While the coronavirus pandemic has thrown everything about live sports for an unpredictable whirl, one thing is for certain: There will be some sort of college basketball season. We can't be sure how it will unfold, or whether March Madness will even take place, but NCAA basketball futures are available, and we're going to take advantage of them.
Before we get to our favorite potential picks to win the 2021 National Championship, let's take a look at the latest odds, courtesy of Bovada:
These college basketball lines are extremely fluid, particularly during this time of uncertainty, so make sure you're double-checking them before deciding on any wagers. In the meantime, here are our favorite NCAA National Championship picks.
2021 NCAAB Championship Picks
1. Michigan Wolverines (+2500)"Michigan Wolverines" by MGoBlog is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
Losing Zavier Simpson and Jon Teske from last year’s roster comes as a blow to the Wolverines’ stock, but they have the leftover talent to navigate it.
Enough of the players from this past season remain on the roster, which should ensure they don’t have to rework too much of their offense. Equally important, they landed five-star recruit Isaiah Todd, who’s considered a top 2021 NBA draft prospect, in addition to another four-star freshman.
With so many viable rotation players in the mix, both new and returning, the Wolverines are poised to obliterate last year’s 10-10 record and ninth-place finish in the Big Ten Conference. Oddsmakers are clearly hedging their bets by giving them medium-long-shot odds. It's not a bad idea to consider pouncing on them.
2. Baylor Bears (+1100)
The Bears have a few things going for them entering the 2021 campaign.
First and foremost, last year’s leading scorer, Jared Butler, will be coming back. He averaged 16.0 points per game while hitting 38.1 percent of his threes when we last saw him. Having him gives the Bears’ offense a primary point of attack.
Next, the Bears have landed a five-star recruit and two four-star recruits since the 2019-20 crusade, nearly all of whom excel on defense. And that brings us to their final dose of upside: Their defense ranked ninth in the nation last season, and they’re poised to match if improve upon, that finish now.
Granted, at +1100, Baylor is not the most lucrative play. It makes some sense to consider waiting and seeing whether this will inch closer to a 12- or 14-to-1 payout. Still, we love them overall.
3. Villanova Wildcats (+700)
Three things in life are givens: Death, taxes, and the Wildcats being among the top favorites to win the next National Championship.
Okay, we're kidding. For the most part. But Villanova deserves your consideration, even if you're not too thrilled in potentially investing in the overall title favorite.
Collin Gillespie. Jermain Samuels. Three four-star recruits. It all adds up to another title chase for the Villanova Wildcats.
Indeed, some might worry that they’re losing Saddiq Bey and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl to the NBA draft. That’s not unfair. But as currently constructed, the Wildcats have more off-the-dribble shot creation on offense and just as much defensive juice as they did before. They’re going to be fine.
4. Gonzaga Bulldogs (+1000)"Steven Gray of the Gonzaga Bulldogs" by Dirk DBQ is licensed under CC BY 2.0
A lot of people would have the Bulldogs higher on this list. They've become a trendy title pick in recent months, and that's not about to change when they still pay out 10-to-1. We're not quite as high on them, but we recognize they deserve this level of recognition.
Star power is available in shorter supply within Gonzaga's rotation, but they have an obscene amount of depth to make up for it. And they have enough returning talent in Corey Kispert, Filip Petrusev, Drew Timme, and Joel Ayayi to trust in their continuity.
Not to be lost amid all this: They may have won the National Championship last year, had they been given the opportunity. According to the Simple Rating System, a measurement that ranks teams by point differential and strength of schedule, they graded out as the second-best team in the country during the 2019-20 campaign. That they’re returning so much of that roster is a big deal—and they're adding stud freshman Jalen Suggs to the fold to boot.
Overall, then, we strongly endorse investments in them, so long as they remain at +1000 or higher. If they start inching closer to Villanova territory, feel free to rethink any potential bets.
5. Creighton Bluejays (+2500)
Other colleges have stronger freshman classes entering the mix compared to that from the Bluejays. They have only three new recruits, just two of whom own four-star rankings.
We fail to see how this is a problem. The only reason Creighton has so few recruits is that they didn’t need them. They have enough of last year’s roster coming back to angle for more of the same. And more of the same would mean winning the Big East while securing a top seed for the March Madness tournament.
Keep a close eye on Marcus Zegarowski. The junior is a fantastic passer and budding scorer who will have a legitimate chance at winning Big East Player of the Year. Last season, he put up 16.1 points and 5.0 assists per while drilling 54.6 percent of his two-pointers and a ridiculous 42.4 percent of his triples. And it's possible he could be even better now.
Check out the below list of the best online sportsbooks so you can decide which one to use for your 2020-21 college basketball betting: