tournament. It earned that bid courtesy of a potent offense that ranks 18th in KenPom's adjusted offensive efficiency and a résumé that includes Quad 1 wins over St. John's, SMU and Cincinnati.

The Flyers will go as far as A-10 Co-Player of the Year DaRon Holmes II can take them. The junior forward averages 20.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.1 blocks per game and shoots 38.5% from 3-point distance. He has the chance to make his name on the national stage if Dayton advances past the second round.

No. 8 Mississippi State (+10000)

  • 21-13, at-large

Mississippi is a strong defensive team team capable of winning on any given night. The Bulldogs finished ninth in the SEC, but claim two victories over No. 2 seed Tennessee and another over No. 4 seed Auburn. If its offense can match its defense that ranks 20th in KenPom's adjusted defensive efficiency, it's a threat to score an upset.

That will depend on how well All-SEC selections Tolu Smith (15.2 points, 8.4 rebounds per game) and Josh Hubbard (17.1 points per game, 35.8% from 3-point distance) can produce on offense. SEC All-Defensive team forward Cameron Matthews (9.5 points, 6.9 rebounds, two steals, 0.7 blocks per game) anchors the defense.

No. 9 Michigan State (+10000)

  • 19-14, at-large

After a 9-6 start in Big Ten play, Michigan State faltered down the stretch to a 10-10 finish with five losses in its last seven games including the conference tournament. It's not the optimal way to enter NCAA tournament play. But if the Spartans can regain their form, they're a threat to make some noise.

Can Tom Izzo right the Michigan State ship to advance to the tournament's second weekend? (Luke Hales/Getty Images)
Can Tom Izzo right the Michigan State ship to advance to the tournament's second weekend? (Luke Hales/Getty Images) (Luke Hales via Getty Images)

Michigan State is elite on defense, ranking eighth in KenPom's adjusted defensive efficiency. It boasts strong guard play led by by All-Big Ten selection Tyson Walker, a high-end defender who averages 18.4 points and 1.9 steals per game and shoots 37.2% from 3-point distance. And, of course, the Spartans are led by a coach in Tom Izzo who's been here before and taken Michigan State to eight Final Fours and a national championship.

No. 10 Nevada (+15000)

  • 26-7, at-large

Nevada is a balanced team that ranks in the top 40 in KenPom's adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency. It boasts three All-MWC players in a conference that sent six teams to the NCAA tournament. Second-team selections Kenan Blackshear (15.1 points, 4.9 assists, 4.9 rebounds per game) and Jarod Lucas (17.8 points per game, 39.7% from 3-point distance) lead the way.

Tré Coleman (1.3 steals, 0.7 blocks per game) anchors the defense as an MWC All-Defensive team selection. Before an upset loss in the MWC quarterfinals to Colorado State as the No. 2 seed, Nevada finished strong with 10 wins in its last 11 regular season games.

No. 11 New Mexico (+12500)

  • 26-9, MWC champion

Another Mountain West representative, New Mexico secured its bid with a run to the conference tournament championship. New Mexico beat Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State and San Diego State on four consecutive days to win the title and ensure that it wouldn't be left out of the dance.

The Lobos had a strong résumé before securing the automatic bid, boasting a No. 22 Net ranking including five Quad 1 wins. They rank 23rd in KenPom rating with top-41 rankings in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Three players were named to All-MWC teams (Donovan Dent, JT Toppin and Jaelen House), while Toppin was named Co-Freshman of the Year. It adds up to strong résumé for a No. 11 seed.

No. 12 Grand Canyon (+30000)

  • 29-4, WAC champion

The Antelopes held serve in the WAC tournament, winning two games as the No. 1 seed to secure the championship and the conference's automatic bid. The bid is their second straight and their third in four seasons after making their NCAA tournament debut in 2021 in the first season under head coach Bryce Drew.

WAC Player of the Year Tyon Grant-Foster leads the way and can fill up the box score. The 6-7 senior guard averages 19.8 points, six rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.4 blocks per game. He was joined on the All-WAC first team by senior forward Gabe McGlothan (13 points, 7.3 rebounds per game).

No. 13 Charleston (+100000)

  • 22-7, CAA champion

Charleston is back in the NCAA tournament for a second consecutive year after a drought that saw just one appearance in the previous 22 tournaments. It secured its bid with a dominant run through the CAA that saw it win the conference tournament as the No. 1 seed after posting a 15-3 regular season record.

The Cougars enter NCAA play on a 12-game win streak and will lean on an offense that averaged 80.5 points per game and ranked No. 58 in KenPom's adjusted offensive efficiency in its bid to upset Alabama in the first round. That game promises to be a high-scoring affair. All-CAA forward Ante Brzovic leads the way with averages of 12.3 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.

No. 14 Colgate (+200000)

  • 25-9, Patriot League champion

Colgate swept its way to the Patriot League tournament championship after a 16-2 first-place finish in the regular season. Sophomore guard Braeden Smith earned Player of the Year honors in the conference while averaging 12.5 points, 5.8 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game.

The tournament bid marks a fourth straight for Colgate under head coach Matt Langel.

No. 15 Long Beach State (+100000)

  • 21-14, Big West champion

Long Beach State finished in fourth place in the Big West with a 10-10 regular season. But it crashed the party with three straight wins in the conference tournament, including a championship game victory over UC Davis. It toppled regular-season champion UC Irvine in the semifinals.

All-Big West selection Aboubacar Traore leads the way with 12 points, 8.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.4 blocks per game.

No. 16 Howard (+200000)

  • 18-16, MEAC champion

Howard finished in third place in the MEAC in the regular season then won three straight conference tournament games to secure the championship and automatic bid. First-team All-MEAC forward Bryce Harris leads the way with 16.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 1.1 blocks per game.

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No. 16 Wagner (+200000)

  • 16-15, NEC champion

Wagner posted a losing record (7-9) in the NEC regular season for a sixth-place finish. But it secured three wins in the conference tournament including over No. 1 seed Central Connecticut and No. 2 seed Merrimack to win the automatic bid. The NCAA tournament appearance is Wagner's second ever and its first since 2003.