The 2020-21 college basketball season is volatile except for two teams. Gonzaga and Baylor remain unbeaten and have maintained their clear spot atop the rankings. The big online betting story at the moment is less about the trustworthy and reliable top two, and much more about the chaos and volatility involving all the other teams in the hunt for a berth in the Final Four and a chance at the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
Odds To Win National Championship: +280
The Zags are doing nothing wrong, nothing to suggest that they should be downgraded or devalued. They keep humming along and winning games by comfortable margins. One point of intrigue for Gonzaga is the team’s schedule in a pandemic. With lots of teams having games postponed or canceled due to COVID-19 issues involving their opponents, there are chances for teams to reschedule games on short notice. One example comes from the ACC, where Virginia was scheduled to play Louisville Saturday but was informed that Louisville had a COVID-19 problem. Pittsburgh was scheduled to play Florida State, but the Panthers were informed Florida State had a COVID-19 problem. Virginia and Pittsburgh agreed to play to move pieces around. Gonzaga could play another top team if the scheduling nuances fit properly. That point aside, the Zags remain one of the two teams completely expected to make the Final Four and, probably, the national championship game.
Odds To Win National Championship: +350
The Bears, like Gonzaga, remain unbeaten and have done nothing to indicate they should be questioned as a top-two team in the country. Jared Butler is the big-shot taker and big-shot maker who makes sure that when the game is getting close, the Bears can stop a run and win games without too much drama. Texas Tech gave Baylor a tough game a few weeks ago, but Baylor won that game with a small cushion. The Bears are not only winning regularly in the tough Big 12 Conference; they’re doing so without any game going down to the final 30 seconds. Baylor has every game wrapped up with around one minute left.
Odds To Win National Championship: +800
The Wildcats are part of the reality of chaos below the two titans from Gonzaga and Baylor. Villanova was tripped up by St. John’s on Wednesday night, which undercuts the argument that Villanova belongs in the same discussion as Gonzaga and Baylor. That plainly is not the case. Villanova is several notches below the Zags and Bears, and the Wildcats have to find a way to regroup. What is also concerning for Villanova as far as its NCAA Tournament chances is that the Wildcats are part of a Big East Conference which is moving in the wrong direction. Seton Hall and Creighton are eating some bad losses. Villanova might not get the kinds of challenges it needs before the NCAA Tournament to be battle-tested and fully ready for March Madness.
Odds To Win National Championship: +1000
The Wolverines remain atop the Big Ten, so they are in line for a No. 1 seed, given that the Big Ten is an extremely deep and tough conference which will give its teams lots of chances for quality wins. Michigan has handled the Big Ten better than anyone else thus far, so the Wolverines have the inside track to a top seed on Selection Sunday when the NCAA brackets are revealed. That said, Michigan needs another good month of results to maintain that top seeding position. In the Big Ten, the quality of opposition is so good that a strong team can still lose two straight games without playing terribly. Michigan will have to maintain its Final Four-level quality if it wants a top seed and – conceptually – an extra good chance of advancing to the Final Four.
Odds To Win National Championship: +1300
The Hawkeyes fought off a challenge from Michigan State on Tuesday, but the path doesn’t get any easier for them on Thursday against Ohio State in a matchup of two teams ranked in the top 10 in the polls. Iowa then goes to Indiana on Sunday to play the Hoosiers, who beat Iowa a few weeks ago and will be gunning for a sweep. Iowa is taking everyone’s best shot in the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes are a target because of their high national ranking, and because they have the National Player of the Year favorite, big man Luka Garza.
Odds To Win National Championship: +1500
The Longhorns shot over 50 percent from the field against Baylor earlier this week, but still lost at home. Texas did not play terribly, however. It was simply a matter of Baylor being too good, too deep, and too strong. The Longhorns have a Final Four-level team. They need to get in a region without Baylor and Gonzaga, and they have a real chance to reach the final weekend of the college basketball season.
Odds To Win National Championship: +1700
The Cougars suffered a brutal loss on Wednesday night to East Carolina. The Pirates are ranked outside the top 150 in the NET rankings used to measure teams through the prism of analytics. That loss is going to drag down Houston a few seeding positions. The Cougars were likely to be a No. 2 seed before the loss. Now they are more likely to be a No. 3 seed instead, and they might even fall to a No. 4 seed, which means they would have to play a No. 1 seed in the Sweet 16 instead of the Elite Eight. That’s a bad situation for Houston, which can’t lose any more games if it wants to get back to a No. 2 seed position before Selection Sunday.
Odds To Win National Championship: +1700
The Illini won a tough overtime game against Indiana on Tuesday in a rugged Big Ten Conference. Illinois is surviving in the Big Ten, but big man Kofi Cockburn is erratic in his performances. When he is great, this team is very dangerous, but when Cockburn gets outplayed, this team usually loses. Illinois has to be less dependent on one player and get more contributions elsewhere in its lineup.
Alabama Crimson Tide
Odds To Win National Championship: +2000
The Crimson Tide lost to Oklahoma but bounced back against LSU. This team plays great defense but can bog down at the offensive end of the floor. That will be the challenge for this team in March, but it is clearly going to win the SEC regular-season championship.
Odds To Win 2021 NCAA Tournament: +2000
The Cavaliers lost at Virginia Tech this past Saturday, surrendering a 24-10 scoring run at one point. The Cavaliers bounced back to beat North Carolina State on Wednesday night, but there is still a sense that this team doesn’t have the elite offense needed to make the Final Four. It is not Tony Bennett’s best team at Virginia, even though it is still in first place in the ACC.
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