Everybody, get into the pool! For the first time in two (!) years, March Madness is finally here again. The 2021 Men’s NCAA Tournament kicks off this week, with the state of Indiana playing host to all 68 teams vying for the national title. The Bulldogs of Gonzaga claimed the No. 1 overall seed as the nation’s last remaining unbeaten team, but Mark Few’s boys are poised to face more than just one or two challenges on the path to championship glory. With that in mind, it’s time for CanadianBettingSites to roll through the best 2021 March Madness Brackets’ picks, from the outright winner to some slick prop bets, including potential first-round upsets.
2021 College Basketball National Champion Picks
So, who’s winning the whole darn thing? It’s not hard to understand why the Zags are a popular pick, as they have the opportunity to become the first undefeated men’s national champion in over four decades. On paper, however, Michigan and Baylor not far behind — though neither managed to claim a title in their respective conference tournaments, each is among the most talented, well-coached squads in the country.
But there’s one No. 1 seed we haven’t mentioned yet, and it’s the one that deserves serious consideration.
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 14, 2021
The Illinois Fighting Illini are fresh off winning the Big Ten Tournament championship up against the most fearsome in-conference competition in the country. Thanks to big-time performances from standouts like Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn, the team has more Quadrant 1 victories than any team in the land, scoring wins just this week over two teams that earned No. 2 seeds in the Big Dance, Iowa and Ohio State.
Unlike Baylor and Michigan, Brad Underwood’s team is playing its absolute best basketball of the season at the perfect time. As the No. 1 seed with the longest odds, that’s probably all you need to know to make the smart pick.
Pick Illinois (8.47) to win the 2021 national championship. A $20 bet cashes out for a terrific $169.40 at Sports Interaction.
Illinois won four more games against Big Ten competition than any other team.
15-9 Ohio State
— Illini Stats & Notes (@IlliniStats) March 14, 2021
Fancy a dark horse pick? Well, only one man is going to be the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, and that man plies his trade in Stillwater. Cade Cunningham and the No. 4 seed Oklahoma Sooners fell just short in the Big 12 Tournament Final against Texas, but never underestimate the ability of a transcendent talent to go wild and put his team on his back. If you’re shooting for the stars with a higher risk, higher reward team, you might just be a Cowboys fan.
For a sneakier underdog pick, take a long look at Oklahoma State to win the national title. A $20 wager at top sportsbooks pays out an outstanding $680.
|2021 NCAA Tournament: Odds to Win|
|Illinois Fighting Illini||8.47||7.00||8.00|
|Florida State Seminoles||20.00||41.00||41.00|
|Ohio State Buckeyes||21.00||21.00||21.00|
|Alabama Crimson Tide||21.00||16.00||23.00|
|West Virginia Mountaineers||25.00||41.00||41.00|
|Oklahoma State Cowboys||25.00||34.00||34.00|
|Creighton Blue Jays||34.00||76.00||76.00|
First Four: Michigan State vs UCLA
How did this happen? Is this even real? Not only did Duke and Kentucky both miss the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1976, but two absolute titans of the college basketball ranks barely made it into the field of 68 — and they’re facing each other as part of the most decorated First Four matchup we’ve ever seen.
Both uncomfortably on the bubble for much of the year, Michigan State and UCLA will duke it out for the right to snag the No. 11 seed in the East and earn the right to face No. 6 BYU, and the bettors have every reason to pay attention.
The early lines have the Spartans as a very narrow favourite in the neighbourhood of 1.5 points. They’ve been quite the boom-or-bust team this year, beating opponents they shouldn’t beat and lose to teams they shouldn’t lose to. One star-level performance can make all the difference, however, and Tom Izzo’s team has a top-class two-way operator to rely on in Aaron Henry.
The Bruins don’t have an Aaron Henry — or anyone who can guard him.
Pick Michigan State (1.80) to defeat UCLA in the First Four. A winning $20 ticket redeems for $36 at Bodog.
Michigan State and UCLA are two opposite bubble teams. The Spartans have a star in Aaron Henry, 3 wins over top-5 teams and can get blown out at any time. UCLA has 6 double-digit scorers but hasn't beaten a ranked team.
It feels again like it depends on which MSU team shows up.
— Nate Atkins (@NateAtkins_) March 15, 2021
Round of 64: Rutgers vs Clemson
Why pick Midwest Region No. 10 seed Rutgers’ first-round game against 7th-seeded Clemson? Because it might just be the single hardest matchup to pick in the entire Round of 64.
There’s awfully little separating these teams. The Scarlet Knights took 11 losses in 26 games this season, but you can chalk that up to the fact that they play in the scarily, ferociously loaded Big Ten. For their troubles, they broke a 30-year March Madness drought to punch their ticket. The Tigers, conversely, surely took advantage of a year in the ACC in which it was hard to tell which way was up. Duke missed the Dance entirely and Georgia Tech won the conference tournament, after all.
Believe it or not, Rutgers is a tiny, tiny favourite as of this writing. And now that they finally have a chance to play at a team that wasn’t forged in the scorching fires of the Big Ten, they’ve got to be the pick to advance.
Pick Rutgers to overcome Clemson in the Round of 64. A $20 bet at top sportsbooks cashes out for $37.40.
Will a No. 14 Seed Beat a No. 3 Seed?
Time for the prop bets! While No. 9 seeds are famous for beating 8s and at least one No. 12 seed always seems to knock off a No. 5 year after year, it’s time to dig a little deeper.
Fancy a No. 14 seed knocking off a No. 3? These matchups are interesting because they always feature a mid-major against a big-timer. This year, your four matchups are Kansas vs Eastern Washington (West), Arkansas vs Colgate (South), Texas vs Abilene Christian (East), and Morehead State vs West Virginia (Midwest).
Seth Davis picked Colgate over Arkansas on National TV.
Only thing Colgate is beating is gingivitis.
— JC Hoops (@JCHoopsPod) March 14, 2021
If any one of these underdogs is worth pondering as a Cinderella, it might just be Colgate. Champions of the Patriot League, the Raiders lost just one game all season long, and won’t have to worry about being drowned out by a packed house of enemy fans. Still, this year’s crop of No. 14s is simply a bridge too far.
Bet on zero No. 14 seeds defeating a No. 3 seed (1.80) in the NCAA Tournament. A winning $20 ticket promises to redeem for $36 at Spin Palace Sports.