“THIS IS MARCH,” -the immortal Jon Rothstein

We’re in the thick of wrapping up conference championships to punch tickets to the dance; it’s the most wonderful time of the year for college basketball fans; over 70 million brackets get made on average per year as it takes over the entire nation. There is an average of $6.3 billion lost in corporate dollars due to lost productivity because we all have much bigger priorities: watching the absurd 68-team tournament kickoff in a single elimination tournament in front of crazy college kids.

We wouldn’t have it any other way.

The absurdity of this tournament with Cinderella stories and storylines is what makes sports so great; however, many haven’t been following the craziness of college basketball with the stories that have made the entirety of the other months so exciting. For the 68 teams that make the field leading up to selection Sunday, these are the 68 headlines, questions, and characters that are going to define and make 2024 March Madness leading up to the Final Four in Phoenix so great.

  1. This year, there are arguably three powerhouses and then everyone else; that spells CHAOS
  2. The sons that will make you feel old (Jameer Nelson Jr., Andrej Stojakovic, DJ Wagner, Mason Miller, and more)
  3. What coach is going to be ejected for playing on-court defense?
  4. Who will be the coaches that become the new faces of college basketball with no more Coach K, Roy Williams, Jim Boeheim, or Jay Wright?
  5. This is setting up to potentially be a coaching carousel for the ages at major locations if they exit early
  6. With this being a weaker draft class, it’s setting up an easy avenue for surprise playmakers to improve their draft stock
  7. Between Dan Hurley, Bruce Pearl, Tom Izzo, and more, we’ve got some great “screamer” coaches in this field
  8. The royal Pitino family is back in full force
  9. The mascots of the midmajors are setting up for some awesome student section shots (Richmond Spiders, Grand Canyon University Antelopes, Indiana State Sycamores, Loyola Chicago’s Gryffindor attire)
  10. The return of Sister Jean and how many times she’s forced onto the broadcast
  11. Jay Bilas and the court-storming debate is finally put to rest with neutral site games
  12. UConn looks like the most poised to repeat as champion since 06-07. Florida did it
  13. They’re also doing it with an entirely different type of team
  14. Triston Newton is the triple-double king at UConn and could put up some absurd stat lines
  15. Marquette’s prolific offense with point guard Tyler Kolek talking trash and dishing filthy passes
  16. Baylor Scheierman, the Josh Allen-esque shooter and playmaker, and Creighton looking to make a run after a heartbreaking Elite 8 loss last year
  17. Can Shaka Smart finally make a deep tournament run that wasn’t a Cinderella Story at a big program?
  18. Thad Matta has his old-school Ohio State Final Four team, including Greg Oden, on his Butler staff, and it’s a blast from the past
  19. Shaheen Holloway of St. Peter’s fame now has Seton Hall playing as gritty and New Jersey as it gets
  20. Duke is once again the villain now due to court-storming gate with Kyle Filipowski claiming to be injured after getting rushed by Wake Forest fans
  21. RJ Davis is the ultimate playmaker and elite scorer, with Armando Bacot as the old-school center looking for one last ride
  22. No matter what happens to Duke, the anticipation of them getting Cooper Flagg next year marks this as a wash
  23. Will Tony Bennett and Virginia score more than 50 points?
  24. Arizona is still the class of the Pac-12 in the conference’s swan song with an NBA set-up team with elite offensive schemes, but can still lose a random conference game in a similar fashion to losing to Princeton last year
  25. Washington State’s Cinderella run and Myles Rice going from fighting cancer to leading the charge in their backcourt
  26. Caleb Love is still the “No, no, no YES!” loose-cannon point guard that can win or lose the tournament now transferred to Arizona
  27. This Kentucky team is capable of scoring 100 points on a nightly basis with NBA prospect talent, but also has Coach Calipari on the hot seat and breaks your heart just as soon as you start believing in their ceiling
  28. Rob Dillingham went from playing in Kanye West’s DONDA Academy to averaging 15 points per game as an NBA prospect for Kentucky
  29. Dalton Knecht is the transfer of the year and is a Kevin Durant-style, white guy who gives Tennessee an elite offensive threat for the first time in the Rick Barnes era
  30. Will we see the end of the “Rick Barnes in March” curse?
