CBB Odds: Best March Madness Bets for 2021 NCAA Tournament
March has been full of madness; unfortunately, not the kind we had planned. The global coronavirus pandemic abruptly canceled the 2020 NCAA Tournament, crushing Final Four dreams for teams like Baylor, San Diego State, and Kansas. While we aren’t watching the National Championship Monday night, we can get a head start on our 2021 NCAA Tournament bets at legal US sportsbooks.
March Madness 2021 Betting Odds & Best Bets
Texas Tech Red Raiders +4000
With or without the cancellation of March Madness, it’s unlikely Texas Tech would have returned to what should have been Monday night’s national title game. Texas Tech had some notable performances during the 2019-20 season, including a win against then-No. 1 Louisville at Madison Square Garden in December, an overtime loss to Kentucky, and two games against Kansas that came down to the final possessions. But even before the pandemic wreaked havoc on March Madness, Texas Tech’s tournament hopes were in jeopardy as the Red Raiders ended the regular season on a four-game losing streak, including a 68-58 home loss to the Texas Longhorns.
So you think the school’s first Final Four appearance was a fluke? Don’t be so sure of yourself. The recent struggles in Lubbock were predictable after losing four of five starters from last year’s roster. Though Texas Tech was a bubble team in 2020, no school would have wanted to go through a 10-seeded Texas Tech team coached by Chris Beard. Dating back to his time at Little Rock-Arkansas, Beard’s teams are fierce in March. In just five seasons as a D1 head coach, Beard has a 9-3 NCAA tournament record, making the Big Dance in three of his first four seasons. Texas Tech was on the bubble, but a first-round win in the Big 12 Tournament would have likely given them a ticket.
Beard will likely lose Big 12 Freshman of the Year Jah’mius Ramsey to the NBA draft, but he’s bringing in the best recruiting class in school history for the second consecutive year. One spot ahead of Kansas, Texas Tech currently owns the nation’s 11th-ranked recruiting class, which includes a 5-star point guard by the name of Nimari Burnett. As impressive as that is, Beard is still adding pieces.
Texas Tech’s first Final Four appearance came, in part, by adding two key grad transfers — Matt Mooney and Tariq Owens. Beard is sticking with that recipe for success, and to one’s surprise, Texas Tech is already in contention to land some of the top players entering the offseason transfer portal. What many die-hard college basketball fans are still unaware of, however, is that Texas Tech is in position to land a potential future No. 1 draft pick in Jonathan Kuminga.
Kuminga, who is also being heavily recruited by the likes of Duke, Kentucky, LSU, and Auburn, is currently the No. 1 player in the class of 2021. Why am I discussing him now, you ask? The high-profile recruit is considering jumpstarting his NBA career by reclassifying to the class of 2020. Arguably the best high school player in the nation regardless of age, recruiting experts say Kuminga would be the No. 2 ranked player if he does in fact graduate early.
Without knowing much else, one would presume Kentucky or Duke are the favorites to land the future NBA star. Not so fast…
Already in Lubbock is Kuminga’s half brother, Joel Ntambwe, a transfer from UNLV, who was recruited by Texas Tech assistant Ulric Maligi. Coincidentally, Maligi also played a significant role in recruiting Kuminga’s cousin Emmanuel Mudiay to SMU before Mudiay decided to play in China. Enough to say, Maligi’s track record with Kuminga’s family is solid.
Now, amid national shutdowns and a premature offseason, you’ll find social media posts with the Kuminga and Ntambwe working out together. With current social distancing measures open-ended, you’d think, if Kuminga reclassifies, spending a season with his brother is even more appealing.
Among other reasons why Kuminga may end up in Lubbock is the lure of facing Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham — the presumptive first-overall pick in a plethora of 2021 NBA mock drafts — at least twice. Playing in the Big 12 will give Kuminga his best chance to prove to NBA scouts that he, not Cunningham, should go No. 1.
If Texas Tech does land Kuminga, it’s reasonable to think Texas Tech would start the season as a top-three betting favorite. Even if they miss on Kuminga, +4000 is plenty of value to back Beard and Texas Tech’s historic recruiting class.
More 2021 NCAA Tournament Betting Picks
Oklahoma State Cowboys +10000
Update: The NCAA has handed Oklahoma State a 20-21 postseason ban due to NCAA violations.
As we mentioned earlier, the No. 1 high school player in the nation is heading to Stillwater for the 2020-21 season.
Joining the top prospect is a trio of four-star recruits, including 6-foot-9 forward Montreal Pena, giving Oklahoma State the best recruiting class in the Big 12, according to Rivals. The Cowboys weren’t making it to the Big Dance this year unless they ran the table in the Big 12 Tournament, but Oklahoma State will be contenders next March. The Cowboys are as low as +3500 at some online sports betting sites, but you can still lock in Oklahoma State +10000 at William Hill.
North Carolina Tar Heels +4000
The 2019-20 season was a train wreck for the Tar Heels and Roy Williams, but they can make up for it next season. The future is bright Garrison Brooks’ recent announcement that he’ll stay in Chapel Hill for his senior season rather than entering the 2020 NBA draft.
That means North Carolina will immediately return 8.5 rebounds and nearly 17 points per game, not to mention the fact Williams brings in the third-ranked recruiting class in the nation. It’s tough to imagine Cole Anthony will follow Brooks’ lead, but in the off-chance he does, North Carolina’s odds will be closer to +1000 than +4000.