2022 NCAA Tournament Bubble Watch: Who’s In? Who’s Out?
Selection Sunday for the 2022 NCAA Tournament is just days away. For national title contenders like Gonzaga, Arizona, Baylor, Kansas, Auburn, Kentucky, Duke, and Purdue, their place in the Big Dance is already set in stone. Those teams sit atop the March Madness odds and are poised to be the teams that occupy the #1 and #2 seed lines come Selection Sunday.
Several others have played their way into the field of 68 over the past several days, including Chattanooga, who stunned Furman with a last-second buzzer-beater to win the Southern Conference’s automatic bid on Monday night.
And over the course of the coming days, several teams will be attempting to play their way into the March Madness field, whether by securing an automatic bid or winning enough to move themselves squarely on the right side of the NCAA Tournament bubble.
Are Memphis and Michigan Off of the March Madness Bubble?
Entering this season, both Memphis and Michigan had high, high hopes. The Wolverines were penciled in as a potential Final Four team after just missing out last season, while Penny Hardaway’s Tigers were expected to make a big breakthrough this season after adding elite recruits Emoni Bates and Jalen Duren.
But both teams struggled to live up to those expectations in a major way.
Tigers Turn It Around After Tirade
Memphis started 5-0 and moved into the top 10, but a loss to Iowa State was the beginning of a major slide. The Tigers dropped eight of 12 games, and after a 70-62 home loss to SMU on January 20, were 9-8 overall and 3-4 in the AAC.
Following that loss, a frustrated Penny unleashed a rant against the media that may live long in Memphis lore.
Since that rant, the Tigers are 10-1, with their only loss coming in the rematch at SMU. In that stretch, Memphis has won home and away against Houston, the conference’s regular season champion. This past Sunday, the Tigers brushed aside the Cougars 75-61 to close out the regular season and likely all but lock down the program’s first NCAA Tournament berth since 2014.
In their hot streak, the Tigers have held opponents to under 65 points seven times in 11 games. In their two wins over Houston, Memphis held the Cougars well below their season scoring average (75.4 PPG) and forced a combined 39 turnovers. That kind of defensive success could help them make it to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament.
Inconsistent Wolverines in the Field After Stunning Rivalry Win
Michigan, meanwhile, suffered early losses to Seton Hall, Arizona, and North Carolina. Those losses are one thing, but they then lost at home to Minnesota early in Big Ten play and at UCF to close out 2021.
They have struggled for consistency all season long, not winning more than two games in a row at any point.
But even with head coach Juwan Howard suspended for the final five games of the regular season, the Wolverines have cobbled together enough wins to move away from the bubble.
On Sunday, they went into Columbus and won at Ohio State without big man Hunter Dickinson (stomach ailment). That win secured a winning record in Big Ten play, and they head into their Big Ten Tournament matchup with Indiana safely in the field as it stands and with Howard set to return to the sideline after serving out his suspension.
So, the outlook is positive at the moment for both Memphis and Michigan, both of whom look like potential March Madness sleepers as dangerous double-digit seeds.
But things do not look as rosy or secure for several teams as we hit the final few days before Selection Sunday. BetOnline Sportsbook is offering odds on whether a number of bubble teams will make the NCAA Tournament.
Below, we take a look at one of those teams, their odds to make the tournament, and the outlook for their hopes.
Dayton Flyers (22-9, 14-4 Atlantic 10, 3rd in A-10)
Odds to Make the 2022 NCAA Tournament
- Yes: +182
- No: -250
Bracketology (as of Tuesday, March 8)
- ESPN: “First Four Out”
- CBS: outside of “First Four Out”
- Bleacher Report: outside of “First Four Out”
Anthony Grant’s Flyers have one of the best wins of any bubble team, a thrilling one-point win over Kansas the day after Thanksgiving.
Dayton also started 1-3 with losses to UMass-Lowell, Lipscomb, and Austin Peay, and suffered one-point losses at George Mason and LaSalle, both of whom have losing records on the season.
But the Flyers have been hot for the most part at the right time, winning 10 of their last 12 games. That includes an 82-76 win on Sunday against A-10 regular season champs Davidson.
However, that bounce going their way against Kansas and this late surge will likely count for nothing if they are unable to make a deep run in the A-10 tourney. Seven of Dayton’s nine losses are Q2, Q3, or Q4, and their NET sits at 52 as of today. The win over Kansas is great, but there is not much besides it.
Fortunately, there are several teams in a precarious position ahead of them. And if just a few of them lose before the weekend, Dayton could land in the NCAA Tournament even if they don’t win the A-10’s auto bid.
Other Listed NCAA Tournament Bubble Teams
Florida Gators (Odds to Make the 2022 NCAA Tournament – Yes: +390, No: -650)
The Gators (19-12, 9-9 SEC) missed an opportunity to help their case on Saturday as they lost at home to rival Kentucky to close out the regular season. Florida was one of five teams to finish at 9-9 in the SEC standings, which is good for a tie for fifth but is short of what they needed to not require at least two wins in the SEC Tournament.
The Gators open play in Tampa against #8 seed Texas A&M, an unexpected late entrant to the bubble watch. The team that loses that game will be out of NCAA Tournament contention, while the winner will move on to face regular season champs Auburn in Friday’s quarters.
Would wins over Texas A&M and Auburn be enough to get the Gators into the field of 68? It’s possible, but wins over A&M, Auburn, and #4 seed Arkansas or #5 seed LSU in the semis would make it hard to keep them out.
Indiana Hoosiers (Odds to Make the 2022 NCAA Tournament – Yes: +240, No: -350)
Like Florida, Indiana (18-12, 9-11) is the ninth seed in its conference tournament. And like the Gators, the Hoosiers didn’t help themselves when they had the opportunity to.
Last week’s losses, a three-point home loss to fellow NCAA Tournament bubble team Rutgers and a two-point loss at Purdue, were both decided in the final seconds. And as has been the case far too many times this season, the Hoosiers couldn’t get the job done in the late stages.
There have been some positive moments in Mike Woodson’s first season as head coach. Indiana beat Ohio State and Purdue at home, and they also beat Notre Dame in non-conference play.
But while their NET sits at 43 entering today, their non-conference schedule was fairly weak overall, and they enter the Big Ten tourney with seven losses in their past nine games. When they were 16-5 overall and 7-4 in the Big Ten, they were staring at a pretty good seed.
Their only wins since were against Maryland at home and Minnesota on the road, so it is no surprise that they are on the outside looking in at both ESPN (first team out) and CBS (fourth team out).
If Indiana can beat Michigan in their Big Ten tourney opener, they will face #1 seed Illinois on Friday. Win those two games, and they will be in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2016. Win one and keep it close against Illinois, and they will have some reason to tune in to the selection show with. But if they lose on Thursday, the NIT beckons.
Who Else Is on the NCAA Tournament Bubble?
Will Virginia, Virginia Tech & Wake Forest Make the Field of 68?
Wake Forest (23-9, 13-7 ACC, 5th in the ACC, 44 NET)
Wake Forest’s hopes took a major hit with a loss to Boston College in the ACC Tournament on Wednesday. The Demon Deacons (23-9, 13-7 ACC) have a lot of wins, and Steve Forbes has done a great job in getting a proud program back to winning ways.
But Wake’s resume is not overly impressive, and their non-conference schedule ranks as one of the weakest in all of Division I. They were already a double-digit seed before their loss to the Eagles, and bowing out to BC while other teams around or behind them are still standing will leave them sweating them on Selection Sunday.
However, they won at both Virginia and Virginia Tech this season (in their only meetings with each team) and finished above the Cavaliers and Hokies in the standings. If one or both of those teams get in and Wake Forest doesn’t, it will be a tough pill for the Demon Deacons to swallow.
Virginia (19-12, 12-8 ACC, 6th in the ACC, 79 NET)
Virginia is still in contention after defeating Louisville in their ACC Tournament opener yesterday. But they will need to beat North Carolina today in order to keep that hope alive.
The Cavaliers swept Miami, who is safely in the field, beat Big East regular season champs Providence, and won at Duke. But their NET is close to 80, and while Rutgers is poised to get in with a NET in that range, the Scarlet Knights also have better wins and a better conference finish in a tougher conference.
A win over UNC is unlikely to be enough, but if the Cavaliers can follow that up by beating either Notre Dame or Virginia Tech in Friday’s semifinals and put in a good performance in Saturday’s championship game, they could very well leapfrog a few other nervous teams.
Virginia Tech (20-12, 11-9 ACC, 7th in the ACC, 36 NET)
Of the three ACC bubble teams, Virginia Tech has the highest NET but the worst conference record. They also have the toughest non-conference schedule among the trio, but that doesn’t really count for much when their non-con sched ranks 180th and they lost their toughest games out of conference.
The Hokies also had the second-weakest conference schedule (Notre Dame’s was the weakest), and their most notable wins were home wins over Notre Dame and Virginia and a road win at Miami.
As a result, they are not in the field at the moment and not even in the “First Four Out” at either ESPN or CBS as of Thursday morning.
But the Hokies are still in the mix, thanks to Darius Maddox’s buzzer-beating, season-saving three to see off Clemson in overtime yesterday.
The Hokies take on Notre Dame in the quarterfinals today, and they need to beat the Irish and win their semifinal matchup to move closer to the field. But if too many of the group of Dayton, Florida, Indiana, Rutgers, SMU, and Texas A&M stick around into the weekend as well, Virginia Tech will need to win the auto bid to get in. As it is, they may need to do that anyway.
Eddie Griffin has been writing about and betting on sports for over a decade and has been with Betting News since 2021. For more of his thoughts on sports and sports betting, you can follow him on X, formerly known as Twitter.
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