The 2021 NCAA Tournament Report

The most wagered sporting event in America is almost here, and college basketball fans could not be more excited. Now it’s time for the 2021 NCAA Tournament report!

March Madness will tip-off on Thursday with the First Four round. The field of 64 teams will be set late Thursday night. Once this happens, March Madness will officially begin with the first round on Friday.

Here are the things you need to know ahead of the action on Thursday night!

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Tournament Structure

This year’s tournament will resemble a different structure because of COVID-19. All games will be played in Indiana in a variety of arenas. The first round will be played on Friday and Saturday. The second round will occur on Sunday and Monday. 

In a usual season, the first round starts on Thursday, and the second round concludes on Sunday. The organization of this year’s tournament is remarkable. Here are the sites for the games. 

  • Mackey Arena
  • Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall
  • Bankers Life Fieldhouse
  • Hinkle Fieldhouse 
  • Indiana Farmers Coliseum
  • Lucas Oil Stadium (Two Courts)

The First Four

At this point, there are 68 teams in Indiana preparing for action. The First Four games will take the field down to 64. The First Four round has been occurring since 2011. I do not know anyone who hates the First Four round.

Here are the games that will be played on Thursday. 

#16 Norfolk State vs. #16 Appalachian State – Winner plays #1 Gonzaga 

#11 Wichita State vs. #11 Drake – Winner plays #6 USC

#16 Mount St. Mary’s vs. #16 Texas Southern – Winner plays #1 Michigan

#11 Michigan State vs. #11 UCLA – Winner plays #6 BYU

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The Favorites

Following the selection show, odds were released for all the teams in the tournament. When looking at the 2021 NCAA Tournament report, Gonzaga is the favorite to win the entire tournament. Baylor, Michigan, and Illinois follow them in the odds. 

Gonzaga is +220 to win the NCAA Tournament. There is not as much value in Gonzaga as some other teams in March Madness.  

Best Bets

Gonzaga has a great chance to win the NCAA Tournament, but here are my best bets for the NCAA Tournament. 

Illinois has the most betting value of the four one-seeds in the tournament. Illinois is the first seed in the Midwest bracket. They have a difficult path to the Final Four. However, they are +750 to win the National Championship.

A $100 bet on the Illini would yield $750 compared to $220 for the same risk on Gonzaga. You can take the other two one-seeds, Baylor and Michigan, at a decent value as well. A $100 bet on each of these teams would yield $400 and $550, respectively.

A couple of teams that could quickly end up in the Final Four are #2 Alabama (East) and #4 Oklahoma State (Midwest). The Crimson Tide dominated in the SEC in the regular and postseason. Alabama is unique because they love to shoot the three, but they also play great defense. 

Oklahoma State defeated Baylor (#1 South) in the Big 12 semi-final. Oklahoma State is reliant on freshman Cade Cunningham, who is expected to be drafted first in the NBA Draft. 

Alabama is +2200, and Oklahoma State is +2500. There is a lot of value in these two picks.

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