Can Mark Few lead Gonzaga back to the Final Four? Photo by @FoxSportsRadio (Twitter)
- The 2020-21 college basketball season tips off Nov. 25 and is set to wrap April 5 in Indianapolis
- Baylor, Gonzaga, and Villanova are co-favorites (all at +950) to cut down the nets at Lucas Oil Stadium
- Read below for odds and analysis on the top teams heading into the upcoming NCAA hoops season
After its longest offseason in history, college basketball is set to return on Thanksgiving Eve.
The coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 NCAA Tournament and spurred changes to the upcoming campaign. Now, with the sport’s normal bluebloods listed as favorites, anticipation is high for the 2020-21 season.
2021 NCAA Tournament Odds
Odds taken Nov. 20 at FanDuel
Kansas was the favorite heading into last year’s tournament. The Jayhawks are in the mix again this season, but Villanova is the chalk in our 2021 March Madness title odds. Baylor and Gonzaga are listed as co-favorites with the Wildcats, who won it all in 2016 and 2018. The Bears and Bulldogs also sit atop the KenPom.com ratings, with Duke, ‘Nova, and KU rounding out the top-5.
So, how will this unique season shake out?
2021 NCAA Men’s Tournament Championship Odds Tracker
We know the maximum number of games allowed for teams will be no more than 25. Programs may also participate in only one multiple-team event. The season was originally set to begin Nov. 10 with the Champions Classic involving Duke, Michigan State, Kansas, and Kentucky. Now, three of those teams open the reduced slate at home against smaller schools on Wednesday, with preseason No. 1 Gonzaga taking on No. 6 Kansas on Thanksgiving Day in Fort Myers, Florida.
Let’s analyze some of the notable future prices on the board.
The only thing left to do on Mark Few’s already impressive resume is to win an NCAA title. He’ll have a great chance yet again this season.
This year’s roster has a good balance of experience (returning players like forward Corey Kispert, who averaged 14 points per game last season, and Joel Ayayi, who put up over 10 points per game last year), and incoming talent (including five-star recruit guard Jalen Suggs).
The Zags will be tested right out of the game by a stacked KU club led by defensive whiz Marcus Garrett. The loser of that Turkey Day tilt shouldn’t see their title odds drop too much. But, the winner will certainly see a bump.
I loved Gonzaga last season, and I love them again this season. Yes, the program said goodbye to WCC Player of the Year Filip Petrusev and Killian Tillie. But, simply put, Few is due.
Former eastern Washington coaching counterpart Tony Bennett (who roamed the Washington State sideline in Pullman prior to landing in Charlottesville) finally broke through and won a title at Virginia in 2019, Now, it’s Few’s turn.
When considering the next tier of contenders, bettors should invest in Illinois at +1500 for two reasons.
Add it to the list! @kxng_alpha and @AyoDos_11 have been named to the @NaismithTrophy Watch List! #Illini | #EveryDayGuys pic.twitter.com/QlgGPHtzbZ
— Illinois Basketball (@IlliniMBB) November 19, 2020
With point guard Ayo Dosunmu and seven-foot Kofi Cockburn back for Brad Underwood’s team, the Fighting Illini are poised to not only qualify for their first Big Dance since 2013 but make a deep run. Illinois has over 70-percent of its minutes returning from last year’s 21-10 squad, and as I wrote recently, they’re deserving of the preseason hype.
The Illini aren’t rated as high on KenPom.com as some of the other teams on the board (they’re at No. 17, behind teams like Wisconsin, Creighton, and West Virginia), but Dosunmu and Cockburn’s star power are undeniable.
Love It in Lubbock
If you’re looking for a relative deep-sleeper, look no further than the school the Cavaliers beat in the most recent national championship game.
Baylor and Kansas may garner most of the attention in the Big 12. But at +2800, I love Texas Tech in our preseason odds.
Tech is rated No. 17 in longtime NCAA hoops writer Andy Katz’s preseason Power 36 and features players like VCU transfer Marcus Santos-Silva, Kyler Edwards, and Avery Benson. All are incredibly talented players who could deliver a third-straight Elite Eight (and maybe more) appearance for the program.
Chris Beard’s unit is rated No. 6 on KenPom.com — one of FIVE teams in the top-10 from a stacked Big 12.
That type of league parity should serve the Red Raiders all the way to Indy.
Blair Johnson is a veteran journalist and seasoned sports content creator. He has been writing and producing content as long as he can remember, with such familiar names as CNN, NFL Media and Yahoo. Blair currently lives and works in the greater Los Angeles area.