2022 NCAA Bubble Watch: Teams On The Bubble That Could Make You Money

It is March, which means the madness is officially here! Some smaller leagues have already jumped into their conference tournaments, with leagues like the Northeast and Big South kicking off conference tournament season yesterday. Later today, several more leagues will start their respective tournaments, including the Patriot League, Sun Belt, A-Sun, Horizon League, Ohio Valley, West Coast Conference, and the Missouri Valley Conference.

You wanted madness? The madness is finally here! While personally, I love conference tournament time as it offers some of the highest value betting opportunities of the year on the college hoops hardwood, for most people, all of these league tournaments are just a tease as everyone gears up for the Big Dance later this month, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament!

What makes the league tournaments starting today so intriguing is that we are now getting some quality mid-major conferences in action, where there are legit at-large bid-worthy teams lurking. When a school that wouldn’t normally get a bid to the Big Dance wins their league tournament and gets their pair of dancing shoes, some mid-major conference haters call them bid stealers, as they take away a spot that might have gone to a “more deserving” at-large bid team from a power conference.

Let’s Take A Look At This Scenario
An example of that would be the West Coast Conference, where the nation’s number 1 team, the Gonzaga Bulldogs, play. The Zags are going to hear their names called on Selection Sunday no matter what happens this week in Las Vegas at the WCC tournament, so if the Bulldogs lose, and a team like Santa Clara or BYU wins and punches their dance card, that is one less bid for the rest of bubble teams to fight over.

Breaking down the NCAA tournament bubble is always a lot of fun as you compare various resumes and try to predict which 68 teams the NCAA Selection Committee is going to send to the tournament. And for those of us in the know, we know that the bubble watch starts today, as the bubble is only going to shrink as we get closer and closer to Selection Sunday.

2022 NCAA Bubble Watch: Teams On The Bubble That Could Make You Money

In this article, we are going to take that bubble watch 1 step further, as we are going to highlight 5 on the bubble teams that, if they do find their way into the NCAA tournament, could make you money when they get there. These teams aren’t bubble teams that are going to get in and be one and done. These are the teams that could still be playing on the 2nd weekend of the madness and get you paid along the way.

Do you want to impress all of your friends and win your bracket pool when you pick a double-digit seed that makes it to the Sweet 16? Look no further, as we here at TheSportsGeek have you covered! With that, let’s jump right into it as we head to the state college of New Jersey to check in on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights!

Rutgers Scarlet Knights (17-12)

Last year, the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers fit this mold perfectly as they barely snuck into the NCAA tournament as a 10-seed and then promptly upset the Clemson Tigers in the 1st round of the madness to advance to the 2nd round. Rutgers nearly made it to the Sweet 16, as they gave eventual Final Four team Houston everything that they could handle in the round of 32, losing by just a bucket to the Cougars in a tightly contested game that came down to the wire.

This year, I see the Scarlet Knights taking that a step further, as this is a team that is going to be an exceedingly tough out. Ron Harper Jr reminded everyone that he is one of the most clutch players in the country last night, as he nailed yet another game winner at the buzzer, this time against Indiana, to give Rutgers a much-needed road win.

That win will go a long way into getting the Scarlet Knights into the tournament as the win snapped a 3-game losing streak and gives Rutgers another top-100 win to add to their resume. The reason I am so high on Rutgers is because they have shown the ability to beat elite teams. They have wins over Purdue, Iowa, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Illinois this season. There aren’t many teams in the nation that wouldn’t swap quality wins with Rutgers, and to be honest, I don’t even think they should be considered a bubble team with all of those signature wins on their resume.

The problem for Rutgers is that they have some bad losses that will make the night before Selection Sunday one where they don’t get much sleep. Early season non-conference losses to DePaul, Lafayette, and UMASS are haunting Rutgers, and they wish they had Big 10 losses to teams like Minnesota, Penn State, and Northwestern back as well. A loss in the regular season finale to Penn State and a quick exit in the Big 10 tournament would spell doom for the Scarlet Knights, but I think this team just might be special, and when they do get into the Big Dance, watch out, as nobody is going to want to see them in their bracket!

Dayton Flyers (21-9)

I am not sure why, but the A-10 just isn’t getting a lot of love this season. Several so-called Bracketoligists have the A-10 as a 1-bid league, and I see that as an absolute shame, as this is a quality league, and in a season where power conferences like the ACC and PAC-12 don’t have their typical depth, I say lets the mid-majors into the party!

The league has 6 teams ranked inside of the national top-100, led by the 1st place Davidson Wildcats, and they have another 4 teams ranked in the top-200. That doesn’t make this an elite league, but it does mean that teams playing in the A-10 are going to have to work to pick up wins in league play. One team that I see a lot of upside from in the A-10 is the Dayton Flyers.

