Gonzaga Remains March Madness Betting Favorite as Conference Schedules Begin

Now that teams across the country have begun the conference portion of their schedule, it’s time to take a look at the updated odds to win the 2020-2021 College Basketball National Championship.

The preseason betting favorite, Gonzaga, remains on top of the odds list but we’ve seen some major shifts among other teams. Perennial blue blood schools like Duke, UNC, and Kentucky have plummeted in both the AP Poll and the latest betting odds.

Odds listed below are from BetOnline.

Odds to Win the 2020-21 College Basketball National Championship

  • Gonzaga (#1) +300
  • Baylor (#2) +700
  • Iowa (#10) +900
  • Wisconsin (#6) +1200
  • Villanova (#4) +1200
  • Illinois (#15) +1200
  • Tennessee (#7) +1400
  • West Virginia (#9) +1600
  • Kansas (#3) +1800
  • Texas (#8) +2000
  • Creighton (#11) +2200
  • Texas Tech (#13) +2200
  • Virginia (#23) +2500
  • Duke (#20) +2500
  • Florida State (#18) +2500
  • Houston (#5) +2500
  • Michigan State (#17) +2800
  • Indiana (NR) +2800
  • UNC (NR) +2800
  • Kentucky (NR) +3300
  • Ohio State (#25) +3300
  • Michigan (#16) +4000
  • UConn (NR) +4000
  • LSU (NR) +4000
  • Saint Louis (NR) +4000

Is it Finally Gonzaga’s year?

The Gonzaga Bulldogs, despite reigning from a mid-major conference, have established themselves as one of the best programs in the country over the past two decades. They’ve earned a number one seed in the league’s tournament three times over the past eight years and even reached the National Championship Game in 2017. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, being close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades as they’ve yet to be crowned National Champions. That accomplishment could be closer than ever as Gonzaga started their season as the number one ranked team in the AP Poll and still hold on to that position a month into the season.

Gonzaga’s out of conference schedule was no cake walk. They’ve faced four ranked opponents, including No. 3 Iowa, and handled them all with ease. Their closest game of the season came against No. 11 West Virginia and the Bulldogs still won the game fairly comfortably by a score of 87-82.

Their odds at the start of the season were +750 but have since jumped to +300. With their tough out of conference schedule out of the way and a relatively soft West Coast Conference schedule ahead of them, jumping on them sooner rather than later may be the move to make.

It’s a Bad Season for the Blue Bloods

Outside of No. 3 Kansas, it’s been a historically bad year for a few of the top programs in the country. Duke, UNC, and Kentucky’s odds to win the National Championship have plummeted since the season tipped off.

Duke, who still finds themselves at No. 20 in the AP Poll, have seen their odds drop from +1400 to +2500 since their season began. To be honest, their odds should have dropped even further. After starting their season 2-2, Coach K announced that they would be foregoing the rest of their out of conference schedule for “safety” reasons. They have since started their ACC schedule with a win against Notre Dame but this is certainly not the Duke team we’ve seen in years past.

UNC has watched both their odds drop and their AP ranking disappear as the now unranked Tarheels are set at just +2800 to cut down the nets in April. Sitting at just 5-4 overall, UNC lost both games against ranked opponents and then started their conference schedule on an 0-2 run by dropping games against NC State and Georgia Tech.

The most tragic blue blood story of the season is Kentucky. The Wildcats were No. 10 in the preseason AP Poll and had favorable odds at +1200 to win the National Championship. Since winning their first game of the season Kentucky has now lost six-straight games and sit at just 1-6 overall. Their AP ranking has, understandably, been taken away and their odds to win it all have dropped all the way down to +3300.

Despite Key Losses, Iowa Remains Number Three on the Odds List

Iowa, who started the season ranked No. 5 on the AP Poll, have seen their ranking drop down to No. 10, but yet their odds have remained steady. They’re 8-2 so far this season with their losses coming against No. 1 Gonzaga in a shootout and an unranked Minnesota team.

While a loss to an unranked opponent will always hurt a team’s standing in the AP Poll, their offensive prowess has caused sportsbooks to keep their high ranking on the odds board. Luka Garza, the far and away favorite to win this year’s John R. Wooden Award, has been the biggest contributor to Iowa’s early season success and bettors know that he can drag the Hawkeyes deep into the Madness of March.

Saint Louis Establishing Themselves as an Early Season Dark Horse

After being near the bottom of listed teams to win the National Championship, Saint Louis has quickly established themselves as one of the best teams from a mid-major conference in the country. The Billikens, while still remaining unranked, sit at 7-1 as they begin their Atlantic 10 conference schedule. Even though they aren’t yet ranked in the AP Top 25, their odds to win it all have jumped up to +4000.

Saint Louis has lost to Minnesota this season but they do have a win over one of the best teams in the SEC, LSU. Their tough defense and outstanding rebounding ability has caused their opponents a lot of trouble this season and if they can keep that up throughout their conference schedule don’t be surprised to see them make some noise come March.

The Big Ten Might be the Best Conference in the Country

The ACC has long been thought of as the toughest conference in college basketball but with Duke and UNC taking a big step back this year many people would claim that the Big 10 would hold that honor.

The conference boasts nine, that’s right, nine teams in the AP Top 25 Poll. Indiana, Maryland, Nebraska, Penn State, and Purdue are the only teams in the entire conference that aren’t listed in the AP Poll. Three of the top six teams on the odds list also reign from the Big Ten.

While nobody in the conference will dominate their upcoming schedule, any team in the Big Ten has the ability to make a deep run in March. Keep an eye on teams like Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin as their odds shift throughout the season.


Logan is based in Los Angeles and is an avid poker player having played in tournaments across the globe. He covers both poker & regulatory affairs.