Bovada March Madness 2021
It’s March. You know what that means: The 2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament is taking over. March Madness is the biggest event on the sports betting landscape, with billions of dollars changing hands every year – and since last year’s tournament was canceled in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, March Madness should be even crazier this time around. NCAA basketball odds are on the board right now at Bovada Sportsbook; here’s a quick preview of the leading favorites, contenders and underdogs, including their records and their odds to win the National Championship as we go to press.
2021 NCAA Basketball Favorites and Odds
First off, we have three incredibly talented teams that have pulled away from the rest of the pack:
It’s been 45 years since a college basketball team went undefeated on the way to the title. Gonzaga (24-0 SU, 11-11-2 ATS) could end that drought on April 5 in Indianapolis. They’ve maintained top spot on the NCAA basketball lines since the early days of the regular season and won’t play again until the West Coast Conference Tournament semifinals on Monday, March 8 (9 PM ET, ESPN) in Las Vegas.
The Bears (19-1 SU, 14-6 ATS) were alone in second behind Gonzaga, but now they’ve got some company after suffering their first loss of the regular season, falling 71-58 to the Kansas Jayhawks (+5 at home) on February 27. Escaping the Big 12 unscathed was always a big ask; as long as Baylor perform at a high level during Champ Week, their NCAA basketball betting profile looks good heading into the big dance.
The Big Ten has been the toughest conference in college hoops this year, and the Wolverines (18-2 SU, 15-5 ATS) have been the best of the bunch. They’ve still got some work to do before Champ Week, but nobody in Division I can match Michigan’s special blend of offense and defense – sophomore guard Franz Wagner might even be the best two-way player in the nation.
2021 NCAA Basketball Contenders
The second tier of contenders on Bovada’s NCAA basketball odds board includes three teams who have built some serious betting value playing in the shadow of the aforementioned favorites:
As the No. 4 team in the rankings with the regular season drawing to a close, the Illini (19-6 SU, 15-9-1 ATS) are starting to get some attention, moving up from +1500 over the last 24 hours. They’ll get an even bigger push if they finish the year with a victory over the next team on our list.
Moving in the other direction are the Buckeyes (18-7 SU, 14-10-1 ATS), who have dropped their last three games straight up and against the spread to fall behind Illinois on the March Madness odds board. A top seed in the tournament could be on the line when these two teams meet on Saturday (4 PM ET, ESPN).
As usual, the preseason favorites from Villanova (15-4 SU, 10-8-1 ATS) have toiled in relative obscurity over in the Big East. But they’ve already won two titles under head coach Jay Wright, in 2016 and 2018, and the ‘Cats have enough offensive firepower to sneak away with a third next month.
2021 NCAA Basketball Underdogs
Everyone loves a good Cinderella story. If you’re looking for a long shot to cheer for, these three outsiders are playing at a much higher level than their NCAA basketball odds would indicate:
If defense wins championships, then Loyola-Chicago (21-4 SU, 13-9-1 ATS) are well on their way to their first national title since 1963. The Ramblers made it to the Final Four just three years ago. Their next step towards greatness will be Friday’s Missouri Valley Conference Tournament quarterfinal (12 PM ET, ESPN+).
Easily the best team in the Mountain West Conference, the Aztecs (19-4 SU, 13-9 ATS) are on a serious roll right now at 10-0 SU and 8-2 ATS. But can they make it past the Sweet Sixteen for the first time ever?
Nobody’s paying much attention to BYU (19-5 SU, 13-7-3 ATS). Like Gonzaga, the Cougars have earned a bye into the WCC semifinals; their game tips off Monday at 11:59 PM ET on ESPN2, so be prepared to stay up late if you want to check out one of college basketball’s hidden gems.
*Odds as of March 4, 2021
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How to Bet on College Basketball
If you’re wondering what all these numbers mean, no problem – NCAA basketball betting is both easy and a lot of fun, once you know how the odds work. Here are the different types of NCAAB lines you’ll find at Bovada Sportsbook:
Most sports fans have heard of the point spread; instead of winning straight-up, the favored team has to win their game by at least a pre-determined number of points in order to “cover the spread” and pay out their supporters. On the flip side, the underdog can lose by up to that number and still cover. If the favorite wins by exactly the posted spread, it’s a “push,” and bettors get their money back.
