The first live action of the 2022 NCAA Tournament tips off March 15 in Dayton, Ohio. However, March Madness has already begun for a number of teams vying for one of the final spots in the tournament field. DraftKings Sportsbook has posted odds to make the NCAA Tournament for seven teams on the bubble looking to make one final push to the Big Dance.
Teams on the bubble don’t have the luxury of waiting until mid-March to display their best stuff. Punching a ticket to the NCAA Tournament requires a strong showing in the conference tournament. This final stretch before March Madness officially starts can be every bit as riveting as what fans and bettors will witness into April.
DraftKings’ Odds To Make NCAA Tournament
DraftKings is offering odds on seven teams on the cusp of qualifying for the 68-team field: Creighton, Florida, Indiana, Memphis, Michigan, SMU, and VCU.
Barring a conference tournament championship, there’s no formula to determine whether or not these schools receive an invitation to the NCAA Tournament. Among the factors the selection committee consider are strength of schedule, quality wins, recent form, and the list goes on. For some teams on the bubble, winning their conference tournament may be their final hope.
Here’s a look at the odds, listed in order of likeliest to make the tournament, per the betting lines.
Memphis (19-9, 13-5 American Athletic)
Memphis owns wins against three ranked opponents — including a pair against conference foe Houston. But the American Athletic Conference tournament is key for the Wildcats. A loss to the winner of the UCF vs. South Florida first-round matchup would be particularly damaging for Memphis. Still, short of an unexpected stumble in their opening tilt, Memphis’ season should continue into mid-March.
Creighton (20-10, 12-7 Big East)
The Blue Jays have a number of quality wins, including four against ranked opponents. They earned a bye through to the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament, where they’ll face Marquette. A quarterfinal defeat would lengthen Creighton’s chances to qualify and turn Selection Sunday into a nail-biter. However, they’re 2-0 against the Golden Eagles this season. A win or two may be what Creighton needs to punch its ticket.
Michigan (17-13, 11-9 Big Ten)
Michigan opens the conference tournament against Indiana, and the loser may be destined for a second-tier postseason tourney. The Wolverines handled the Hoosiers with relative ease on the road at Assembly Hall in January, winning 80-62. While the Hoosiers have fizzled over their last nine, the Wolverines have alternated wins and losses over that same stretch. With a win, Michigan, whose coach Juwan Howard has been reinstated after a suspension, would earn a third shot at Illinois, and the opportunity to bolster its resume.
SMU (22-7, 13-4 American Athletic)
SMU earned the No. 2 seed in the AAC, knocking off fellow bubble team Memphis twice in conference play. However, their path to the NCAA Tournament appears murkier than the Wildcats’. A quarterfinal victory is key, and it could set the stage for a third meeting with Memphis.
Indiana (18-12, 9-11 Big Ten)
A sub-.500 conference mark and 2-7 finish to the regular season leave the Hoosiers on the outside looking in. They’ll kick off the Big Ten tournament against Michigan, another team squarely on the bubble. A loss in the opening round will relegate Indiana into the NIT discussion. However, advancing beyond the Wolverines will put the Hoosiers in position to land another quality win or two. The odds are stacked against Indiana, but they still have a pulse. For now.
VCU (21-8, 14-4 Atlantic 10)
VCU has been all over the map in terms of tournament projections, which can’t make the Rams faithful comfortable. They’re in the midst of an 8-1 run, and they’ll join their conference tournament in the quarterfinal round. The Atlantic 10 doesn’t typically send more than two teams to the NCAA Tournament. Winning the conference’s automatic bid could be the Rams’ best pathway into March Madness.
Florida (19-12, 9-9 SEC)
Priced at a longish 5-to-1 odds for a March Madness invite, Florida likely needs two or three wins in the SEC tournament to get in. As the No. 9 seed, that’s a tough ask. Texas A&M is up first, with a date against No. 1 seed Auburn awaiting the winner. A Feb. 19 win against the Tigers, the No. 2 team in the nation, is a bright spot on the Gators’ resume, but they’ll need to do more to go dancing.