2021-22 CBB Odds — March Madness Futures, NCAA Tournament Best Bets
March is on schedule to be the most bet on month in legal U.S. sports betting history thanks to March Madness and the 2021 NCAA Tournament. The dogs barked early, delivering 20 outright upsets to CBB bettors through the first two rounds of the tournament. Now UCLA, Gonzaga, Baylor and Houston are scheduled to clash this Saturday in the Final Four. Follow along as we catch you up to speed with college basketball betting tips, best bets and national championship picks for the 2021 tournament.
2021 NCAA Tournament — Final Four Odds
All season long Gonzaga has had the shortest odds to win the tournament. Now that they’re in the Final Four, they’re odds-on favorites to cut down the nets in Indianapolis. It’s a hefty price to back the Zags for a reason. They’re a perfect 30-0 and cruised to the Sweet 16 by outscoring their first two opponents by a combined 49 points (covering the spread in both games). They then dominated Creighton and USC by a combined 37 points. In fact, not only is Gonzaga undefeated but they’ve beaten all of their opponents by 10 points or more. The one thing they don’t have going for them, though? Depth. Head coach Mark Few only used seven players in the win against Oklahoma. Favored by 14.5 points against UCLA, they should be just fine against the Bruins. In fact, it’s the largest Final Four spread in NCAA tournament history. However, their depth could become a hurdle against the winner of Houston and Baylor. If you’re trying to bet on the Zags now, it’s going to cost you. But your best bet is at FanDuel Sportsbook, where you can lock them in at -190 compared to -220 elsewhere.
Baylor’s first loss of the season didn’t come until Feb. 27 against Kansas. They would lose one more time before entering the NCAA tournament, but so far they’ve managed to run the table in Indianapolis. Now they’re in their first Final Four since 1950, and the only thing standing between them and the national championship game is another basketball team from the Lone Star State. The Bears can deliver offensively and defensively. According to KenPom, Baylor ranks 3rd in the nation in adjusted offense and 28th in adjusted defense. In terms of pace, they are no. 128 adjusted tempo doesn’t stand out, except that a faster-paced team might have a better chance of making Houston (no. 8 adjusted def.) uncomfortable defensively. As you’ll read below, I think Houston can give Baylor a run for their money, so I’ll stay away from their current futures odds ahead of the Final Four.
Read More: Baylor vs. Houston Betting Preview
Oddly enough the Houston Cougars actually have longer odds now that they’re in the Final Four than they did ahead of Monday night’s Elite Eight matchup with the Oregon State Beavers. Houston dominated the first half of that game but stumbled in the second half. They were still able to close it out with a six-point win, which wasn’t enough for Houston backers to cover the spread. As for the Cougars’ identity, they play at one of the slowest paces in the league (no. 325 in adjusted tempo), but are 7th in adjusted offense and 11th and adjusted defense, according to KenPom.com. The combination of those two things makes them a tough out for any team, even Baylor and Gonzaga. They also have an experienced head coach in Kelvin Sampson, who year in and year out has proven he can coach with the best of them, regardless of the school he is at. I truly believe Houston and Sampson can win the Final Four, which is why if I were to add another futures ticket for this NCAA tournament, it would be on them at William Hill Sportsbook.
Despite nearly missing the dance, the Bruins have made their first trip to the Elite Eight since 2008. It appeared that their run would come to an end against Michigan, as oddsmakers made them 8-point underdogs. Michigan stopped them, sort of. They held UCLA to merely 51 points over the course of 40 minutes Tuesday night; however, that was two points too many. UCLA didn’t get the best game from their sharp shooter, Jaime Jaquez but they still managed to upset the Wolverines thanks to their hard-nosed defense, slow pace, and ball control. The Bruins play at even a slower place than Houston. Unfortunately they have to face Gonzaga in the semifinals of the Final Four. Though they have some talented players, I just don’t see how they compete with the no. 1 team in the country this Saturday. Gonzaga will turn the game into a track meet, and UCLA doesn’t have enough gas to keep up.
March Madness Odds By Region
All odds referenced herein are courtesy of BetMGM and accurate as of March 14, 2021.
