NCAA Bracket 2021: Latest Bracketology and Early Championship Odds

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMarch 12, 2021

Iowa center Luka Garza reacts after making a basket during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Wisconsin, Sunday, March 7, 2021, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

NCAA tournament stocks continue to move ahead of Selection Sunday.

The Madness is already taking over March in college basketball, as men's and women's conference tournaments have witnessed stunning upsets, resume-boosters and a bunch of nail-biters.

This is like the holiday season for a college hoops junkie, and we're here to unwrap several gifts. We'll spotlight the latest expert bracketology predictions, then spotlight the latest championship odds from DraftKings sportsbook.

First, let's get to some goodies. Bleacher Report has all of your tournament needs covered here:

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Expert Bracketology Predictions

If you follow the art (science? guessing game?) of bracketology, then you're surely familiar with the work ESPN's Joe Lunardi.

So, why not peer into his bracket-predicting mind for a look at how the tournament field could shape up?

Based on Lunardi's latest projections, this is where the top six seeds stand across the bracket.

Region 1

No. 1 Gonzaga, No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 Kansas, No. 4 Purdue, No. 5 Florida State, No. 6 Oregon

The Zags would gladly take this draw as the top overall seed. Ohio State is as vulnerable as a No. 2 seed can get (losers of four of its last five), and Kansas already suffered a double-digit loss to Gonzaga this season.

Region 2

No. 1 Baylor, No. 2 Iowa, No. 3 Arkansas, No. 4 Virginia, No. 5 Creighton, No. 6 Oklahoma

This would be a doozy for the Bears. The Hawkeyes have the likely national player of the year in Luka Garza, the Razorbacks have an NBA draft lottery prospect in Moses Moody and the Cavaliers are technically the defending champs since last year's tournament was cancelled.

Region 3

No. 1 Michigan, No. 2 Houston, No. 3 West Virginia, No. 4 Oklahoma State, No. 5 Colorado, No. 6 Tennessee

The toughest test for Michigan here might come before the regional final. Houston has only played one ranked opponent all season, and West Virginia's early ouster from the Big 12 Tournament was its third loss in four games.

The last two of those defeats came at the hands of Oklahoma State, which features the top draft prospect in the country in Cade Cunningham. A Wolverines-Cowboys collision in the Sweet 16 could be sensational.

Region 4

No. 1 Illinois, No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Texas, No. 4 Villanova, No. 5 Texas Tech, No. 6 USC

Illini fans probably wouldn't hate this draw. That might partly be because they don't realize how good Alabama is—third-best defense in the country, according to KenPom.com—but also because Texas can be defeated (seven times so far) and Villanova lost second-leading scorer Collin Gillespie to a torn MCL.


Latest Championship Odds

Oddsmakers have spoken, and they agree: The Big Dance runs through Gonzaga. Unless it runs through Baylor. Or maybe Michigan.

Look, it's a little crowded at the top, but it's tough to have a prohibitive favorite in any single-elimination format.

Anyway, here's how DraftKings assesses the top 10 teams in the championship race:

  • Gonzaga: +250
  • Baylor: +275
  • Michigan: +450
  • Illinois: +900
  • Alabama: +1300
  • Oklahoma State: +1300
  • Iowa: +1500
  • Ohio State: +1500
  • Texas Tech: +1500
  • Texas: +1700

You know what's fun about this tournament? You can make a championship argument for every team on the list. In fact, we only need a sentence for each club to present their case.

Gonzaga is undefeated, has two first-round draft prospects (Jalen Suggs and Corey Kispert) and three Wooden Award finalists (those two plus Drew Timme). Baylor boasts loads of production and experience in the backcourt, starting with player of the year candidate Jared Butler. Michigan is the country's only team with top-six efficiency rankings on offense (sixth) and defense (fifth).

Illinois has two Wooden Award candidates in Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn. Alabama's defense is top-shelf, and senior forward Herbert Jones is a handful across the board. Oklahoma State has Cunningham, plus seven wins over its last eight games. Iowa has Garza, plus—wait for it—seven wins over its last eight games (four over ranked opponents).

Ohio State has the fourth-best offense in the country. Texas Tech can be a bulldozer when Mac McClung and Terrence Shannon Jr. get rolling on the same night. Texas could put two players in the NBA draft's first round (Kai Jones and Greg Brown), and the Longhorns have ample experience around their prized prospects.

Throw a dart at that list, and it will land on a sensible wager. This tournament should be a blast.


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