NCAA Tournament Betting Market Report: Where Things Stand Just Prior To Selection Sunday

Posted By Matt Burke on March 13, 2021 - Last Updated on March 14, 2021

We’re not out of the woods just yet on the COVID-19 front.

Friday was a worrisome day for the NCAA as two of its most recognized programs had to pull out of their respective conference tournaments due to positive COVID-19 tests. Virginia had its game against Georgia Tech cancelled and Kansas had its contest against Texas wiped out.

Despite the positive tests, it is expected that both Virginia and Kansas will play in the NCAA Tournament – which starts in less than a week. The NCAA has stated that a team needs only five healthy players to participate in an NCAA tournament game.

Virginia was +2800 to win the National Title late Friday morning at FanDuel Sportsbook. By 2:30 p.m. ET, the Cavaliers’ odds were at +3200.

Meanwhile, PointsBet had Kansas at +2000 and Virginia as +2200 to win the championship as of Friday at 2:30 p.m. ET.

“Hopefully March Madness can run without a hitch,” PointsBet Director of Communications Patrick Eichner told TheLines on Friday. “In terms of futures, we’ll treat those markets with extra caution. Fortunately we own and operate our tech from end-to-end, which affords us added flexibility in terms of being nimble and quick to adapt. You can’t necessarily predict these cancellations and postponements, but you can be prepared to respond as soon as news breaks, so we’ll stay ready for whatever lies ahead and adjust as needed.”

It does not seem like the Virginia situation will impact Syracuse, which is on the bubble for the NCAA tournament. CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander reported Friday that the Virginia player that tested positive for COVID-19 did play in the Cavaliers’ last second win over the Orange Thursday but Syracuse passed all COVID protocols later in the day on Friday.

ESPN’s Joe Lunardi had Syracuse as part of his “Last Four In” Saturday morning. CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm also had the Orange in as an 11 seed.

BracketologistLast Four InFirst Four Out
Joe LunardiSyracuse, Louisville, Drake, Utah StateWichita State, Saint Louis, Colorado State, Ole Miss
Jerry PalmSyracuse, Wichita State, UCLA, Colorado StateUtah State, Drake, Saint Louis, Boise State

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Boring is better?

Boring betting can often be a smart undertaking when it comes to wagering on the NCAA tournament.

Going chalk, and picking one of the favorites to win it all isn’t sexy. But it is more often than not, wise.

Going back to 1990, 25 of the 30 National Championship teams were either a 1 or 2 seed. Twenty-one were 1 seeds.
Here is a National Title winner breakdown by seed during that span:

  • 1 seed: 21
  • 2 seed: 4
  • 3 seed: 3
  • 4 seed: 1
  • 7 seed: 1

Gonzaga, Baylor, Michigan and Illinois are currently projected as the No. 1 seeds at ESPN.com and CBSSports.com.

Unsurprisingly, these teams have been among the most wagered-on to win the National Title, and currently have the lowest odds to win it all at most major books. Gonzaga is +225 at DraftKings to hoist the trophy come early April, Baylor is +275 at DK, Michigan is +450 and Illinois is +900.

DraftKings Sportsbook also currently has Gonzaga (-315), Baylor (-305) and Michigan (-143) as minus-odds to reach the Final Four. Illinois is +150.

Then and now

Gonzaga has been at or near the top of the odds boards for the majority of the season. On Nov. 24, 2020, the Zags were +700 in DraftKings’ NCAA title futures market.

Villanova was the only team with lower odds as the Wildcats were +600.

Michigan is the only projected No. 1 seed that wasn’t a title favorite four months ago. The Wolverines were +4000 at DraftKings Sportsbook in late November.

Ohio State, Alabama and Texas are other current top tier teams that were +3000 longshots or higher at DraftKings before the season began.

UConn, which has become the proverbial “team no one wants to play” heading into the Big Dance due to their recent hot streak, was +4000 to win it all at DK in late November. The Huskies, now +650 at DK, are the 13th most-bet team in the NCAA title futures market at BetMGM.

Here is a comparison of DraftKings Sportsbook National Title odds from Nov. 24 to now:

TeamNov. 24 oddsCurrent odds
Villanova+600+2000
Gonzaga+700+250
Baylor+800+275
Iowa+800+1500
Kentucky+900+12500
Virginia+900+2000
Illinois+1100+900
Kansas+1100+2000
Wisconsin+1200+4000
Duke+1300OTB
Florida State+1500+2000
Michigan State+1500+8000
West Virginia+2000+2000
Creighton+2500+2500
North Carolina+2500+4000
Tennessee+2500+4500
Texas Tech+2500+1500
Florida+3000+7000

By the numbers

Gonzaga has been the most wagered-on team at BetMGM since the book originally posted futures almost a year ago.

The Bulldogs have a 16.6% bet count at BetMGM and have garnered 24.3% in handle. Illinois (8.6% ticket, 13.7% handle), Michigan (7.1% ticket, 8.1% handle), and Baylor (6.9% ticket, 4.6% handle) have also been bet hard at BetMGM.

The numbers are similar at PointsBet as their top five teams by bet count are:

  • Gonzaga 16%
  • Michigan 15%
  • Baylor 9%
  • Iowa 6%
  • Illinois 5%

PB’s top five teams when it comes to handle are:

  • Gonzaga 24%
  • Michigan 18%
  • Baylor 13%
  • Illinois 6%
  • Creighton 5%

BetMGM reports that Houston has been their most wagered-on mid-major. The Cougars opened at +4000 at BetMGM but are now +2000.

College basketball national title futures

Here are the latest NCAA title odds from the top US sportsbooks. Click on the price(s) you like to make a wager now.

To view more NCAA National Title odds go to DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, PointsBet and BetMGM.

Matt Burke Avatar
Written by
Matt Burke

Matt Burke is the Sports Editor and Head of Evergreen/SEO Content at TheLines.com. He is the Founder and former Editor-in-Chief of MetroBet, a digital and print sports betting platform, and was the Executive Sports Editor at Metro US Newspapers (New York, Philadelphia, Boston) from 2014-2020. Matt has covered Super Bowls and Final Fours, and his work has appeared for Sports Illustrated, CBS Sports, the Eagle Tribune, Gloucester Daily Times and Newburyport Daily News. Matt is a graduate of the University of Connecticut.

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