No. 1 Baylor +300 vs. No. 16 Hartford +50000
No. 8 North Carolina +5000 vs. No. 9 Wisconsin +4000
No. 5 Villanova +4000 vs. No. 12 Winthrop +15000
No. 4 Purdue +4000 vs. No. 13 North Texas +15000
No. 6 Texas Tech +2500 vs. No. 11 Utah State +6600
No. 3 Arkansas +3500 vs. No. 14 Colgate +15000
No. 7 Florida +8000 vs. No. 10 Virginia Tech +6600
No. 2 Ohio State +1600 vs. No. 15 Oral Roberts +25000
No. 1 Illinois +600 vs. No. 16 Drexel +50000
No. 8 Loyola Chicago +4000 vs. No. 9 Georgia Tech +10000
No. 5. Tennessee +4000 vs. No. 12 Oregon State +8000
No. 4 Oklahoma State +1600 vs. No. 13 Liberty +25000
No. 6 San Diego State +5000 vs. No. 11 Syracuse +8000
No. 3 West Virginia +2000 vs. No. 14 Morehead State +25000
No. 7 Clemson +8000 vs. No. 10 Rutgers
No. 2 Houston +2000 vs. No. 15 Cleveland State +50000
No. 1 Gonzaga +250 vs. No. 16 Norfolk State / Appalachian State +50000
No. 8 Oklahoma +3500 vs. No. 9 Missouri +6600
No. 5 Creighton +2500 vs. No 12. UC Santa Barbara +25000
No 4. Virginia +3500 vs. No. 13 Ohio +15000
No. 6 USC +3500 vs. No. 11 Wichita State / Drake +10000
No. 3 Kansas +2500 vs. No. 14 Eastern Washington +50000
No. 7 Oregon +5000 vs. No. 10 VCU +10000
No 2. Iowa +1600 vs. No. 15 Grand Canyon +50000
No. 1 Michigan +600 vs. No. 16 Mount St. Mary’s / Texas Southern +50000
No. 8 LSU +5000 vs. No. 9 St. Bonaventure +10000
No. 5 Colorado +6600 vs. No. 12 Georgetown +10000
No. 4 Florida State +2000 vs. No. 13 UNC Greensboro +15000
No. 6 BYU +8000 vs. No. 11 Michigan State / UCLA +6600
No. 3 Texas +2000 vs. No. 14 Abilene Christian +50000
No. 7 UConn +4000 vs. No. 10 Maryland +10000
No. 2 Alabama +1600 vs. No. 15 Iona +50000
2021 NCAA Tournament Dates
- Play-in Games – Thursday, March 18
- First Round – 12 pm ET Friday, March 19 thru Saturday, March 20
- Second Round – 12 pm ET Sunday, March 21 thru Monday, March 22
- Sweet 16 – 2 pm ET Saturday, March 27 thru Sunday, March 28
- Elite Eight – 7 pm ET Monday, March 29 thru Tuesday, March 30
- Final Four – 5 pm ET Saturday, April 3
- NCAA Championship – 9 pm ET Monday, April 5
March Madness, NCAA Tournament Betting Preview
Gonzaga and Baylor continue to sit atop CBB March Madness odds, the same place they were when NCAA tournament odds opened last spring (scroll to the bottom to see pre-season picks.) Now both teams are the top seeds in their respective regions. But that doesn’t mean there haven’t been surprises when it comes to NCAA tournament favorites.
Several blue bloods and future Hall-of-Fame coaches have surprised college basketball bettors in the wrong way. John Calipari and Mike Krzyzewski will watch this one from their couches after Duke and Kentucky failed to make the tournament. Tom Izzo almost missed out, too, but Sparty received a bid after all.
A Tale of Two Michigans
Michigan State (+6600) faces off with UCLA (+8000) in one of four play-in games on Thursday. The Spartans have struggled for much of the season, but also have several impressive wins against top-tier opponents, including season-saving wins against two of this year’s no. 1 seeds (Illinois and Michigan) and a no. 2 seed (Ohio State). Given their caliber of wins, it seems like Michigan State does possess the upside to make a run in the tourney. However, getting past UCLA won’t be easy. The Spartans are only favored by one point Thursday night, and the Bruins rank 24th in offensive efficiency.
