We still have a little bit of time before the bracket is released and the NCAA Tournament tips off, but it's never too early to take a look at the futures odds and make some March Madness betting picks for which program will win the national championship.
There is perhaps more excitement surrounding this year's event than any in recent memory. None of us will soon forget that last year's was canceled in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and getting the event back is a special thing for college basketball fans.
After missing out on what is normally an annual staple, many of us are ready to once again enjoy what is arguably the best part of the year from a sports perspective. That goes for sportsbooks as well, which were deprived of a major source of income without a tournament that pulls in a larger betting handle than any other sporting event on the calendar.
Thankfully, the big dance is back and we can once again do our best to prognosticate what will happen between March 19 and April 5.
Best Sportsbooks For March Madness Betting
While any sportsbook you choose will offer NCAA Tournament betting odds, not all sites are equal. Some sites have more beneficial lines and some March Madnesses bonuses are better than others whether you're a new or existing customer. The list of the best sportsbooks to bet with includes but is not limited to:
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For more information about wagering on the NCAA, visit our college basketball betting guide!
2021 March Madness Futures | Who Will Win the NCAA Basketball National Championship?
Once the field is set, 68 teams will have a chance to vie for the national championship. But in reality, we know that a much smaller number of programs have a legitimate chance of lifting the trophy in Indianapolis on April 5.
You can probably narrow the field down to 10 or 15 schools with a legitimate shot, with a half-dozen or so having a much better chance than the rest of the field. Below, we have listed out a few options we think are worthwhile to wager on, given the combination of overall team quality and the odds (all betting lines are from BetMGM Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook).
March Madness Betting Odds & Picks For National Champion
- Gonzaga Bulldogs (+300 at BetMGM)
As the favorite, Gonzaga doesn't have value compared to some other teams. You know what else they don't have? A loss this season. We can complain about their conference all we want but this team challenged itself with a tough non-conference schedule early on and still took care of business.
The Zags followed victories over Kansas, West Virginia, and Iowa with a dominant showcase through the West Coast Conference, winning every league game by double digits. This is the best adjusted offense in college basketball (according to KenPom) and a rare team that does it at the other end, ranking 10th in adjusted defense.
Gonzaga may have been overhyped in previous seasons but they're an excellent bet to get to the Final Four and if you think they can go that far, why not just take them to win the whole thing at +300?
- Baylor Bears (+300 at BetMGM)
It's tough to include another team with little value but the truth is that Gonzaga and Baylor are that far above everybody else. They are the best two teams in the NCAA and some would argue that with its Big 12 profile, the Bears are the superior club despite a few blemishes on the record.
If it came down to Baylor and the Zags in the final, nobody would be surprised and many (myself included) are probably taking Baylor. This is a well-rounded team with the second-most Quad 1 wins in the nation (11) and has played upper-echelon competition all season long and has been forced to rebound from adversity, something Gonzaga hasn't needed to do.
Baylor's little February skid may have been exactly what it needed to set things straight for March. Even with low odds of +275, the Bears have been dominant for almost the entire season and deserve consideration.
- Illinois Fighting Illini (+1300 at DraftKings)
KenPom stats are widely-respected in NCAA circles and they analyze several things including the strength of schedule of every team. The Big Ten is the best top-to-bottom conference in the nation so many of its teams are near the top, but nobody has played a tougher draw than Illinois.
Despite the constant gauntlet, Illinois went 15-4 in the league with an 8-3 road record, an impressive feat when considering how hard it is to win away from home in this conference. The Illini beat Michigan, the regular-season conference champion, without its best player and is rolling going into March.
At +1300, we'd keep an eye on Illinois and its lethal combination of Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn.
- Alabama Crimson Tide (+2000 at BetMGM)
Alabama is the SEC champion and it was well-deserved, as they went 15-2 in the league to tally a 20-win season. They are a well-balanced team that is among the best in their conference on both offense and defense, and it ranks third in adjusted defense among all NCAA programs.
Teams with strong defense and a good enough offense to win are always worth a look at this time of the season, perhaps more so than teams that can only excel on offense without ever clamping down. At +2000, Alabama could be one of those teams to target after you get past the top schools. They are as low as +1300 on some other sites.
- West Virginia Mountaineers (+2000 at DraftKings)
A couple of months ago, bettors probably weren't thinking about West Virginia from a national title picture. But any huge college basketball fan will tell you that a Bob Huggins-coached team is tough as nails and is made for March.
The offense is streaky and will need to get hot as the tournament approaches, there's no debating that. But we've seen the Mountaineers be versatile and win so many different ways over the course of the season and we can't help but think they've seen it all and could be primed for a huge run.
In a neutral location, which the NCAA Tournament is, West Virginia lost by five to Gonzaga in the closest game the top-ranked team has played all year. And Huggins' team has also shown a propensity to come from behind after erasing huge deficits against Texas and Oklahoma State, both on the road.
This is a top-10 team playing some of its best basketball of the season. The odds have recently dropped from +3000 to 2000, but we'll still take a shot with West Virginia.
March Madness Printable Bracket
The NCAA Tournament and March Madness are synonymous with bracket contests. Whether you're playing amongst friends, families, or co-workers, making your predicitons and filling out a bracket is part of what makes this time of year so much fun.
Even though you can fill out brackets online, there's something nostalgic and exciting about printing out a few blank brackets and going through the drafts before finalizing your selections. Luckily, BonusSeeker has the above bracket ready to be printed and filled out! So get yourself ready for Selection Sunday by printing a few March Madness brackets and start doing your Final Four research.
Photo Credit: Associated Press