A part of school basketball’s magnificence is its unpredictability. Only one yr after the 2022 NCAA Event produced a blue blood particular of Duke, North Carolina, Villanova and Kansas within the Last 4, the 2023 Large Dance veered exhausting in an sudden course. The Last 4 featured three first-time visitors — FAU, Miami and San Diego State — together with No. 4 seed and eventual nationwide champion UConn.
UConn, Miami and FAU have been unranked to start final season, whereas San Diego State was nineteenth. In the meantime, North Carolina turned the primary preseason No. 1 crew to ever miss the NCAA Event. Now, with the arrival of the 2023-24 season, it is time to embrace the probabilities as soon as once more.
When the ball is tipped Monday across the nation, it’s going to mark the start of a five-month journey that can culminate in Glendale, Arizona, for the 2024 Last 4. Opinions on who shall be at State Farm Stadium on the primary weekend of April fluctuate tremendously inside our panel of six consultants right here at CBS Sports activities. Collectively, we have picked 13 groups to succeed in the Last 4, with three totally different groups popping out on high as nationwide champions.
Under, you will discover these makes an attempt to foretell what’s in retailer for the completely unpredictable sport of school basketball within the 2023-24 season.
2024 Last 4 predictions
Kansas: The Jayhawks have received two nationwide championships beneath Invoice Self and would’ve been the favourite in 2020 if not for a world pandemic resulting in the cancellation of the NCAA Event. Now, right here they’re once more, No. 1 within the preseason AP Prime 25 and the favourite in betting markets to win the 2024 NCAA Event largely due to Self’s presence, the return of starters Dajuan Harris, Kevin McCullar and Okay.J. Adams and the addition of transfers Hunter Dickinson and Nick Timberlake. Kansas has expertise, expertise, depth and a coach who has been labeled the perfect within the sport by a panel of CBS Sports activities writers and analysts two straight years. That is an awesome mixture and why I imagine the Jayhawks are the crew more than likely to win the nationwide championship, which might make Self simply the seventh Division I males’s coach in historical past to assert three NCAA Event titles. — Gary Parrish (additionally David Cobb, Jerry Palm)
Purdue: There have solely been two No. 1 seeds in NCAA Event historical past to lose to a No. 16 seed. One was Virginia in 2018, however the Cavaliers rebounded in one of the best ways doable by successful the NCAA championship the next yr. The opposite is Purdue in 2023, and I imagine the Boilermakers can replicate Virginia’s follow-up. Purdue has the largest weapon within the sport — reigning Participant of the Yr Zach Edey — and a extra skilled supporting solid that has all of the chips on all of the shoulders to come back again higher this season. The vast majority of the crew’s core is again in place this season, and with an offseason to course of and enhance upon a heartbreaking postseason loss, I am betting Purdue finds a approach to flip this right into a feel-good story for the ages. — Kyle Boone (additionally Matt Norlander)
Duke: Duke brings again 4 starters from a crew that received the ACC title in Jon Scheyer’s first season on the helm, and this system parlayed that success on the recruiting path by bringing within the No. 2 total class. Guard play nonetheless issues in March, and Tyrese Proctor, Jeremy Roach and Jared McCain are the three standouts on the place. The 2023-24 season remains to be the yr of the large man, and it is exhausting to argue in opposition to Kyle Filipowski being the No. 2 total participant behind reigning Nationwide Participant of the Yr Zach Edey. The Blue Devils have a mix of expertise and youth that makes the proper recipe for a nationwide title returning to Durham, North Carolina. — Cameron Salerno
Predicted Last 4 groups
FAU: The most important mistake some make whereas discussing FAU is insisting the Owls “simply bought scorching within the NCAA Event to make the Last 4” fairly than acknowledging that they have been simply actually good all season. FAU went 35-4 whereas enjoying in a league with two different top-50 KenPom groups. The Owls received their convention by a number of video games. They received the title recreation of their convention event by 22 factors. They beat the Memphis crew that beat Houston within the AAC Event, beat the Tennessee crew that eradicated Duke from the NCAA Event and beat the Kansas State crew that eradicated Kentucky and Michigan State from the NCAA Event. Now, all 5 starters are again from that extremely completed crew, which is why there’s nothing loopy about suggesting Florida Atlantic actually does have the coach and gamers to make back-to-back Last Fours despite the fact that this system had zero NCAA Event wins in historical past previous to its run final March. — Parrish
Texas A&M: My Last 4 picks are yearly a bundle of groups that I deliberately select to NOT all be ranked within the high 4/5/6. Remember, with one exception (2007-08), the 4 Last 4 groups weren’t ranked within the preseason high 5. So, I am searching for life like picks that are not apparent acros the board. I’m the one one of many six right here to select A&M to go to Glendale. I just like the Aggies’ probabilities to win the SEC a yr faraway from ending second with a 15-3 file and returning the fourth-highest proportion of minutes-getters in high-major basketball (Wisconsin, Purdue and Marquette, per BartTorvik.com). Search for junior lead guard Wade Taylor IV to emerge as the most effective backcourt scorers within the nation. One caveat right here, although: My A&M choose was made earlier than it was revealed that Julius Marble is at present away from the crew for causes that have not been disclosed. His position is a serious one to A&M’s season-long viability, so we await extra with that. (If Marble winds up not being on the crew, I might faucet Marquette as a sub right here.) — Norlander