As for the Michigan Wolverines (+600), the Yellow and Blue have sailed up the CBB futures sheets with second-year head coach Juwan Howard. Some Michigan bettors bet on the Wolverines at 100-to-1 odds before the season started.
March Madness Best Bets – The Favorites
The picks in this section are brought to you via Coleman Crawley, host of Mimosas in March, one of our favorite college basketball betting podcasts for March Madness.
Michigan Wolverines +600 at BetMGM
The closest team to being top 5 in both metrics this season is Michigan. The Wolverines are 7th in offensive efficiency and 4th in defensive. They are on pace to be the third-overall no. 1 seed. Due to not being a part of the undefeated crew for so long like Baylor and Gonzaga, Michigan has fallen under the radar more than those two this season, but I believe they are the most balanced. +400 is Michigan’s current odds to win the national title, and although those it’s a short price, I love their chances overall. But as is the case with any short favorite, it might more prudent to try roll it over strategy.
Illinois Fighting Illini +700 at PointsBet
(Illinois was +1200 at the time this was written.)
The Illini find themselves in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency at 9th and 7th respectively according to KenPom. Their blowout win over Michigan has them in a very good position to receive the final 1 seed in the big dance. They also possess arguably the best tandem in the country with Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn. The duo is an absolute nightmare for opposing defenses. Their betting odds are +1200, which is a solid deal considering those odds are nearly three times longer than the next highest team, Michigan.
Houston Cougars +2500 at PointsBet
Houston will not be getting a top seed, but if you are looking for a team with some longer odds that no one in your pool might pick, Houston could fit the mold. They are 10th in offensive efficiency, and 5th in defensive efficiency according to Kenpom. They also have a red hot Quentin Grimes. The junior and former Kansas Jayhawk star recruit has averaged 18 points per game for the season and hit at least three 3-pointers in five straight games. March is the right time to be clicking, and the Cougars seemed to have found their stride. They are +2500 to win the NCAA title at PointsBet.
States With Online Sports Betting For March Madness
Adding to the antsiness following a season without March Madness, a total of nine states have legalized sports betting since the last time an NCAA tournament champion. That champion was the Virginia Cavaliers, but unfortunately for UVA fans, Virginia sports betting regulations prohibit Virginians from betting on in-state schools.
Here’s more information about the states and jurisdictions in which you can place online sports bets during the 2021 NCAA tournament.
|State||Sports Betting Legality||Retail / Online||Market Launch|
|New Jersey||Legal & Live||Retail & Online||Jun. 2018|
|West VA||Legal & Live||Retail & Online||Aug. 2018|
|Mississippi||Legal & Live||Retail, online is available on site at casinos||Aug. 2018|
|Pennsylvania||Legal & Live||Retail & Online||Nov. 2018|
|Rhode Island||Legal & Live||Retail & Online||Nov. 2018|
|Iowa||Legal & Live||Retail & Online||Aug. 2019|
|Oregon||Legal & Live||Retail & Online||Aug. 2019|
|Indiana||Legal & Live||Retail & Online||Sep. 2019|
|New Hampshire||Legal & Live||Retail & Online||Dec. 2019|
|Illinois||Legal & Live||Retail & Online - in-person registration required||Mar. 2020|
|Michigan||Legal & Live||Retail & Online||Mar. 2020|
|Colorado||Legal & Live||Retail & Online||May 2020|
|Tennessee||Legal & Live||Online Only - TN will not have retail betting||Nov. 2020|
|Virginia||Legal & Live||Retail & Online, though retail has not launched||Jan. 2020|
|Montana||Legal & Live||Retail, online is available on-site at lottery retailers with alcohol licenses||Mar. 2020|
|Nevada||Legal & Live||Retail & Online, though registration must be done in-person||May 2018|
Online Sportsbooks Where You Can Bet On The 2021 NCAA Tournament
Top Image Credit: Imagn