The NCAA Tournament, aka March Madness, tips off this week with the Round of 64 sets to get underway on St. Patrick’s Day. The 2022 version of the most-wagered-on bracket of the year will also represent a return to normalcy after cancellation in 2020 and minimal in-person fan interaction a year ago.
Crowds returning to each venue will provide an enhanced atmosphere, but will it affect the outcomes? That remains to be seen, as today we’ll take a holistic view of the tournament from a betting perspective to help you make picks against the spread as the action unfolds.
Here are four of the top seeds to consider fading in the 2022 NCAA Tournament when placing your wagers.
Scott Drew’s group were the last ones standing at the conclusion of the Big Dance in 2021 and will enter this year’s tourney as the No.1 seed in the East region. However, no school has repeated as National Champions since the University of Florida in 2006-07.
In fact, no defending champion has even advanced further than the Sweet 16 over the last 15 years and the last four champs didn’t make it through the first weekend the year after cutting down the nets.
Baylor opens as huge favorites against Norfolk State in the first round, but the Spartans should keep things competitive, boasting the MEAC Player of the Year in Joe Bryant and the conference’s top defense. Should the Bears advance, North Carolina or Marquette will be waiting to pounce against what should be another hefty line.
No team has ever won the NCAA Tournament after being eliminated in the first round of their own conference tournament. And that’s exactly the odds that are stacked against the Tigers (Add Baylor, Wisconsin, and Illinois to this mix as well) after Auburn fell to Texas A&M last Friday.
This is a team that was ranked No.1 overall at points during the regular season but slipped to the 2-line after their early exit last week. The Tigers were once 22-1 and undefeated in SEC play, but finished up-and-down during the transition from February to March, going just 5-4 in their final nine games.
Auburn will face a lethal outside-shooting team in Jacksonville State, laying just 15-16 points in the opening round.
Before you roll your eyes, we’re not suggesting that Gonzaga will bow out early of this year’s tournament. This team has a lot to prove with revenge on their mind after getting dominated by Baylor last April.
They are the top overall seed in the field after all. But therein lies the problem. The NCAA began ranking the seeds back in 2004, and since then, only three of the schools ranked as the top overall seed in the bracket won it all and it hasn’t happened since 2013. Four such teams never made it past the first weekend.
The Zags are the heaviest favorite on the board in the Round of 64. DraftKings is even giving away free money on their opening matchup Moneyline. Just be careful of blindly tailing the entire way with history clearly not on their side.
Despite what we’ve already written, this committee still believes the teams above will win on Thursday or Friday and are picking as such in their brackets. But such is not the case for the final team on our list, the Providence Friars.
Yes, Providence had a great regular season and will enter the tournament with one of the more experienced rosters in the entire field, generally an advantage. However, the top seed in the Big East got blown out by Creighton in the second round of the conference tourney and now faces the school that scored the most points in the entire country this season, the Jackrabbits of South Dakota State.
The Friars are favored by just 2 points in this one, crazy when you consider this is a 13-4 matchup.
Watch out for the Jackrabbits, and enjoy the tournament.