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2021 NCAA Tournament Power Rankings | Animals at the Top

Towards March Madness

The 2020-2021 college basketball season is now at the end of February. The final weekend of the month is coming up. March is just days away, and you know what that means: Conference tournaments will start very soon. Championship Week is almost here. Then comes March Madness, which American sports fans have longed for with a deep passion after the 2020 NCAA Tournament was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Let’s see what movement is occurring in the national championship online betting odds listed in the BetUS sportsbook with the season about to enter its final month.

NCAA Tournament Power Rankings

Gonzaga Bulldogs

The Zags are still at the top of the leaderboard, partly because Baylor has been on an extended COVID-19 pause and has not had a chance to gain meaningful ground. Gonzaga is tending to its business quietly and comfortably. There is a widespread expectation that Gonzaga will win its first two NCAA Tournament games very easily and will enter the Sweet 16 without a loss. In many ways, we’re all waiting until that moment in late March, when we will find out if this team is as dominant as it appears to be, or if there is a hidden underbelly which opponents can somehow get to and exploit.

Head coach Mark Few of Gonzaga Bulldogs huddles with players during a timeout in the 2nd half. Read our 2021 NCAA Tournament power rankings.
William Mancebo / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

Baylor Bears

    • Odds To Win National Championship: +300

The Baylor Bears have been on a long COVID-19 pause. They returned from that pause earlier this week and looked very shaky against the Iowa State Cyclones. That sluggish performance worried some people, but it’s probably just a product of the long interruption of the season and the disruptions involved in trying to remain sharp during a pandemic. Baylor will get to play a few more games before the Big 12 Tournament and the NCAA Tournament. Barring a significant and continued lack of top form, Baylor should be completely fine. The Bears are still an overwhelming favorite to make the Final Four, and they are still expected by most to play Gonzaga for the title. 

Michigan Wolverines

Odds To Win National Championship: +600

The Wolverines made the biggest jump of any team on this list over the past week. They were priced at +900, but now they are at +600. There’s an obvious and simple reason for this: The Wolverines went into Columbus and beat the Ohio State Buckeyes in a battle of potential No. 1 seeds. Michigan took a very big step toward a top seed with a 92-87 win in a very well-played game. Michigan received balanced production from its lineup and made Ohio State work for every shot and every basket.

The Wolverines were viewed for most of the season as a team which was several notches below Gonzaga and Baylor. Some analysts and experts still think this is the case, but some pundits and commentators think that Michigan belongs in an elevated top three alongside Gonzaga and Baylor. This is in many ways the biggest debate going on right now in college basketball: Is Michigan part of a big three, or is UM still a cut below Gonzaga and Baylor? Opinions are divided on this topic, but there is no question that Michigan has significantly improved its national profile and risen on a lot of odds lists.

Villanova Wildcats

Odds To Win National Championship: +1200

The Wildcats play in a Big East Conference which might put only three teams into the 2021 NCAA Tournament: Villanova, Creighton, and Connecticut. Seton Hall, St. John’s and Xavier are profoundly struggling at the moment. Therefore, if Villanova isn’t being tested by top teams, how can the Wildcats say they are ready for all the twists and turns and uncomfortable moments which are a part of March Madness? Villanova does not seem to be playing like the fourth-best team in the country. That will have to change very quickly if the Wildcats want national respect.

Iowa Hawkeyes

Odds To Win National Championship: +1600

The Hawkeyes had a good week this past week, but now they face Michigan and Ohio State – two potential No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament – over the next few days. Iowa would love a split. That would be a great result under the circumstances. Let’s see if this team can deliver, which would make sure the Hawkeyes get a top-three seed in the NCAA Tournament. They don’t want to fall back to a No. 4 seed, since a No. 4 seed has to play a No. 1 seed in the Sweet 16. A No. 3 seed would mean Iowa could avoid a top seed until the Elite Eight round.

Illinois Illini

Odds To Win National Championship: +1800

The Illini lost decisively to a mediocre Michigan State team which is currently headed for the NIT. Michigan State could still make the NCAA Tournament over the next few weeks, but the Spartans would have to go on a very impressive run and make virtually no mistakes down the stretch. Illinois was viewed to be a contender for a No. 1 seed heading into that game. The Illini, by stumbling so badly against Michigan State, have likely played their way out of a No. 1 seed in March Madness. Illinois would have to get on a roll and win the Big Ten Tournament in order to have any slight remaining chance at a No. 1 seed.

Ohio State Buckeyes

Odds To Win National Championship: +1800

The Buckeyes lost to Michigan this past Sunday, but they were close. The game went down to the wire and was one of the best contests in college basketball this season. Ohio State could still get a No. 1 seed. The Buckeyes would like their chances under such a scenario, since being a No. 1 seed would mean independence from Baylor, Gonzaga and Michigan, the presumptive No. 1 seeds in the other three regions of the NCAA Tournament bracket.

Houston Cougars

Odds To Win National Championship: +1800

The Cougars are still reeling from a recent loss to Wichita State. This team plays hard and has great energy, but its offense – specifically its shooting – can still betray Houston in a single-elimination situation. Houston also doesn’t play in a very strong conference (the AAC), which is not helping the Cougars to toughen up before March arrives.

Alabama Crimson Tide

Odds To Win National Championship: +2000

The Crimson Tide lost on Wednesday night to Arkansas after barely skating by against Vanderbilt. This team looks tired and certainly needs something to refresh its outlook and create a spark. Alabama will still be a high NCAA Tournament seed, but the Tide aren’t playing like an elite team right now.

West Virginia Mountaineers

Odds To Win National Championship: +2200

The Mountaineers came back from 19 points down to beat Texas this past Saturday. They beat TCU on Tuesday. Coming up next week, West Virginia faces Baylor in a huge test just before the Big 12 and NCAA Tournaments. West Virginia could play its way into a higher seed and maybe a chance at a deep run in the March Madness brackets.

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