Texas: You are seeing some love for second-year coach Jon Scheyer in our preseason Last 4 picks, however let me give second-year Texas coach Rodney Terry — who’s in his first season because the full-time chief of the Longhorns — some assist. Texas was a No. 2 seed final season and made the Elite Eight, ending fifth at KenPom within the course of. That is an awesome yr. The Longhorns introduced on the most effective scorers within the nation, Max Abmas from Oral Roberts, and will have an elite two-way guard within the Large 12 with junior Tyrese Hunter. Dillon Mitchell had a delicate opening as a freshman; search for him to pop. Dylan Disu’s all-around worth is about to turn into much more realized, too. I do not assume Texas will win the Large 12, however I do assume it should rack up Quad 1 wins and put itself in place to be on the 2-, 3- or 4-seed line. A crew with all the items to win 4 within the Large Dance, little question. — Norlander
Kentucky: Kentucky has not made it to the second weekend of the NCAA Event since 2019. It has misplaced to Kansas State, Saint Peter’s and in addition missed the tourney fully since then. So, the momentum for UK beneath John Calipari is not there proper now. I get it. However expertise nonetheless issues greater than I feel the informal fan would care to acknowledge, and Kentucky has it in spades. Even with a totally suspect frontcourt because of preseason accidents, the Wildcats have two potential stars in Justin Edwards and DJ Wagner — the core items of a top-five incoming recruiting class. With Antonio Reeves again, there is a good mix of expertise and elite youthful expertise to assist Calipari get issues again on monitor in Lexington. — Boone
UConn: Haters will level to the truth that going to back-to-back Last Fours is traditionally unlikely; the final crew to take action was these mid-aughts Florida groups beneath Billy Donovan. The haters do not know Dan Hurley, although. UConn misplaced Adama Sanogo and Jordan Hawkins from its title-winning crew, however the nucleus of Tristen Newton, Alex Karaban and Donovan Clingan are again mixed with the arrival of potential one-and-done freshman Stephon Citadel. This crew will once more have measurement, size and great guard play — the recipe of a crew that would, and I feel will, be again within the Last 4 this season. — Boone
Michigan State: Michigan State’s mixture of returning manufacturing and younger expertise is the proper combine in as we speak’s period. The Spartans can flip to veteran guards like Tyson Walker, A.J. Hoggard and Jaden Akins in clutch moments and for constant manufacturing. Because the veterans information the ship, a trio of top-50 freshmen can acclimate to the school recreation and blossom into key roles in time to shine by March. Tom Izzo has guided the Spartans to 25 straight NCAA Event appearances, together with 15 Candy 16s and eight Last Fours. This group has all of the components wanted so as to add to his legacy. — Cobb
Arizona: Arizona is 61-11 (32-8 Pac-12) and has earned a No. 1 seed and No. 2 seed for the NCAA Event over the previous two seasons to start coach Tommy Lloyd’s tenure. The Wildcats have made early exits from the Large Dance beneath Lloyd, however this crew could be totally different. Former North Carolina guard Caleb Love has been to a nationwide title recreation, so has San Diego State switch ahead Keshad Johnson. Each ought to be starters and can mix with a stable returning core of Kylan Boswell, Pelle Larsson and Oumar Ballo to present Lloyd one other deadly offensive crew. If Ballo can shine because the centerpiece of the frontcourt, the Wildcats will dance from their dwelling in Tucson to a Last 4 look simply up the highway in Glendale. — Cobb (additionally Norlander)
Marquette: Marquette was one of many nice surprises from final season. The Golden Eagles received the Large East common season and event titles earlier than incomes a 2-seed within the NCAA Event. They fell sufferer to Michigan State within the second spherical, however virtually everyone seems to be again to present it one other go. This season, like final, they’re led by reigning Large East Participant of the yr Tyler Kolek. Marquette went 9 deep final yr and Kolek is joined by seven different returning Golden Eagles from final season’s rotation. The one participant who left was Olivier-Maxence Prosper, who’s now prospering (pun meant) within the NBA. The Large East figures to be extremely aggressive once more this season, so a high seed within the NCAA Event could also be an excessive amount of to ask, however Shaka Sensible’s crew shall be properly ready for a deep run within the NCAA Event. — Palm
Creighton: Creighton was seconds away from reaching its first Last 4 in program historical past earlier than San Diego State’s Darrion Trammell knocked down a free throw that despatched the Bluejays packing. Creighton brings again the perfect trio within the Large East in Ryan Kalkbrenner, Baylor Scheierman and Trey Alexander, and it added Utah State switch Steven Ashworth to switch former level guard Ryan Nembhard. The Large East shall be a grind, and there are three groups — UConn, Marquette and Creighton — that every one have a legit probability of reaching the ultimate weekend of the season. That is the yr the Bluejays recover from the hump, largely due to their returning expertise. — Salerno (additionally Boone)
USC: The Trojans are able to make a run. USC brings again star guard Boogie Ellis, who shall be paired within the backcourt with Isaiah Collier, who is taken into account one of many high level guards from the 2023 recruiting cycle and the favourite to win Freshman of the Yr. By season’s finish, we might be having a dialog about Ellis and Collier being the highest backcourt in America due to how properly they complement one another. The most important storyline surrounding the Trojans program is the standing of Bronny James, who suffered a scary heart-failure incident over the summer season and has no timeline for a return. If USC can get James again in any capability, he can be the proper position participant to pair with Collier and Ellis. USC was on the cusp of reaching the Last 4 in 2021, and that is the season this system ends its 70-year drought. — Salerno