So here we are, it’s the middle of the summer, and what are you doing? You’re wagering on college basketball for the 2021 tournament because we are all trying to get over the fact that we didn’t have March Madness this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
With odds being released, we see the usual suspects at the top of the sheet. Who should you like? Who is worthy of a bet before recruiting, transfer portal, and even coaching changes have been finalized?
It is hard to tell, but you can eliminate some options now and at least make educated guesses.
Love ’em: Virginia Cavaliers
Easy one. The Cavaliers have the best coach in the country in Tony Bennett. If you are still in denial of that, you are probably also a flat-earther or anti-vaxxer.
Kihei Clark worked his way from question mark to legitimate star this season by being a do-it-all point guard. They weren’t great against the spread last season at 12-16-2, but we aren’t betting spreads, we are betting titles.
Bennett continued to put this group together as the season went along, and the Cavs won eight in a row to finish the regular season. Clark returns along with Jay Huff, Tomas Woldetensae and Casey Morsell, who is sure to make a big jump. Virginia is also bringing in a fantastic recruiting class.
At +900, they are currently the favorite on the board, and with good reason, Bennett could probably get Chicago State to the dance at this point.
Leave ’em: Florida State Seminoles
What are we doing here? This is how you know that Vegas sometimes has no idea what they are doing. This is going to tumble faster than my IRA in the past eight days.
Trent Forrest is gone to graduation as is Devin Vassell to the NBA, and Patrick Williams will almost certainly follow him. That is both elements to the best backcourt in the ACC defensively as well as the best sixth man in the league.
This is one of those “I don’t know if I can make the best decision, but I know how to avoid making the worst decision,” type moments. The ‘Noles lose nearly 50% of their scoring, two of the best perimeter defenders in the league and three of their top six players. Fade this all day.
Love ’em: Wisconsin Badgers
I’ll take a senior-laden team over a team that is talented but is so green they piss grass any day. Wisconsin just tied for the top spot in the Big Ten and returns EVERYONE with the exception of Brevin Pritzl.
This team could return up to 79% of its points scored from last season, and 78% of their minutes played. This team went 16-5 straight up after a 5-5 start and was 9-1 ATS in their final 10 games of the season.
They know how to win, they play defense, are well-coached, they will be one of the most experienced teams in the nation next season.
Leave ’em: Dayton Flyers
This is “take a long walk off of a short pier” territory. Look, Dayton was great in 2019-20. However, with Obi Toppen gone along with Trey Landers and Ryan Mikesell, expect a serious regression.
Yes, 29-2 looks great on paper, but when you notice that their strength of schedule was 103rd and they lost to the two best teams they played, it isn’t so shiny.
Even with superior talent in the A-10, the Flyers were still just 17-14 ATS, which was sixth … IN THE CONFERENCE. They are going to be good with Crutcher and Watson, but this is not a championship-caliber team.
Love ’em: Gonzaga Bulldogs
The Zags lose a ton, but they likely also return key pieces Joel Ayayi (11 ppg, six rpg, three apg) and Corey Kispert (14 ppg, 44% 3pt%) along with leading scorer Filip Petrusev who gave Mark Few 17.5 points and 7.9 rebounds per game.
Gonzaga was just 17-16 against the spread last season had an average margin of victory of roughly 20 points per game. They also win enough regular-season games to justify a high-end seed in the tournament almost every season.
The Zags have won at least 28 games every season since 2012-13. The tournament is always about matchups, but if you can land on the 1 or 2 line, you chances are greatly improved to make a deep run.
Leave ’em: Duke Blue Devils
Remember the whole green grass comment? Well, we already know that Tre Jones isn’t coming back. Alex O’Connell isn’t coming back. It is safe to assume Vernon Carey Jr. isn’t coming back, and others may follow.
It will be another year where the Blue Devils win 23 to 26 games based on talent alone but then send it down their leg come tournament time when they play against a team like Wisconsin and Gonzaga as mentioned above.
Duke has a hell of a reputation and caught fire in 2015 and rode some freshmen to the title, but this youth movement they have embraced in the last decade has not been conducive to titles as much as Elite Eight runs.
Still respectable, but they aren’t taking my money, especially when Coach K is becoming more unlikeable by the day.