It feels like an eternity ago that we got to enjoy the magic that is ‘March Madness’.
Just days before Selection Sunday in March 2020, COVID-19 came flying in from the rafters to kill all conference tournaments and the NCAA Tournament itself.
We haven’t had NCAA Tournament action since Spring 2019!
But, fear not hoop junkies, we are now less than a month away from Selection Sunday 2021, and the NCAA Tournament will happen this year, this time from a bubbled environment in Indianapolis.
With one month to go until the brackets are announced, March Madness is on the horizon. If you’re the type of college basketball bettor that jumps into the fray following the Super Bowl, you have some catching up to do.
Here’s a quick glimpse of where the world of college basketball stands as we enter the second full week of February.
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) February 13, 2021
Entering the 2020-21 season, the top two conferences figured to be that of the Big Ten and Big 12. That has still remained the case as the two conferences account for nearly half of the teams in this week’s AP Top 25 poll.
The Top 5 teams feature three Big Ten teams, with #3 Michigan, #4 Ohio State, and #5 Illinois all appearing at the top of this week’s rankings.
— FOX College Hoops (@CBBonFOX) February 15, 2021
Down Season for Blue Bloods
The big story across college basketball this season are the struggles from perennial college basketball powerhouses Duke, Kentucky, and Michigan State.
As of this writing all three basketball blue bloods are projected to be out of the field of 68, with Kentucky having their worst season since 1989 and likely heading for only their second losing season in 94 years.
Duke will need a torrid finish to the season to continue an NCAA Tournament streak that dates back to 1995.
Michigan State is the only team out of the trio to having a winning record on the season (10-8), but will almost certainly need to run the table to close out the season to get back on the right side of the bubble. Considering their 4-8 conference record and home dates still looming with #5 Illinois, #4 Ohio State, and #3 Michigan, that will be one difficult feat to accomplish.
The likely ending to this scenario is that all three teams miss out on the NCAA Tournament in the same season for the first time since 1976.
Gonzaga and Baylor Chase Perfection
One of the early non-conference games that fell victim to the musical chairs scheduling that’s come with the pandemic was a highly anticipated matchup between #1 Gonzaga and #2 Baylor from Indianapolis.
At the rate each team is going, we may still get that matchup after all, and it could very determine the first undefeated National Champion since Indiana accomplished the feat in 1976 (doubly ironic considering the above section about Duke, Kentucky, and Michigan State).
Gonzaga’s unbeaten season seems slightly more likely to happen than Baylor’s at this point given the conferences the two teams play in, but each team is more than capable of going on a deep run in March and facing off for the National Championship in early April.
Here’s how the remaining schedules for each team compare:
#1 Gonzaga Bulldogs (20-0 Overall, 11-0 West Coast)
- February 18: vs. Saint Mary’s (11-6 OVR, 2-4 WCC)
- February 20: vs. San Diego (2-7 OVR, 1-4 WCC)
- TBD: West Coast Conference Tournament (March 4-9, 2021)
#2 Baylor Bears (17-0 Overall, 9-0 Big XII)
- February 20: vs. Oklahoma State (13-6 OVR, 6-6 B12)
- February 23: vs. Iowa State (2-14 OVR, 0-11 B12)
- February 25: vs. West Virginia (14-6 OVR, 7-6 B12)
- February 27: at #23 Kansas (15-7 OVR, 9-5 B12)
- TBD: Big XII Tournament (March 10-13, 2021)
With two unbeaten powerhouses seemingly on a crash course to meet in the Final 4, it stands to reason that their odds would be shorter than any other by a significant margin.
Here’s how the rest of the odds board shakes out for the Top 30 teams in the country.
Odds to Win 2021 NCAA Tournament
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