News & Politics

A DMV Sportsfan’s Guide to the NCAA Tournament

Those looking for home teams to root for will find more options in the women's tournament.

Maryland cheerleaders perform back flips during a Big Ten Tournament college basketball game between the Indiana Hoosiers and the Maryland Terrapins on March 4, 2022 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. (Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire) (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)

As Washington-area sports fans fill out their 2022 March Madness brackets, locals will find that their best opportunities to cheer on home teams will be in the women’s tournament. 

This year’s NCAA women’s basketball tournament features a handful of DMV programs—including one with the region’s top shot at a Final Four run. Here’s a look at the women’s teams for locals to root for:

University of Maryland: As the No. 4 seed in the West Region, the Terps have a 40-1 chance at winning a national championship this year, according to ESPN. That’s the best odds of any local team. Maryland’s first step toward a title will come at 5 PM Friday when they take on Delaware. And since the game will be played at Maryland’s home stadium, the Xfinity Center in College Park, the Terps should enjoy an extra boost from the friendly crowd.

American University: The outlook isn’t as favorable for American University. After earning a No. 14 seed in the Midwest region, the Eagles must travel to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where at 3:30 PM on Saturday they will face off against the University of Michigan. It’s a tough draw for the Eagles; the 3-seeded Wolverines have a nearly 82 percent chance of winning the game, according to ESPN. 

Howard University: After notching their first-ever March Madness victory in Wednesday’s play-in game, the No. 16-seeded Howard Bison are set to play South Carolina, the top-seeded team in the South region, on Friday. With the game being played in Columbia, S.C., the odds are stacked against Howard. ESPN gives South Carolina a more than 98 percent chance of winning. 

Over on the men’s side, this year’s NCAA basketball tournament will have little in the way of home teams to support. As the Washington Post noted, neither of the DMV’s traditional March Madness mainstays—Georgetown and Maryland—nor any of the various other local university programs managed to earn a bracket slot this year. That means that DMV sports fans looking to root for a nearby university will have to expand their geographic purview even farther. With that caveat, here’s a look at the men’s teams for locals to root for:

Virginia Tech: As the No. 11 seed in the East Region, the Hokies will take on the No. 6 seeded Texas Longhorns in the first round of the tournament on Friday. Despite the seeding differential, the Hokies—who surprised the college basketball world by winning the ACC championship on Saturday—are only a  slight underdog against Texas. If you’re looking for a (somewhat) nearby men’s team with a shot a making a Final Four run, Virginia Tech is your squad.

University of Richmond: Another team that falls inside these expanded geographic parameters is the Richmond Spiders, who earned a No. 12 seed in this year’s tournament by winning the Atlantic 10 Conference on Sunday. They will open the tournament on Thursday against a tough Iowa team, though, and Richmond is a considerable underdog.

University of Delaware: To the Northeast of Washington, there’s one more option for local sports fans looking for a somewhat regional team to root for in the men’s tournament. The No. 15-seeded Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens will play their opening round game against Villanova on Friday. Like Richmond, they are also significant underdogs in the game.

For some local sports fans, filling out a March Madness bracket won’t be enough. And in the DC area, there are now several options for betting on the NCAA Tournament. In the nearly three years since sports betting was legalized in DC, the city has unveiled a sports betting app, GambetDC, which allows users to wager on the NCAA Tournament. In addition, as the Washington Post noted, the DMV is now home to three different sportsbooks: The William Hill Sportsbook inside the Capital One Arena; the BetMGM Sportsbook & Lounge in National Harbor; and the BetMGM Sportsbook located just outside of Nationals Park. In addition, sports betting kiosks are operating at a number of bars in the city, according to the Post. 

In Virginia, where Internet-based sports gambling is also legal, fans can place wagers through online sportsbooks like FanDuel, DraftKings, and others, as the Action Network points out.

Senior Writer

Luke Mullins is a senior writer at Washingtonian magazine focusing on the people and institutions that control the city’s levers of power. He has written about the Koch Brothers’ attempt to take over The Cato Institute, David Gregory’s ouster as moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press, the collapse of Washington’s Metro system, and the conflict that split apart the founders of Politico.