The Flyers blew their shot at snagging a piece of the regular season league title when they lost on the road to La Salle last week, a loss that likely shifted them to the wrong side of the bubble. But Dayton will get a chance to redeem themselves on Saturday in the regular season finale, as they host 1st place Davidson, with a chance to add a top-50 win to their resume. That game will have to go the Flyer’s way if they want any shot at an at-large bid, and when I see that the Flyers have won each of their last 7 home games in conference play, I like their chances of taking care of business and getting the win.

The reason I like Dayton’s chances of winning games in the tournament is because they already have several wins over teams that are going to be dancing later this month. Dayton’s win over Kansas in the non-conference showed me that if they play their best, they can beat elite teams. And the wins over Miami, Belmont, Virginia Tech, Saint Louis, VCU, and St. Bonaventure are all solid ones and have the Flyers battle tested as we inch towards the impending madness that is the NCAA tournament.

Dayton plays hard-nosed defense, ranked 33rd in the country in defensive efficiency per Kenpom, and they force some of the longest possessions in the nation. Nobody gets easy good looks up on the Flyers as you have to work for each and every bucket when you play Dayton.

The hardest part for the Flyers is going to be getting into the tournament, as they must beat Davidson and win at least a couple of games in the A-10 conference tournament as well, but I think that they have what it takes to do just that and with wins in 13 of their last 16 games, they have all of the momentum that they need to go on a deep run in the tournament. Keep your eye on the Flyers, as this team is the real deal, despite the lack of attention from the national media.

South Dakota State Jackrabbits (27-4)

Teams playing out of the Summit League very rarely get a look for an at-large bid into the Big Dance, but teams in the Summit League are very rarely as good as this South Dakota State team is this year. The Jackrabbits have made a mockery of the Summit League this season, thrashing the competition enroot to an undefeated 18-0 league record.

We can argue back and forth all day long on whether or not the Jackrabbits should get in as an at-large bid, but at the end of the day, that is going to be an exercise in futility, as they aren’t losing a game in the Summit League tournament anyway, so they are going to be dancing one way or the other later this month. So, we will save our breath on just how the Jackrabbits are going to get their dance card punched and instead focus on what they are capable of once they get into the tournament.

The Next Gonzaga?
This program reminds me a lot of the Gonzaga Bulldogs 15 years ago. They are a small school, playing in a weak league, but they stand out as being better than your typical small conference league champion. SD State has truly separated themselves from the rest of their conference in the last several seasons, and it is just a matter of time until they breakthrough with a deep run in the tournament. Does the slipper fit for South Dakota State?

The SOS is weak because of their bad conference, but the Jackrabbits did what they could in the non-conference, as they played the 64th toughest non-conference slate. Unlike the rest of the teams on this list, we haven’t seen the Jackrabbits beat any elite teams, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t do it given the opportunity. What I love about the Jackrabbits is their fast tempo on offense and their insanely efficient shooting.

Pop quiz, which team in the nation has the highest effective field goal percentage this year? Is it Gonzaga? Purdue? Maybe Duke or Arizona? Nope, it is the South Dakota State Jackrabbits, as they are the only team in the country that shoots an effective field goal percentage of over 60%. This team can fill it up from anywhere on the floor as they are 1st in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage, 10th in 2-point shooting percentage, they make their free throws, and they rarely ever turn the ball over.

When we see teams come out of nowhere as Cinderella’s in the NCAA tournament, it is almost always teams like this that win a high percentage of their games all season long and can shoot the lights out. I don’t care who you are, when you play a team like the Jackrabbits that plays fast and doesn’t miss shots, they can beat you.

Everyone loves to pick 12/5 upsets in the tournament, and with the Jackrabbits hovering right around that 12 line right now, they are going to be a sexy upset pick in the 1st round, and when they are still playing when the 2nd weekend of the madness rolls around, remember you heard it here at TheSportsGeek first!

TCU Horned Frogs (19-9)

One week ago, I would have told you that the TCU Horned Frogs weren’t going to be playing meaningful games in March, as they just didn’t have enough signature wins to justify a tourney bid. But boy, oh boy, has a lot changed since then, as no team in the nation had a better week than the Frogs did last week, with wins over Texas Tech and Kansas. Knocking off top-10 teams back-to-back can work wonders for your NCAA tournament resume, and the Frogs should now safely be on the right side of the bubble.

