2021 March Madness Betting Preview

We’ve finally reached that crazy time of the betting year known as March Madness, where college hoops fans and sports bettors come together for the most epic single-elimination tournament in all of sports. It’s been an entertaining season of NCAA basketball, and it all leads up to this moment as 68 teams (soon to be 64) take their shot at winning this year’s National Championship.

The March Madness tournament is one of the biggest betting events in all of sports, with millions of people filling out their brackets and making their picks. If you want to bet on March Madness, you should start by checking out the betting odds for each NCAA team. To give you a head start, we’ve put together some of the more interesting betting odds available for the 2021 NCAA tournament, highlighting some of the popular favorites, contenders and potential Cinderella teams.  

March Madness Favorites 

  • Gonzaga +210

With a perfect record of 26-0, the Gonzaga Bulldogs have the best betting odds to win this year’s National Championship. While their detractors may point to the lack of competition in the West Coast Conference (WCC), Gonzaga has met every challenge this season and defeated a number of strong teams from the Big Ten and Big 12. It helps that the Bulldogs have forwards Corey Kispert and Drew Timme on the roster, as the two players have combined to average nearly 40 points per game this season. Gonzaga has a storied basketball program that has produced a number of notable NBA players, but the school has yet to ever win the March Madness tournament. Betting on the tournament favorite to win it all may not be the most daring strategy, but it does give you the best odds of winning a decent payout.

  • Illinois +550

Another one of the favorites for this year’s March Madness tournament: The Illinois Fighting Illini. The team finished strong in the Big Ten this season and boasts a 23-6 record heading into this year’s NCAA tournament. The six losses may seem like a lot for a team claiming one of the tournament’s #1 seeds, but Illinois has had an impressive campaign that included some big wins versus quality programs such as Michigan, Ohio State and Iowa. The team has one of the best 1-2 punches in the nation with guard Ayo Dosunmu and center Kofi Cockburn and they have a deep enough roster to play small ball or go big when needed. Illinois is a great betting option this year, as they provide the safety of a top seed while still giving you decent odds for winning the 2021 National Championship.

  • Baylor +650

Enjoying one of their best seasons in school history, the Baylor Bears were undefeated throughout much of the 2020-21 season. While Baylor eventually lost to Kansas towards the end of their schedule, the Bears have locked up a #1 seed and are still one of the betting favorites heading into the NCAA tournament. This team’s strength lays in their backcourt, as they have a number of solid guards including senior MaCio Teague and juniors Jared Butler and Davion Mitchell. This Baylor team has relied on stingy defense and a “never quit” attitude throughout the year and those traits could prove useful over the course of the tournament. Baylor provides great betting value this year, as their current odds give you the chance to cash in if they win the National Championship. Pretty good for a team that’s only lost once all year. 

March Madness Contenders

  • Michigan +900

Betting fans may be surprised to see a #1 seed with such big March Madness odds, but that is the case with this year’s Michigan Wolverines. The Fab Five may be long gone, but Juwan Howard is back and making his first-ever NCAA tournament appearance behind the bench for a young and talented Michigan squad. Michigan won their first National Championship in 1989, and have decent odds at winning their second in this year’s tournament. At 20-4, the Wolverines were the best team in the Big Ten Conference during the regular season and locked up a #1 seed in this year’s tournament. There’s no question that Michigan likes to play big, as they’ve dominated opponents this season with their massive frontcourt, including 7’1 freshman Hunter Dickinson. While the Wolverines may have struggled towards the end of the season, losing a big game to Illinois and another to Michigan State, those losses have resulted in even higher betting odds leading up to March Madness. 

  • Iowa +2000

Great players are essential for winning a National Championship and Iowa has that covered in the form of Luka Garza. The 6’11 senior is enjoying an incredible season, averaging nearly 24 points and 9 rebounds per game and repeating as the Big Ten’s Player of the Year. Garza is clearly a talent worth betting on at this time of year. Similar to last season, this year’s Iowa team is an offensive powerhouse, limited only by a vulnerable defense. The Hawkeyes finished the year third in the Big Ten, behind only Michigan and Illinois, but will need to improve on their own end if they want to improve their odds of winning this year’s NCAA tournament. Iowa hasn’t made it to the Final Four since 1980, but this year’s Hawkeyes squad could have what it takes for a deep run in this year’s tournament. With one of the best college basketball players in the nation, anything is possible. 

  • North Carolina +8000

As one of the greatest college basketball program’s in NCAA history, North Carolina doesn’t fit the mold of your typical #8 seed. Despite having won the National Championship six times and having legendary head coach Roy Williams on the sidelines, the Tar Heels finished fifth in the ACC with an 18-10 record. North Carolina has been a #1 or #2 seed in each of the last March Madness four tournaments, but things are bit different this season. Lacking their usual star power, North Carolina enters this year’s tournament with lowered expectations, but that doesn’t mean their opponents should take them lightly. It’s not often you get such massive betting odds on a basketball program like North Carolina, and I wouldn’t put it past the boys from Chapel Hill to have a surprisingly deep run in this year’s NCAA tournament.

March Madness Cinderellas

  • Loyola-Chicago +8000

The Loyola-Chicago Ramblers may not be the most iconic college basketball program, but it does have a National Championship banner hanging from their rafters, which is more than a lot of teams can say. While that championship may have come decades ago in 1963, the team’s championship odds are once again on the rise, having just made it to the Final Four in 2018. This year’s squad has looked very strong throughout the regular season, finishing first in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) with a record of 24-4. Ramblers’ senior Cameron Krutwig is having an outstanding season, with the 6’9 center leading the team in points, rebounds, assists and blocks per game. Loyola-Chicago has stayed under the betting radar as a mid-major school playing in a less-competitive conference, but don’t be shocked if they turn into a Cinderella squad when March Madness strikes midnight. 

  • Villanova +10000

It’s been an interesting season for the Villanova Wildcats, as the team began the year 7-1 before missing nearly a month of action due to COVID-19. Led by one of the best coaches in college basketball in Jay Wright, Villanova posted a 16-6 record and finished first in the Big East during the regular season. On the court, the team is led by point guard Collin Gillespie. The senior has been extremely efficient this season, shooting well from beyond the arc and keeping turnovers to a minimum. Villanova has also gotten major contributions from sophomore Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, as the 6’9 forward has averaged over 15 points and 8 rebounds per game this year. The biggest weakness for this team is on defense, as the Wildcats lack a true rim protector to dominate in the low post. With that being said, this team is still improving and could pay out on their generous betting odds if they get hot at the right time.  

  • BYU +10000

Despite a very strong regular season, many betting fans are still sleeping on this year’s BYU squad. The Cougars finished the season with a 20-6 record, good enough for second in the WCC behind only Gonzaga. It’s worth mentioning that half of those six losses came against the #1-ranked Zags. BYU enters March Madness as a #6 seed, but they have the talent and three-point shooting needed to make a run in this year’s NCAA tournament. If you’re looking for a rising star to root for during the NCAA action, look no further then Cougars guard Alex Barcello, who leads the team with just under 16 points and 5 assists per game. BYU has never made it to a Final Four in the school’s history, but they may be worth the investment when you consider their gigantic betting odds to win this year’s National Championship.