NCAAB: What Michigan college hoops programs have a shot at March Madness?

darren cooper
Darren Cooper
NCAA Basketball Sports News


  • Selection Sunday for the 68-team NCAA Tournament bracket is Sunday, March 17.
  • The state of Michigan has seven Division 1 college basketball teams, two of them have a shot at making the field, and one might not be who you think.
  • Michigan sportsbooks will have markets and odds on every conference tournament and NCAA Tournament game all March.

In the college basketball season, we have reached the time of the Bubble.

The Bubble is the term given to teams that are on the fringe (or not) of reaching the NCAA Tournament. When the Bubble pops, they’re out, or sometimes the Bubble gets so crowded and they slide off.

Michigan sportsbooks like FanDuel and DraftKings will have markets on The Bubble leading into Selection Sunday, which team will get in and which teams won’t. Both sportsbooks will have markets on the outcome of every game and future bets on who will be the national champion. Let’s look at where all seven Michigan basketball programs stand in relation to the Bubble.

Not On The Bubble. Maybe. Probably 

After falling to No. 2 Purdue over the weekend, Michigan State is 17-12 and just 9-9 in the Big Ten. The Spartans have lost three in a row with two more regular season games left, home for a good Northwestern team and at Indiana. Then the Big Ten tournament.

Michigan State has made a Big Ten record 25 straight NCAA Tournaments and the good news is the computers love the Spartans because of their brutal non-conference schedule.

But it’s starting to get a little scary for State, because if they lose out and finish 17-15, that streak could end. They probably only need one more win, but there’s no gimmes left on the schedule.

The Ultimate Bubble Team 

The second-best college basketball team in the state of Michigan is the Oakland Golden Grizzlies. Yes, Oakland is a school in Rochester, Michigan and they won the Horizon League regular season title and are the top seed in the conference tournament.

It’s their first conference title since they joined the Horizon League in 2014 and they haven’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2011. They’re led by local product Trey Townsend and his 16.6 points a game.

But Horizon League teams don’t get at-large bids. The Golden Grizzlies will need to win the conference tournament next week, and maybe have to beat second-place Youngstown State for a third time to do so.

The Bubble Popped Already 

Michigan has three solid programs in the MAC, but only one has a winning record: Central Michigan is 16-13 overall but fourth in the MAC, and will need a miracle run to make it to the NCAA Tournament. An NIT bid is not out of the question.

Western Michigan has been better in the MAC at 8-8, but is only 11-18 overall. They’d also need a miracle run to make it to the Big Dance.

Eastern Michigan has the leading scorer in the MAC in Tyson Acuff (21.7 points per game), but they’re way back in the MAC standings.

Michigan has completely fallen apart as a basketball program (good thing the football team was so good). The Wolverines are last in the Big 10 and this will probably be the last season for coach Juwan Howard.

But even so, the Wolverines don’t have the worst record of any team in the state. The University of Detroit Mercy is 1-30 and finished last in the Horizon League. They’d be the greatest Cinderella story ever.

Born and raised in Louisiana, Darren Cooper has a fond appreciation for bayous, Mardi Gras beads and the sports betting industry. Darren has worked for multiple print and online publications since 1998, primarily as a sports columnist in the Northeast. He’s covered a Super Bowl (it was a blowout), the World Series (same) and the NBA Draft (man, those guys are tall). For the last few years he’s dug deep into the sports gambling industry as it exploded across America, learning how the legal sausage is made and how while all the sportsbooks look the same, they all have different identities and styles. He’s learned to always bet within his means -- and take the under. When not in front of his computer creating, Darren spends time with his three boys. He runs, reads and is always looking for the next big thing to write about.