College basketball is well underway and sportsbooks have had national title odds up for months. Gonzaga has the lowest odds to cut down the nets as they sit at +600 at DraftKings Sportsbook. Duke, Purdue and Baylor were are also perched at the top of the boards. Below is a look at March Madness odds for the 2021-22 college basketball campaign.
NCAA Tournament Odds
Odds to win college basketball’s National Title in 2022. Click on the March Madness odds you like to bet now.
2022 NCAA Tournament Favorites
Gonzaga (): While star Jalen Suggs and All-American Corey Kispert are gone for the NBA, leading scorer Drew Timme is back, along with one of the nation’s top recruiting classes, including Chet Holmgren– a 7-foot-1 center that’s ranked the nation’s top recruit. The Zags have already dominated UCLA and Texas, respectively, and are starting to see their perimeter shots drop in WCC play. This team has the makings of a title contender once again, but there’s so much parity across college basketball.
Duke (): Paulo Banchero, the Blue Devils five-star freshman and Trevor Keels lead an explosive offense that can switch everything at the other end of floor, generating plenty of matchup problems. Duke already possesses a marquee win versus aforementioned Gonzaga, in which Duke guard Wendell Moore was masterful at both ends of the floor. A fairy tale ending might be in store for Mike Krzyzewski. Nevertheless, Duke’s transition defense is its biggest liability, along with its half-court offense in late-game situations.
Purdue (): The Boilermakers lost to North Texas in the Round of 64, but Matt Painter’s team possesses plenty of chemistry to bounce back and make a deep run in the dance. Sophomore guard Jaden Ivey has take a major leap, and Purdue also showcases elite big men in Trevion Williams and Zach Edey. Painter has never advanced to the Final Four in his coaching career, and he needs to find a set rotation to do just that. March Madness odds for this team to win it all have shortened since the end of last season (+2500).
Baylor (): Scott Drew’s team isn’t playing like it lost four of five starters from its national title team a season ago. The Bears boast an elite defense once again, and Arizona transfer James Akinjo has clearly bought into Drew’s no-middle philosophy. They held Villanova to its lowest scoring output under Jay Wright in their dominant non-conference victory on Dec. 12. We haven’t seen a program repeat since Florida in 2006-07, but Baylor could do just that. Its recent losses to Texas Tech and Oklahoma State are concerning, though.
Kansas (): It was a rough 2020-21 season for blue-blood programs and Kansas was no exception, being trounced in the Round of 32 by USC. Still, the Jayhawks are returning four of their top five players (Ochai Agbaji, David McCormick, Jalen Wilson and Christian Braun). They have a lethal backcourt combo of Arizona State transfer Remy Martin and Dajaun Harris as well. Bill Self has the pieces necessary to cut down the nets for the first time since 2008, yet big man David McCormack needs to showcase some consistency first.
Arizona (): The Wildcats have outperformed their 80-1 preseason futures odds in a big way, showcasing wins over Illinois and Michigan thus far. Among the contenders, first-year coach Tommy Lloyd presents the lengthiest team — with Azulolas Tubelis blossoming into a two-way star. But they’ve tallied 70 combined turnovers in their last four games, and that area needs to get fixed.
Kentucky (): The Wildcats have arguably been the most impressive team since conference play officially began. TheLines lead writer Eli Hershkovich was all over the Wildcats at their buy-low point in the season.
Auburn (): Alan Flannigan, the Tigers’ top returning scorer (14.3 ppg), missed the first chunk of the season while recovering from surgery on his damaged right Achilles tendon. But Bruce Pearl’s squad is rounding into form, and it correlates with North Carolina transfer Walker Kessler breaking out at both ends. With an explosive backcourt the backcourt, the Tigers have a real shot to return to the Final Four for the second time under Pearl.
Tennessee (): Even though the Vols lost three of their four leading scorers from last season, freshman Kennedy Chandler (No. 1 point guard in 2021 recruiting class) gives Rick Barnes and opportunity to turn back to his pick-and-roll offense from his days with D.J. Augustin at Texas. Tennessee’s ceiling correlates to whether Chandler can reach his.
UConn (): The Huskies are on COVID pause, but they still looked the part in a road loss at West Virginia and a win over St. Bonaventure on a neutral floor. Moreover, their three losses have come by a combined 11 points. Danny Hurley’s lead guard R.J. Cole is back to his scoring ways from his days at Howard, and UConn’s length will be difficult to match up against come the big dance.
NCAA Tournament Regional Breakdown
San Francisco (March 24 and 26)
San Antonio (March 24 and 26)
Philadelphia (March 25 and 27)
Chicago (March 25 and 27)
New Orleans (April 2 and 4)
First round seed matchups, history
TheLines offers a look back at the history of all of the first round seed matchups. Check them out here:
March Madness betting sites
How the NCAA Tournament works
March Madness is a 68-team, single-elimination tournament that annually crowns college basketball’s NCAA Division 1 men’s national champion.