Here’s what the spread looked like at Bovada for the incredible 2016 National Championship Game between Villanova and North Carolina:
Villanova +3 (-110)
North Carolina -3 (-110)
The Tar Heels were listed at the bottom here, being the designated home team at NRG Stadium in Houston. They were also favored by three points, as you can tell by the negative sign next to their spread; that means they needed to beat Villanova by at least four points to cover. The Wildcats, with the positive sign, were 3-point underdogs, and would have covered even if they had lost by two points.
The numbers you see in parentheses above refer to the juice, which is displayed using American odds at Bovada. The juice is –110 for most basketball games, meaning you bet $110 to win $100 (or $11 to win $10, or any multiple thereof).
Keep in mind that the sportsbook has the option of moving the spread (including the juice) at any time after the NCAAB odds first hit the board, up until just before tip-off. This is usually done to encourage equal action on both teams. The odds you get when you make your pick are the odds used to determine whether you get paid, and how much; in this case, Villanova won 77-74 on a Kris Jenkins buzzer-beating three to seal the victory for Wildcat supporters.
Before there was a point spread, people simply bet on which team would win outright. Many basketball fans still do. Here’s the moneyline for that Villanova-North Carolina game:
North Carolina -145
By default, Bovada uses the American odds format for moneylines as well as spreads, although you can toggle to fractional odds or decimal odds at your leisure. Either way, North Carolina would have paid out $100 for every $145 wagered with a win; instead, it was Villanova supporters cashing in $125 for every $100 bet.
Instead of picking a side, you can also bet on whether the two teams will combine to score Over or Under a pre-determined number of points. This is what the total looks like on Bovada’s NCAAB odds board:
Villanova O 151 (–110)
North Carolina U 151 (–110)
As you can see, the total looks a lot like the point spread; the line (including vigorish) for the Over is listed at the top, and the Under on the bottom. And wouldn’t you know it, that Jenkins 3-pointer turned the 2016 National Championship Game into a push – all monies returned.
If you want to hedge your spread or total bet, you can “buy” an extra half-point, point or 1.5 points to make it easier for your pick to come through. Each half-point will cost you 10 “cents” in juice, meaning the line moves from –110 to –120, –130, and then –140. It would have been nice to have Under 151.5 (–120) or Over 150.5 (–120) for that Wildcats-Tar Heels game.
Futures bets ask you to put your money down on an event that won’t finish until sometime in the future – like who will win March Madness. You’ll find odds listed for each title contender (and several other teams) on the college basketball futures page at Bovada.
This is one of the most entertaining ways to bet on sports. Proposition bets (aka props) ask you to bet on something besides the actual outcome of a game, like which team will score first, or how many games (Over or Under) a given team will win during the season.
If you bet on college hoops a lot, you can increase your potential payout by putting all of your “straight” bets (spreads, moneylines and totals) in a single parlay. You can put anywhere between two and 12 lines (aka “teams” for this purpose) in a parlay; if all of your picks come true, the payouts are multiplied instead of added together, but if a single pick goes wrong, the whole parlay loses.
A teaser is a special parlay where each of the lines (spread and totals only) has been moved by 4, 4.5, 5, or 6 points, making it easier for you to cash in – although your payout will be lower in return. Your teaser can only have up to 10 teams instead of 12; the fewer points you tease by, the more money you can win.
This might be the most fun way to bet on sports. All of the straight bets you see above are available for live betting as the game unrolls; the odds are adjusted in real time as the matchup progresses. You can also bet on things like whether the next made shot will be worth one, two or three points. Tap or click the LIVE button to see which games are running at Bovada Sportsbook.
NCAAB Betting Tips
Now that you know how the college basketball odds work, it’s important to keep a few things in mind before making your picks. Try not to bet large portions of your bankroll on any one game; split your roll into smaller units (100 is a good starting point) and bet one unit per game, or maybe a little more if you think you’ve got a really good edge. Of course, you should never bet money that you can’t afford to lose – remember, edges are very small in sports betting, so don’t sweat any one pick if it doesn’t come through. Keep it fun, enjoy yourself, and keep checking in at Bovada for the latest college basketball odds and analysis.