The 5 Worst At-Large Teams in the 2024 NCAA Tournament

Riley Thomas
Riley Thomas_riley8
The 5 Worst At-Large Teams in the 2024 NCAA Tournament

The 2024 NCAA Tournament's field of 68 teams is set. This always generates some debate, whether it be controversial seedings or at-large bids. Several Big East squads -- such as St. John's and Seton Hall felt like snubs -- which led to several questionable teams making the field.

Utilizing numberFire's ratings, let's look at the lowest-ranked teams to earn at-large bids for the NCAA Tournament. Were these squads deserving of tournament bids? Do they have any chance of advancing in the Big Dance?

Let's check out the five worst at-large teams in the 2024 NCAA Tournament and preview each team's college basketball odds via FanDuel Sportsbook.

Worst At-Large Teams in the NCAA Tournament

5. Utah State Aggies

numberFire Rating: 10.50 (47th)

The Mountain West earned six tournament bids, which is the most in the conference's history. Colorado State and Boise State are slotted for the First Four games, but believe it or not -- Utah State is the lowest-ranked team in the Big Dance from the Mountain West, according to numberFire's rating as well as KenPom and Bart Torvik.

FanDuel Sportsbook's college basketball odds have listed the Aggies as an early 3.5-point underdog for their first-round matchup against TCU. Even with a first-round win, Utah State would likely get a second-round matchup against Purdue, who is numberFire's second-best team nationally. As the No. 1 seed in the Mountain West Tournament, the Aggies had a rather disappointing showing with a second-round loss against San Diego State.

Coming off a 16-point loss while touting KenPom's 68th-best adjusted defensive efficiency, Utah State could be poised for an early exit.

4. Texas A&M Aggies

numberFire Rating: 10.20 (48th)

Texas A&M was viewed as a bubble team ahead of the SEC Tournament, but a 10-point win over Kentucky likely punched the Aggies' ticket to the Big Dance. A&M earned a No. 9 seed and will face 8-seeded Nebraska in the first round.

Similar to Utah State, the Aggies are also underdogs for their first-round matchup. Texas A&M is a 2.5-point underdog and are nearly 20 spots behind Nebraska numberFire rankings.

The Aggies have shot only 39.9% from the field this season (bottom 4%). Texas A&M must find a way to stay efficient in the tournament. After making 19 of their last 47 three-point attempts (40.4%), the Aggies could have some hope if they can keep shooting that well.

3. Northwestern Wildcats

numberFire Rating: 9.92 (50th)

One of the clear trends for this year's field is 8 and 9 seeds tout some of the worst marks in numberFire's ratings among the at-large squads. Northwestern is yet another team that fits this criteria. The Wildcats own the third-worst rating among at-large squads yet have a 9 seed.

Northwestern also got a pretty tough pull against 8 seed Florida Atlantic, who -- of course -- made an improbable run to the Final Four in 2023. The Wildcats are 1.5-point underdogs for the first round. Northwestern isn't playing their best ball either, with a 1-3 record over their last four games.

Perhaps defense will be the Wildcats' biggest concern as three of their last four opponents have shot better than 45% from the floor, and Northwestern ranks 72nd in adjusted defensive efficiency.

2. South Carolina Gamecocks

numberFire Rating: 9.42 (52nd)

South Carolina is a team that seemingly came out of nowhere this season. The Gamecocks shot up the rankings after starting SEC play with a 9-2 record. This was truly a hard team to gauge all season as they continued to win, yet various metrics suggested that they were closer to mediocre.

This still rings true headed into the NCAA Tournament. South Carolina has the second-worst numberFire rating among at-large bids, and they are fresh off a 31-point loss against Auburn in the SEC Tournament.

Even as a 6 seed, the Gamecocks are only favored by 1.5 points against No. 11 Oregon. South Carolina's metrics still look quite meh as they are 46th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 54th in adjusted defensive efficiency.

1. Virginia Cavaliers

numberFire Rating: 8.14 (68th)

Virginia is the worst at-large team in numberFire's ratings by a large margin (by more than 15 spots). The same issues have plagued the Cavaliers for nearly the entire season. They can defend at a high level -- KenPom's 7th-best defense -- but Virginia ranks 194th in adjusted offensive efficiency.

The Cavaliers sit in the bottom 3% in points per game (PPG) and in the bottom 30% in field goal percentage (FG%). Virginia is a 1.5-point underdog in the First Four against Colorado State. The Rams rank 25th in adjusted offensive efficiency while sitting in the top 100 of PPG. The Cavaliers' scoring struggles could end their tournament run before the first round of play.

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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.