These 4 MA College Basketball Teams Have A Shot To Make March Madness

Written By Cheryl Coward on March 4, 2023 - Last Updated on March 9, 2023
Massachusetts college basketball teams with shot to make March Madness, from playma.com

For the most part, Massachusetts residents can’t bet on in-state college sports teams.

The exception? If that Massachusetts college is playing in a tournament with at least four teams. Yes, that includes March Madness — the second-biggest US sports betting event behind the Super Bowl.

But, in order for MA bettors to back in-state teams in March Madness betting

… There have to actually be teams from Massachusetts in March Madness.

And that is by no means a guarantee this year.

Can’t bank on March Madness at-large bids in Massachusetts

Boston College had rough years on both the men’s and women’s side. UMass women’s basketball won the regular season conference title, but it will be on the bubble if it doesn’t win the conference tournament. So no guarantee for at-large bids.

That means a MA college basketball team will likely have to win its conference tournament in order to make the NCAA Tournament — which means March 14 for the men and March 15 for the women. The NCAA announces the brackets for March Madness on Selection Sunday, March 12.

  • Men: 6 p.m. ET on CBS        
  • Women: 8 p. ET on ESPN

DraftKings, BetMGM and FanDuel are all offering pre-launch promos, if you want to sign up now to bet all set for March Madness betting.

Since conference tournaments involve more than four teams, the in-state college team betting ban doesn’t apply. So Massachusetts sportsbooks at the state’s three casinos will offer odds for in-state teams.

Here’s the list of college basketball teams in Massachusetts with real shots to earn a ticket to the Big Dance.

Men’s teams

UMass Lowell (America East)

The UMass Lowell River Hawks finished the regular season with a perfect home record (15-0) and second place in the America East. With a 24-7 overall record and an 11-5 mark in the conference standings, the River Hawks got the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament.

Vermont is the No. 1 seed. UMass Lowell and Vermont split their regular-season series.

River Hawks head coach Pat Duquette was named the conference’s coach of the year, and graduate student Everette Hammond was elected to the All-Conference team.

UMass Lowell began postseason play Saturday by beating No. 7-seeded Maine. Up next, the River Hawks play No. 3 New Hampshire on Tuesday in the semifinals.

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Merrimack (NEC)

With one year remaining in its transition to full Division I status, the Merrimack Warriors are seeing great success in men’s and women’s basketball. But, as it’s still not fully Division I, Merrimack cannot qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

Still, on the men’s side, the Warriors had a fantastic year, earning the Northeast Conference regular season title and seven postseason conference awards. Heading into the NEC tournament, the Warriors have a 16-16, 12-4 NEC record.

The Warriors are the No. 1 seed in the NEC tournament and beat No. 4 Sacred Heart in the semifinals on Saturday. Their NEC championship game against No. 2 seed Farleigh Dickinson is Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET. It will be aired on ESPN2 and streamed on ESPN3.

Merrimack lost both regular-season games to Farleigh Dickinson.

Women’s teams

UMass (Atlantic 10)

The UMass Minutewomen dominated the Atlantic 10 this season, finishing first in the conference with a 14-2 league record and a 25-5 mark overall. The top seed in the A-10 tournament started the postseason on a high note, beating No. 9 seed George Mason 63-50. The weekend brings the semifinals and championship, with the title game set to air at noon Sunday on ESPNU.

The Minutewomen beat Richmond in the semifinals Saturday, and they’re playing St. Louis in the title game Sunday.

UMass would love to win the A-10 tournament. Otherwise, it will really be sweating it out on Selection Sunday. With a NET ranking of 58 entering the weekend, it would likely be on the outside looking in for a March Madness at-large berth.

Currently, ESPN bracketology has UMass beginning the NCAA Tournament in the Seattle Region as a No. 13 seed.

Fun fact: The current commissioner of the Mountain West Conference, Gloria Nevarez, is a former UMass women’s basketball player. She is the first Latina to be named the head of a major conference and previously was the commissioner of the West Coast Conference. It would be fun to see nationally ranked WCC team Gonzaga meet the Minutewomen in the NCAA Tournament.

Merrimack (NEC)

Merrimack women’s basketball finished the regular season with a 14-15, 10-6 NEC record, which gives it the No. 3 seed entering the conference tournament. However, just like the men’s team, Merrimack women’s basketball still has one year left in its transition to Division I status. So, even if it wins the league tournament, it can’t play in March Madness.

As top seeds host games in the tournament, the Warriors get to play at home when they begin the tournament. Merrimack starts postseason play Monday in the NEC quarterfinals against No. 6 seed Saint Francis University (PA).

Merrimack went 2-0 against No. 2 seed Sacred Heart and 0-2 against No. 1 seed Fairleigh Dickinson in the regular season.

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Boston University (Patriot)

Under second-year head coach Melissa Graves, the Boston University Terriers ran through the Patriot League and finished with an overall record of 22-7 and 17-1 in conference play. Graves, the Patriot League Coach of the Year, will guide the regular-season champion team in the Patriot League tournament, which begins Monday in the quarterfinal round against No. 9 Loyola Maryland or No. 8 Lafayette.

As well as it played in the regular season, BU would not get an at-large bid if it doesn’t win the Patriot League tournament.

ESPN bracketology has BU beginning the NCAA Tournament as a No. 14 seed in the Greenville region.

Holy Cross (Patriot)

Holy Cross finished second in the Patriot League behind BU. The Crusaders finished the regular season with a 21-8, 13-5 Patriot record. They capped their season with a great win, beating BU 57-53 at home. BU won their first matchup on Feb. 15, 66-59.

Like BU, Holy Cross begins its postseason run on Monday. The Crusaders will play No. 10 Navy or No. 7 American at 5 p.m. The game will air on ESPN+.

Given how the Holy Cross and BU women competed in the regular season, the Patriot League tournament may be the most exciting one to watch among the league championships.

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Photo by AP/Michael Caterina
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Cheryl Coward

Cheryl Coward is a Staff Writer for PlayMA with a background in sports journalism. She started her career as a news reporter in Washington, DC. She's a die-hard women's basketball fanatic and founded the website Hoopfeed.com as a result of that passion. She has previous experience covering gambling and sports betting in California, including extensive coverage of the Prop 26 vs. Prop 27 election battle.

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