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Odds to Win March Madness: Gonzaga and Virginia Co-Faves for 2021

NCAA Basketball Championship Odds to Win March 16, 2020

With the devastating news of the 2020 March Madness tournament being canceled due to the outbreak of COVID-19 across the globe, fans of NCAA college basketball were left with more questions than answers. Well, online sportsbooks have at least one question covered, listing the Gonzaga Bulldogs and Virginia Cavaliers as co-favorites to win the 2021 national championship.

The Bulldogs and Cavaliers were poised to make a deep run in the 2020 March Madness tournament and with the NCAA reportedly considering giving each player another year of eligibility for athletics, these two squads are primed to return quality upperclassmen in 2021 while also welcoming above-average recruiting classes.

After these two programs are the usual suspects like the Kansas Jayhawks (+1000), Kentucky Wildcats (+1200) and Michigan State Spartans (+1200) to round out the top five, with other notable programs like Duke (+1400), North Carolina (+2000) and Villanova (+2800) not far behind on the oddsboard.

Why Virginia and Gonzaga Are The Favorites

With the possibility of players being granted another year of college eligibility, the Gonzaga Bulldogs and Virginia Cavaliers stand to benefit greatly by the proposal from the NCAA. Both teams had supreme strengths with Gonzaga being the highest-scoring team in the country while Virginia’s defense was nearly impenetrable and led the NCAA in points allowed per game.

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 this season, including 2020 National Player of the Year candidate Filip Petrusev. When you factor in the Zags are getting a five-star recruit in Jalen Suggs to be their next starting point guard, it’s hard to envision a defense that could stop them ... except maybe Virginia’s.

The Cavaliers don’t have the star power of last year’s championship squad that had three of their starting five drafted into the NBA but they still play a defensive press that limits even the best of offenses in college basketball. Head coach Tony Bennett will likely have center Mamadi Diakite back if the NCAA extends his eligibility and he is one of the best defensive anchors in the nation.

Three of Virginia’s starting five this season were seniors and the Cavs also have two four-star recruits coming in as a fresh new batch of athletes for Bennett to mold into his championship system.

Keep An Eye On Duke and North Carolina

ACC teams like the Duke Blue Devils and North Carolina Tar Heels have already locked up most of their scholarships for the incoming recruiting class and what’s incredible is both teams are still in the mix for the remaining seven to 10 players from high school who have yet to declare.

The first team that jumps off the page is the Tar Heels (+2000), who were beaten down in 2020 and were unlikely to make the NCAA Tournament anyway. Now, Roy Williams and his staff get to retool and have three five-star recruits coming to Chapel Hill, including two centers in Day’Ron Sharpe and Walker Kessler. The Tar Heels are notorious for being a stout team that rebounds the ball and those two should reinforce those winning strategies.

It remains to be seen what players will stay back in 2021 as point guard Cole Anthony is likely to jump ship to the NBA but the Heels have a top recruit in Caleb Love coming to North Carolina who should be able to replace Anthony’s production as the lead guard. Garrison Brooks, Brandon Robinson and Armando Bacot will likely still be with the team, which should make them a tough out in the ACC.

Of course, you can’t discuss North Carolina without mentioning the Duke Blue Devils, who also are welcoming another stunning recruiting class that includes four five-star recruits. It’s not uncommon for Duke to be an entry-level institution for players who dream of being in the NBA and with the likely departures of Vernon Carey Jr. and Tre Jones, the cupboard needs to be restocked.

Head coach Mike Krzyzewski should be able to build this squad up as a formidable championship contender as he still has players that came in from last year’s class who will likely stay another year because of the season’s cancellation.

It’s also worth noting that top recruit Jonathan Kuminga, who reclassified as a junior to a senior, has been linked to Duke with his recent campus visits. If he were to sign on with the Blue Devils, it would completely shift the odds in Duke’s favor as he’s one of the few players thought to be the potential No. 1 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.

Which team are you betting on to win the 2021 NCAAB national championship? Here are the full odds below:

Odds to Win the 2021 NCAAB Championship
Michigan State+1200
Florida State+2000
North Carolina+2000
San Diego State+2500
Ohio State+2800
Texas Tech+2800
West Virginia+2800
Penn State+5000

Odds as of March 16 at BetOnline

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.