March Madness is Betting Bliss

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March Madness is just around the corner and it promises to be a thrilling tournament in Indiana!

Illinois head coach Brad Underwood

The college basketball season is winding down, and while that’s sad on the one hand, it also means the start of March Madness is right around the corner.

Each year, March Madness is the gambling event of the year in the United States. This season’s tournament promises to be even more special since last season’s got cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To protect against the virus, the 2021 tournament will be played in a bubble in Indiana. The opening weekend from March 18-21 will feature a whopping 48 games, so the action will be jam-packed. The NCAA Tournament is truly a bettor’s paradise, and there are endless wagering options.

Balanced Illinois Worth a Bet

Gonzaga and Baylor are the two teams at the head of the market, but neither offers much value and of the top-tier teams, the one that jumps out is Illinois at 11/1. Unlike say Iowa for example, who ranks second in offensive efficiency but 61st in defensive efficiency, Illinois are extremely balanced.

The Fighting Illini are eighth in offensive efficiency and sixth in defensive efficiency. It’s very rare for a team to be that good on both sides of the ball and it ensures that they won’t collapse just because they happen to have an off-shooting night.

They’re also battle-tested. Illinois have played a far tougher schedule than Gonzaga, Baylor, Michigan, or Iowa, the four teams ranked ahead of them on Kenpom ratings. In fact, of all the teams in the top 33 on Kenpom, they’ve played the toughest schedule. They won’t flinch at having to play elite teams on their path to a national title.

Illinois are hot, having won 11 of their past 12 games with their last two wins coming on the road against Michigan and Ohio State, two of the best teams in all of college basketball. Ayo Dosunmu, who averages 20.9 points per game, can lead them to the promised land.

Oregon are Dark Horses

If you’re looking to sprinkle a few bucks on a long-shot for fun, definitely consider Oregon at 55/1. Oddsmakers haven’t quite caught up yet, but this is a completely different team than the one we saw early this season. They didn’t have their full roster for the first half – now that they’ve got healthy they’ve been looking dangerous.

Guard Will Richardson’s return has provided a massive boost to the defence and they finished the regular season by winning 10 of their last 11 games. Teams coached by Dana Altman always seem to start peaking late in the season and that’s exactly what we’re seeing here.

Altman also has a history of success in the tournament, as he led Oregon on a Final Four run just a few years ago. They can either beat you from outside with Chris Duarte (44 percent three-point shooter) or inside with imposing forward Eugene Omoruyi (16.9 ppg). This team is balanced, and each of their top six scorers are shooting at least 36.4 percent from beyond the arc. They’ve got a whole lot of upside, and that’s what matters most in March Madness.

*All odds correct at time of writing.

A sports journalist for over 15 years, Aidan has been part of written and audio coverage on a wide-ranging number of events. Having played and coached at amateur level, he offers in-depth insight and opinion into the world of football in particular.

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