That being said, TCU still has road trips to Lawrence and Morgantown left on their regular season schedule where they will be underdogs in both games, so they are certainly not completely out of the woods yet. Even if TCU losses both of those games, as long as they win a game in the Big 12 tournament, they should still get in, and that is exactly what I see happening as this team is playing too well right now to be denied.

TCU played an embarrassingly bad non-conference schedule, so when they hit league play in the Big 12 at 10-1, not many people took notice. It is hard to blame people for ignoring the Frog’s wins over the likes of Austin Peay, Southern Miss, Grambling State, and McNeese State, but you can’t ignore TCU’s 8 wins in the Big 12, which just might be the toughest league in the country top to bottom.

All 8 of TCU’s conference wins came over teams ranked in the top-100, with 6 of them coming over the top-50. Throw in a mid-season non-conference win over LSU in the Big 12/SEC showdown, and you have a Horned Frogs team that has shown they can beat some of the best teams in the nation. So, why do I think that TCU can shock the world in March? Hustle.

Nobody ever outworks Jaime Dixon’s team, as they fight for every loose ball, and they crash the offensive boards on every missed shot. TCU leads the nation in offensive rebounding, and there is something to be said for a team that is consistently picking up extra possessions by dominating the offensive glass. Now, to be fair, the Frogs do get so many chances to get offensive boards because they are awful from beyond the arc and at the free throw line, so there are plenty of misses to clean up, but as long as they keep getting the rebounds, those misses aren’t going to hurt them all that bad.

That hustle shines through on defense as well, as TCU is 25th in defensive efficiency. That lockdown D has led to TCU holding teams like Iowa State to 44 points, Kansas State to 57 points, and Oklahoma to 58 points in a game that went into overtime. If the other team can’t score, they can’t win, and that makes TCU a team to keep an eye on as a bubble team that can make you money in March!

Oregon Ducks (18-11)

The final team we are going to take a look at might be the most controversial team on this list, the Oregon Ducks. Why are the Ducks so controversial right now? Well, for one, they can’t stop losing down the stretch, as they have lost 4 of their last 6 games, and secondly, they have a resume that is chalked full of bad losses. Oregon has losses to Arizona State (twice), Stanford, and Cal, all teams that aren’t even sniffing the NCAA tournament bubble right now.

Some of you out there might be wondering why I still like the Ducks, given all of those glaring issues, and I am going to tell you why. Last year, the PAC-12 was written off as the worst of the power conferences but proved that wasn’t the case when the league dominated the NCAA tournament, sending 5 teams to the Sweet 16. This year, outside of the top teams in the league like Arizona, UCLA, and USC, the PAC-12 is again being doubted, and if last year taught us anything, do not sleep on the conference of champions!

The 11 losses for Oregon are going to be tough to overcome, but when you see that many of those losses have come to elite teams, it is hard to be too tough on the Ducks. Oregon has losses to Baylor, Houston, St. Mary’s, and Arizona, all teams that are currently ranked in the top-25, with Baylor and Arizona both in the top-3. Nobody is beating those teams this season, so I won’t spend too much time discounting the Ducks for not beating them either.

What I do see on the Oregon resume is a pair of wins over UCLA, a team that went to the Final Four last year and could do it again this year, as well as quality wins over SMU, USC, Colorado, and Washington State. There are teams with more impressive resumes out there for sure, but what sticks out for me about Oregon is their ability to win games against quality teams away from home. Nobody gets to play a home game in the NCAA tournament, and if you want to win and advance, you have to be able to beat teams without your home court fans in the stands.

Oregon has done an exceptional job of doing just that this season, as their wins over UCLA, USC, Colorado, Utah, and Oregon State all came in true road games. When a team has shown me that they can win on another team’s floor, it tells me that neutral floor games in the NCAA tournament are going to be winnable as well. The Ducks might have to play in a First Four game just to get into the main bracket, but if they get the chance to dance, they are going to surprise a lot of people in the NCAA tournament.

Wrap Up

And there you have it, folks, my picks for NCAA tournament bubble teams that could make you money! With the madness officially underway with many league tournaments kicking off later today, the madness is finally upon us, and that means you need to stay tuned to TheSportsGeek, where our team of expert handicappers give you all of the high value betting advice that you need to make money betting on NCAA Men’s College Basketball. Thanks for reading, and good luck betting on March Madness!

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Jason Gray / Author

Jason is a true Las Vegas insider as he has called the sports betting capital of the world his home for sixteen years. Jason started out his career in gaming by running the biggest poker tournaments in the world and managing some of the biggest sportsbooks on the strip. Jason has transitioned out of casino operations and has been covering sports betting for the sports geek for just over two years. His main focus is on baseball, college basketball, and the NFL

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