Check out the 10 mid-major teams most likely to receive at-large bids to the 2022 NCAA Tournament.
We’re entering the conference portion of the ’21-22 college basketball season nationwide and several mid-majors are still in the tournament hunt.
Below we’ve identified (and ranked) the 10 mid-major teams with the best chances at receiving an at-large bid to the 2022 NCAA Tournament come Selection Sunday.
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1. Colorado State Rams (10-0)
The only thing that seems capable of stopping Colorado State this season, unfortunately, is COVID-19. The Rams raced out to a 10-0 start but haven’t played since their Dec. 11 win against Mississippi State in Fort Worth, Texas, canceling a showdown with Alabama in the process. Niko Medved’s crew is one of the nation’s best offensive teams and already owns wins over Creighton and Saint Mary’s. Only a major collapse could prevent a tournament bid.
2. BYU Cougars (12-3)
Gavin Baxter‘s season-ending injury certainly limits BYU’s ceiling but the Cougars are a likely at-large contender regardless. BYU’s notable wins so far include San Diego State, Oregon, Utah, Utah State and Missouri State. Likely to finish no worse than third or fourth in the improved WCC, it would be a major surprise if BYU doesn’t hear its name called on March 13.
3. Davidson Wildcats (10-2)
While St. Bonaventure and Richmond gained most of the preseason A10 hype, Davidson has the clear-cut advantage in tournament hopes. Bob McKillop‘s team has a signature, neutral-site win over Final Four contender Alabama that could be the difference come Selection Sunday. Now the A10 favorite, per KenPom, the sharpshooting Wildcats control their own destiny for a tournament bid.
4. Loyola Chicago Ramblers (9-2)
Yet again, Loyola Chicago is an analytics darling. After finishing last season 10th in KenPom, first-year head coach Drew Valentine‘s Ramblers are up to a season-best 22nd in KenPom through 11 games. Although the team’s best win to this point is over an unlikely NCAA Tournament candidate in Vanderbilt, Loyola should be favored in every remaining game. A gaudy win-loss record and strong metrics should lead to a tournament ticket come March.
5. San Diego State Aztecs (9-3)
While the Aztecs haven’t looked quite as dominant as the previous two seasons, the smart money says SDSU still has decent at-large hopes. Each of its three losses — BYU, USC and Michigan — are against likely tournament teams and plenty of quality wins should come in Mountain West play. Avoiding detrimental losses against the league’s bottom half will be pivotal for the defense-first Aztecs.
6. San Francisco Dons (13-1)
Top 40 in both NET and KenPom, San Francisco is already in at-large position through 14 games. A massive opportunity awaits Thursday against Loyola Chicago, a last-second matchup that will take place in Salt Lake City. The Ramblers are the second-best team on USF’s schedule all year and provide a rare Quad-1 chance. A little breathing room would be nice with at least a few losses expected to come in the top-heavy WCC.
7. Saint Mary’s Gaels (12-3)
The Gaels have dropped arguably their three toughest games of the season (Wisconsin, Colorado State and San Diego State) but still have a pathway towards at-large contention with a strong WCC performance. Picking up a couple wins in five combined matchups vs. Gonzaga, BYU and San Francisco should do the trick. The Gaels will probably be bubbly no matter what come Selection Sunday, so taking care of business against weaker competition and notching an upset or two could be the difference.
8. Belmont Bruins (10-3)
A loss to a team not named Murray State would probably be the death of Belmont’s at-large hopes. Fortunately for the Bruins, they should be a landslide favorite every other night the rest of the season. Currently 54th in KenPom and 36th in NET, don’t be surprised if a 5/6-loss Belmont squad is knocking on the door come March like it did in 2019.
9. UAB Blazers (12-3)
The Conference USA hasn’t notched multiple bids since 2012 but a trio of contenders in UAB, Louisiana Tech and North Texas could end the drought. The Blazers are top 50 most metrics, including NET, and have a quality road win over Saint Louis. If Andy Kennedy‘s squad can roll through league play, an at-large bid could be a reality.
10. Iona Gaels (11-2)
Iona is banking on being near-perfect the rest of the way to stay in the tournament hunt. A neutral-site win over Alabama positions the Gaels for contention but any defeats the rest of the way would be massively detrimental. Like the Conference USA, the MAAC hasn’t had multiple bids since 2012. Rick Pitino‘s bunch can’t afford any mistakes.
Others to monitor: Wyoming, St. Bonaventure, Murray State, Saint Louis, Grand Canyon, Boise State