The event is aptly named, considering it features a frenetic 67 games over a 19-day period. The participating schools are announced on “Selection Sunday”, along with the exact seeding and brackets.
The annual college basketball rite of spring is sports betting’s most prolific multi-day event. Below you’ll find the current betting odds for the favorites to win the NCAA Tournament, along with key tournament details and betting strategy to help you during the month-long madness.
The first 32 teams to gain entry into the tournament do so automatically by winning their conferences. The remaining 36 slots are filled by “at-large” teams. A 10-member selection committee consisting of athletic directors and conference commissioners undergoes an arduous and multi-layered process to determine the 36 at-large teams and subsequently finalize seeding and brackets.
This year, the committee will employ the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) as its primary sorting method for determining at-large entrants. The NET replaces the RPI (Rating Percentage Index), which had been utilized since 1981.
The NET utilizes the following metrics:
- Game results
- Strength of schedule
- Game location
- Scoring margin
- Offensive and defensive efficiency
- Quality of wins and losses
The NCAA has a detailed, step-by-step breakdown of seeding and bracket protocol on this page within its website.
March Madness betting history
The first NCAA basketball tournament took place in 1939 in Evanston, Illinois. Since then, 36 teams have won it all and five teams have won the tournament at least five times (Indiana, Duke, UNC, Kentucky, UCLA). Since seeding began in 1979, number-one seeds have won the tournament 24 times and have accounted for almost 49% of all championship appearances. Just three times has a team seeded lower than four won the title, and no team seeded below eighth has won, nor made a championship appearance.
Since betting lines were released for NCAA tournament games in 1985, underdogs in March Madness odds have covered 44% of the time, winning outright 29% of the time. Games have gone under the total in 56% of games. Since 2010, games have gone under the total in 70% of games and favorites have covered in seven out of ten games. Three teams have won more than one championship since 2010 (Duke, UConn, Villanova), but none have won back-to-back titles (despite Butler & UNC appearing in back-to-back title games).
Since 2000, the top overall seed has made the championship game just four times but won the game three of those times (75%). In total, top overall seeds in the tournament have comprised of just 8% of the total Final Four teams (missed 13 out of 20 years). Besides 1-seeds, 2-seeds have the most championship appearances since 2000 (7 times), followed by 3-seeds (6 times), and 5- and 8-seeds (2).
Just eight percent (52/640) of all Sweet 16 teams have been seeded 11 or lower, and only 2.8% of teams in the Elite Eight were seeded 11 or lower. Four 11 seeds advanced to the Final Four (Loyola Chicago, 2018; VCU, 2011; George Mason, 2006; LSU, 1986). UMBC is the only 16-seed to upset a 1-seed in the tournament’s history (2018), and just eight 15-seeds have prevailed (5%). In 2015, two 15-seeds upset 2-seeds (25% of all such upsets) and two 14-seeds upset 3-seeds.
Using historical data when filling out brackets and betting March Madness, err caution; stats should be used in the long-run but when choosing individual games, be sure to study matchup statistics. The most important thing to remember, though, is this is March Madness, and anything can (and will) happen.
Tournament betting strategies
The historical ATS data for each team in tournament play is just one of countless data points that can constitute March Madness odds betting research. Other factors that can hold considerable relevance include:
- A team’s late-season performances, including in their conference tournament
- Key injuries
- A team’s defensive proficiency, as this typically has more carryover into tournament play than a high-powered offense
- “Fading the public” when the line appears to be significantly affected by a team’s popularity, as opposed to actual recent performance
- Examining various tournament-specific historical trends, such as how high-seeded mid-majors have done in each round in terms of straight-up wins and losses.
Another overarching data set that could prove highly valuable is the performance of each seed in each round versus the spread. Courtesy of BoydsBets.com, below is an overview of historical first-round performance by seeds 1-16 against the number:[table “” not found /]
Where can you legally wager on March Madness this year?
Bettors physically located within the following states will be able to place a legal sports wager on March Madness games:
- Colorado Sportsbooks
- Illinois Sportsbooks
- Indiana Sportsbooks
- Iowa Sportsbooks
- Michigan Sportsbooks
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey Sportsbooks
- New Mexico
- New York Sportsbooks
- Pennsylvania Sportsbooks
- Rhode Island
- Tennessee Sportsbooks
- West Virginia Sportsbooks
- Virginia Sportsbooks
Then, there will be a flurry of sports betting legalization efforts unfolding at statehouses around the country during 2020 legislative sessions. Thus, hundreds of thousands of potential new bettors are expected to be part of the fun when the 2021 version of March Madness rolls around.
Based on recent progress and momentum, many states appear to have at least a fighting chance of implementing legalized sports betting in time for next year’s tournament.