Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:51 AM

2021 NCAA Tournament Best Bets & Props

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Filling out a March Madness bracket can be both time consuming and mind-numbing, but there's always futures bets to consider as well. goes through the best futures wagers to consider for the 2021 NCAA Tournament, another way to win money without submitting brackets.  

How Many No. 1 Seeds Reach Final Four?

Everyone is in agreeance that Gonzaga, Baylor, Michigan, and Illinois deserved to be the four No. 1 seeds entering the NCAA Tournament. However, that doesn’t mean that these are clearly the best four teams in the country.

Gonzaga will probably make it to the Final Four. The Bulldogs didn’t drop a game all year, and they beat some real talented teams in the process. They knocked off Kansas, Auburn, West Virginia, and Iowa to start the season, and they hammered Virginia at a neutral site too. However, the other three No. 1 seeds are a lot more vulnerable starting with Michigan. The Wolverines lost three of their final five games, and they were completely dismantled at home by Illinois. To make matters worse, they have likely lost standout forward Isaiah Livers for the duration of the NCAA Tournament due to a stress fracture in his foot.

This team has a great freshman center in Hunter Dickinson. However, we have seen this offense stagnate without Livers in the lineup, and Michigan isn’t as strong defensively as it was in the past. The Wolverines don’t force a lot of turnovers, and they are only average at defending perimeter shooters.

Alabama, Texas, and Florida State all have what it takes to beat Michigan, and BYU has the potential to pull off the upset if they meet in the Elite Eight too. Illinois earned the final No. 1 seed by beating Ohio State in overtime to win the Big Ten Conference Tournament. The Fighting Illini came on at the right time with 14 wins in their last 15 games, but this team needed overtime to beat non-tournament teams Indiana and Nebraska.

Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn are two of the best players in the country. However, the Fighting Illini don’t utilize the three-point line like other teams, and they don’t force turnovers on defense. Houston is a very dangerous No. 2 seed, and the Illini might have a very difficult second round test if Loyola Chicago beats Georgia Tech. Baylor hasn’t made it to the Final Four since 1950. The Bears have had some good teams under Scott Drew, but they have continually come up short in the NCAA Tournament. This is their best chance of returning to the Final Four as the Bears have never been a No. 1 seed before this season.

The Bears are the best three-point shooting team in the country. Jared Butler is knocking down 42.9% of his treys, and Matthew Mayer, Davion Mitchell, MaCio Teague, and Adam Flagler are all knocking down at least 38.6% of their threes. They are likely to be the pivot team in this bet, but they give up a lot of offensive rebounds and are inconsistent from the free throw line. Ohio State and Arkansas will both give Baylor a run for its money if they meet in the Elite Eight, and the Bears will have a tricky second round game no matter whether they play North Carolina or Wisconsin.

Best Bet: Under 1.5 (+155) 

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Will Gonzaga Make it to Elite Eight?

It’s really hard to go against the Zags. Mark Few might be ready to lead Gonzaga to its first national championship as the Bulldogs have been the best team in the country all season.

Gonzaga has four elite players in Drew Timme, Jalen Suggs, Corey Kispert, and Joel Ayayi. Kispert is the leader of the group as a senior, and he is knocking down an absurd 44.4% of his threes this season. He was the WCC Player of the Year after leading the team with 19.2 PPG.

Timme is a big man that has no problem creating his shot, making 65.6% of his field goals while ranking second on the team in scoring (18.7 PPG) and leads the Zags with 7.1 RPG. Suggs is one of the most talented freshmen in the country and can get off his own shot while stuffing the stat sheet (14.3 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 4.5 APG, and 2.0 SPG), and Ayayi is knocking down 58.3% of his field goals and 39.7% of his threes.

The Bulldogs have a little bit of depth, and they shouldn’t be tested on their way to the Elite Eight. Neither Norfolk State nor Appalachian State have the talent to test Gonzaga in the first round, and both Oklahoma and Missouri are clearly inferior teams in the second round. Creighton could present a bit of a challenge, but Virginia might make an early exit before the Sweet Sixteen as the Wahoos are dealing with COVID issues.

Best Bets: Yes -300

Advances Further: Creighton or Villanova

The loss of Collin Gillespie is massive for Villanova. Gillespie suffered a torn MCL against Creighton on March 3. He was the team’s leader as one of the two seniors on the roster. Gillespie was the Wildcats’ second leading scorer behind Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, and he led the team with 4.6 APG.

We saw this offense struggle without him in Villanova’s regular season finale against Providence and in the Wildcats’ Big East Conference Tournament loss to Georgetown in the quarterfinals. The offense wasn’t as crisp without Gillespie available to distribute and knock down threes, and his injury has also tested the depth.

Jay Wright was using a seven-man rotation for much of the year, and Gillespie was averaging 33.4 MPG.

The Wildcats have a tough first-round matchup against Winthrop. Many are calling for the Eagles to upset the Wildcats after going 23-1 in the regular season.

Creighton has a more manageable first-round opponent. The Bluejays will be facing UC Santa Barbara on Saturday. The Gauchos went 22-4 during the regular season, but they didn’t beat a team in the top 100 as the Big West was not a great conference.

Additionally, UC Santa Barbara scored a lot of baskets in transition, and that won’t be as easy against a solid team like the Bluejays. Marcus Zegarowski can stretch the floor and is knocking down 41.2% of his threes.

Mitch Ballock is a great three-point shooter too, helping make Creighton one of the most efficient offenses in the country.

Best Bets: Creighton -115

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