Opening Odds for 2021 NCAA Tournament: Virginia Favored, Longshot Tar Heels Could Bounce Back

  • Virginia (+900) opened as the early favorite to win the 2021 college basketball national title
  • Gonzaga, Kansas and Michigan State are all overvalued at +1000 with key contributors set to leave each team
  • Kentucky (+1200), Duke (+1400) and North Carolina (+2000) have the top three recruiting classes in the nation

If COVID-19 hadn’t busted all of our brackets, the NCAA Final Four would have tipped off in Atlanta this Saturday with a new national champion being crowned on Monday.

But instead of Dickie V, we’re left to flip between Tiger King, Ozark and a library of  classic games that, no matter how good they are, don’t fill the empty hole in our sports-betting hearts.

There are odds on next year’s tournament, however, so close your eyes and once again imagine a world of full arenas, lively school bands, beautiful cheerleaders and a full buffet of games to gamble on.

Let’s look at the board for the 2021 NCAA Championship and breakdown the favorites.


Team Odds
Virginia +900
Gonzaga +1000
Kansas +1000
Michigan State +1000
Kentucky +1200
Duke +1400
Baylor +1600
Creighton +1600
Florida State +2000
North Carolina +2000
Wisconsin +2000
Villanova +2200
Dayton +2500
Florida +2500
Louisville +2500
San Diego State +2500
Texas +2500
Texas Tech +2500
Michigan +2800


The Cavaliers (+900) will enter another year as the reigning champions. While they only ranked No. 17 in the last AP Top 25 poll, Tony Bennett’s boys won 11 of their final 12 games. Virginia will also be adding three four-star recruits and Marquette transfer Sam Hauser to a talented foundation headed by all-ACC point guard Kihei Clark and seven-footer Jay Huff.

Gonzaga and Kansas were the most impressive teams in college basketball this season, but both are way overvalued at +1000. After going 31-2 while scoring the most points-per-game in the country (87.4), the Bulldogs will be without Killian Tillie, Admon Gilder, Ryan Woolridge and (probably) Filip Petrusev next year.

Meanwhile, it’s a lost season for a 28-3 Jayhawks club that was riding a 16-game winning streak. The No. 1 team in the final AP poll and the heavy betting favorite before March Madness was cancelled, Kansas will lose big man Udoka Azubuike and guard Devon Dotson to the NBA Draft. Bill Self’s incoming recruiting class also ranks a woeful 16th.


Michigan State never quite lived up to the preseason hype, but with five straight wins at season’s end, they were finally rounding into form. Now that Tom Izzo has to wave goodbye to senior point guard Cassius Winston, the Spartans have far too many chinks in their armor to justify being at +1000.

As always, Coach Cal and Coach K are bringing in the No. 1- and No. 2-ranked recruiting classes in 2021, but keep in mind that the one-and-done strategy hasn’t been all that kind to either school lately, with Kentucky (+1200) last winning a national championship in 2012 and Duke (+1400) in 2015.

After suffering a downright embarrassing year where they went 14-19 overall and 6-14 in the ACC, North Carolina (+2000) is probably the best value among the blue-blood programs.

With Roy Williams bringing in a No. 3-ranked prospect pool highlighted by five-star recruits Day’Ron Sharpe, Walker Kessler, and Caleb Love, the Tar Heels should bounce back strong in 2021.


Steve Starr

Steve is one of the many Americans who spends Sunday watching football on the couch and gorging on heart-clogging eats. He describes himself as a good father, great dog owner, and mediocre gambler and husband.

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