NCAA College Basketball

Odds to Win March Madness: Three-Way Tie Among Faves For 2021

No sport in North America was likely a bigger victim of the COVID-19 pandemic than NCAA basketball. March Madness is an annual tradition for sports bettors and after it was cancelled in 2020, the NCAA seems intent on having college basketball again in the fall, with three schools as co-favorites to win the 2021 national championship.

The Gonzaga Bulldogs, Virginia Cavaliers and Villanova Wildcats all sit at +1000 to cut down the nets in March and take back college basketball glory. These three teams are consistently at the top of the oddsboard at the best basketball betting sites and are returning a majority of their rosters to go along with new recruits.

After these programs are the usual blue-blood suspects like the Kentucky Wildcats (+1100), Kansas Jayhawks (+1200), Duke Blue Devils (+1500) and North Carolina Tar Heels (+2000) as teams that will certainly be in the thick of the insanity for March Madness.

We’ve still got some time before students are ready to go back on campus and teams are playing regular-season games so before placing an NCAA futures bet, be sure to read up on how to bet on college basketball and how to bet on games with no fans in attendance. These will be helpful when making your wager.

Now, here are the betting odds for the top 25 teams on the oddsboard to win the 2021 NCAA basketball national championship:

Odds to Win the 2021 NCAAB Championship

Team Odds
Gonzaga +1000
Virginia +1000
Villanova +1000
Kentucky +1100
Kansas +1200
Michigan State +1200
Duke +1500
Iowa +1500
Michigan +1500
Baylor +1800
Creighton +1800
Florida State +2000
North Carolina +2000
Texas Tech +2000
West Virginia +2000
Wisconsin +2800
Connecticut +3000
Houston +3000
Louisville +3300
Florida +3500
Ohio State +3500
Oregon +3500
San Diego State +3500
Texas +4000
Illinois +5000

Odds as of June 15 at Bovada

Why There Isn’t A Clear-Cut Favorite

Some years in NCAA college basketball, it’s so obvious who the best team is that you’re essentially waiting until March Madness starts so you can start to see the big showdowns.

Well, 2021 doesn’t have a clear-cut fave because the variance in talent and coaching for the top teams is too hard to pinpoint. Early futures bettors may see a lot of these odds swing greatly once we get a glimpse of how these teams match up on the court.

In the meantime, Gonzaga, Villanova and Virginia share the lowest odds to win the title so here’s what you need to know about each of these schools:

Gonzaga Bulldogs

  • Head Coach: Mark Few 
  • 2020 Record: 31-2
  • 2020 Leading Scorer: Filip Petrusev, 17.5 ppg
  • 2021 Recruits: Jalen Suggs, Julian Strawther
  • Key Departures: Filip Petrusev (?)
  • Opening National Championship Odds: +1000

Gonzaga has routinely been in the thick of the championship hunt for the better part of a decade so it makes sense the Bulldogs would be near the top of the oddsboard.

They had six players average double figures in points in 2020, including 2020 National Player of the Year candidate Filip Petrusev. Petrusev is testing the NBA draft waters but may opt to come back to school. The Zags are also getting a five-star recruit in Jalen Suggs to be their next starting point guard, which is a first for the program.

Villanova Wildcats

  • Head Coach: Jay Wright
  • 2020 Record: 24-7
  • 2020 Leading Scorer: Saddiq Bey, 16.1 ppg
  • 2021 Recruits: Zion Bethea, Tymu Chenery
  • Key Departures: Saddiq Bey
  • Opening National Championship Odds: +1000

Guard play will usually keep you ahead of the curve in college basketball and no team embodies that philosophy more than Villanova. They had five players average double figures last season but leading scorer Saddiq Bey is likely to be taken in the NBA draft so guards like Collin Gillespie and Bryan Antoine will need to shoulder the load.

The Wildcats may not have the star power of college hoops programs like Kansas or Kentucky but Jay Wright always has his offense in attack mode, which makes them dangerous come tournament time.

Virginia Cavaliers

  • Head Coach: Tony Bennett
  • 2020 Record: 23-7
  • 2020 Leading Scorer: Mamadi Diakite, 13.7 ppg
  • 2021 Recruits: Jabri Abdur-Rahim, Reece Beekman
  • Key Departures: Mamadi Diakite
  • Opening National Championship Odds: +1000

The Cavaliers don’t have the high-end talent of the 2019 championship squad that had three of their starting five taken in the NBA draft but they still play a defensive press that limits even the best of offenses in college basketball.

Two of their incoming freshmen, Jabri Abdur-Rahim and Reece Beekman, ranked in the top 100 recruits but the departure of Mamadi Diakite to graduation is going to hurt. They typically rank in the top three for points allowed per game but their offense is usually anemic, so don’t be looking at taking the OVER for a lot of their games in 2020-21.

Understanding the Odds to Win the NCAA Tournament

At any college basketball sportsbook, you’ll see tournament odds laid out like this:

  • Duke +500
  • Villanova +650
  • Gonzaga +900

Unlike a straight-up bet where there is a clear favorite represented by the minus sign (-), the team with the lowest odds would be the front-runner. In this case, it’s Duke and the rest are underdogs even though each team has a plus sign (+) prefacing their odds.

If you were to lay down $100 on the Blue Devils, you’d get a payout of $600 – your original money is returned coupled with your winnings of $500.

To see how much you’d win on the futures odds, check out our Odds Calculator. It’ll show you what your payout would be based on the odds and amount wagered.

What is a Futures Bet for College Basketball?

Betting on a school’s odds to win the NCAAB championship is a type of futures bet. This is a bet you can make weeks or even months in advance of a big event. Oddsmakers set the odds early and look at a team’s past performance, injuries and coaching/roster moves.

The lines are not set in stone and will move as the regular season progresses. If you see odds you like, take them as soon as you can. Getting Gonzaga at +900 is better than getting them at +100. When you bet, you want to get as much value as you can so if you do win your wager, you’re getting the best payout.

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