  31. South Carolina went from being projected to finish last in the SEC to making a tournament run with the coach of the year contender LaMont Paris
  32. Alabama is either going to shoot a million threes and free throws and run up the score or be an early exit with the nation’s leading scorer, Mark Sears
  33. Reed Sheppard looks like your next-door neighbor and is suddenly a top NBA draft prospect from a Kentucky athletics royal family
  34. Texas A&M has massively disappointed this season, but Buzz Williams remains the coach that you root for and would run through a brick wall for; you’re rooting for Taylor IV and Radford as an elite backcourt to put it together so the era wasn’t all for naught
  35. Kansas was preseason #1 and had 7 in-conference losses for the first time in history. And looks entirely beatable, but is still Kansas
  36. The possible glorious satisfaction with the wrestling heel, Hunter Dickinson, exiting the tournament early
  37. Houston’s elite defense and backcourt with Jamal Shead and LJ Cryer proved they belonged in a major conference in their Big 12 debut
  38. Kelvin Sampson is looking to cement himself as an elite coach for this era with a deep run
  39. Milan Momcilovic of Iowa State is baby Dirk
  40. BYU is the surprise Big 12 newcomer with Dallin Hall and the old mission trip roster leading Mark Pope’s squad to an efficient, functional offense with 5 shooters
  41. The Horns Down phenomenon that is sweeping the nation rolls on
  42. Baylor’s other-worldly shooting with NBA prospect Ja’Kobe Walter is something to behold
  43. Edgerrin James’ son is at Cincinnati and is named Jizzle James. How awesome is that?
  44. The B1G is trying to end the 23-year championship drought before realignment
  45. The drama surrounding Purdue and the curse of losing to a double-digit seed in the first round again with consensus Wooden Award Winner Zach Edey
  46. There are rumblings that this could be Tom Izzo’s last season at MSU
  47. NEBRASKETBALL is back and has a chance to win their first-ever NCAA tournament game
  48. Keisei Tomanaga is the senior guard out of Japan who’s a headband-wearing, Steph Curry-esque darling bound to shoot a ton of threes and capture your heart
    Photo: Alex Martin / Journal and Courier
  49. Purdue’s flaw last year of having a young, inexperienced backcourt is no longer a problem, with Fletcher Loyer and Braden Smith both averaging double-digits
  50. The controversial absence of Terrence Shannon Jr. forced Coleman Hawkins to step up at Illinois; now they’re back and looking to prove themselves for the first time since 2005
  51. Boo Buie is going to be the star that is looking to slay a dragon in an upset at Northwestern, already defeating Purdue this year
  52. Robbie Avila on Indiana State and all of his nicknames (Larry Nerd, Cream Abdul-Jabbar, Steph Blurry, Rob Wave)
  53. Indiana State’s highly efficient offense
  54. Drake University is playing in honor of the death of their first live mascot, Spike (and Tucker DeVries is a returning 6’7 guard who is thrilling to watch on a team playing for his dad)
  55. Dusty May and FAU are back with the same starting 5 after their Final Four run in their first season in the American Conference
  56. The Mountain West is the most exciting conference you weren’t watching while you were asleep
  57. Gonzaga left the AP Poll for the first time in 2016, but now no longer has the burden of expectations going on a run at the end of the regular season
  58. Grand Canyon University’s fanatic student section
  59. The roller coaster of Penny Hardaway from Memphis going from unranked to top 10, to unranked again, and late-season surging as the closest thing to college basketball’s Deion
  60. DaRon Holmes II is a “Kemba Candidate” taking the Dayton Flyers to new heights as the do-it-all man
  62. This Princeton team is arguably more talented than last year, and they made the Sweet 16 last year after beating Arizona and Missouri
  63. Saint Mary’s defense that will put you, and the other team, asleep is getting hot at the right time once again
  64. Isaiah Stevens at Colorado State’s passing leading to shots is exciting and efficient basketball
  65. The Samford Bulldogs have an entire starting 5 that scores more than 9 points per game and dominates the time of possession
  66. Utah State is a top-25 team after retaining 0 players from last season with a coach named Danny SPRINKLE, and Darius Brown II commands the offense as a floor general
  67. The 20 brackets that you fill out in your pool because certainly one of them HAS to be perfect this year
  68. The thrilling prospect of winning your bracket pool at the office to rub it in someone’s face at the water cooler

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