College Basketball National Championship Odds: Gonzaga Shortens Again

Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Drew Timme celebrates after a scoring a basket and drawing a foul against the St. Mary's Gaels
Image Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

March is upon us, and with it one of the great annual excuses to bet on sports and have a helluva good time doing so: March Madness. Selection Sunday is set for March 13, and that forthcoming event has helped spike interest in college basketball national championship odds.

As has been the case all season, Gonzaga is the favorite in the March Madness odds market. But there are plenty of worthy teams behind Gonzaga — and perhaps a couple of sleepers, as well.

BetMGM lead sports trader Seamus Magee helps dive into an update on college basketball futures odds and current action.

2021-22 College Basketball National Championship Odds

Team Odds
Gonzaga +375
Arizona +600
Kentucky +800
Baylor +1,100
Duke +1,200
Purdue +1,200
Auburn +1,200
Kansas +1,400
Villanova +2,000
Illinois +2,200
Texas Tech +2,200
UCLA +2,500
Houston +3,000
Arkansas +4,000
Alabama +5,000
Tennessee +5,000
Wisconsin +5,000

Odds via BetMGM and updated as of 2 p.m. ET on March 4.

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Arizona guard Kerr Kriisa encourages the crowd to make some noise during the second half of a Pac-12 basketball game between the USC Trojans
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As the NCAA Tournament draws closer, Gonzaga’s odds to win it all keep getting shorter. The Bulldogs made it to last year’s title game before falling to Baylor, and they’ve been the consensus favorites ever since to win this year’s crown, which would be the first in school history.

The Zags opened +600 at BetMGM and in mid-February were at +450. Now, Gonzaga is inside 4/1 in the college basketball championship odds market, sitting at +375. But Magee said BetMGM’s risk room is fine with a big Bulldogs run through the tournament, even though coach Mark Few’s squad is No. 1 in ticket count and money at his shop.

“Gonzaga is a winner for the book,” he said. “We’ve been a bit shorter on them odds-wise all year.”

On the flip side, a couple of teams that have caught the attention of bettors in recent weeks could be problematic for BetMGM, should they cut down the nets in New Orleans on April 2.

“Kentucky and Arizona are two teams we’ve seen people jump on a lot lately,” Magee said.

As noted a couple of times in these updates, Arizona opened at +5,000. Now, the Wildcats are the +600 second choice, with a 26-3 SU record and the Pac-12 regular-season title in hand. Kentucky (24-6) opened at a much shorter price, +1,600, and has cut those odds in half to stand as the +800 third choice at BetMGM.

“Arizona, Kentucky, and Auburn [are red flags],” Magee said of a trio of teams the book is rooting against, pointing to partisan wagering in two of BetMGM’s jurisdictions. “A lot of hometown fans in Arizona and some SEC fans [at BetMGM in] Tennessee have been backing these three all year.”

Auburn (26-4) joined Arizona in opening at +5,000, then stretched to +6,000 early on. The Tigers are now one of three teams sharing the fifth position at +1,200, right behind defending national champion Baylor (+1,100).

Boiler Up — Or Down?

College Basketball National Championship Odds - Purdue Boilermakers guard Jaden Ivey brings the ball up the court in a Big Ten basketball game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers
Image Credit: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Purdue (24-6 SU) has been near the top of BetMGM’s March Madness odds board all season. The Boilermakers opened at +1,600, tightened to +1,000 and are now the +1,200 co-fifth choice with Duke and Auburn.

At multiple junctures this season — including in mid-February — Purdue led the NCAA championship ticket count at BetMGM. But lately, the Boilermakers have gotten a little less attractive to futures bettors. That’s due in part to back-to-back close losses at Michigan State and at Wisconsin, with Purdue favored in both games.

But again, the Boilermakers’ odds are right there with the other perceived strong contenders.

“Purdue is a funny one,” Magee said. “The Boilermakers certainly look like contenders, with good coaching and personnel to make a run to the Final Four. However, a few other teams have been looking more impressive the last few weeks, taking some tickets away from Purdue.”

March Madness Dark Horses

College Basketball National Championship Odds - Arkansas Razorbacks guard JD Notae dribbles the ball during an SEC basketball game against the Auburn Tigers
Image Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re dipping your toe in the NCAA Tournament futures odds market, you’re almost certainly looking for a dark horse to ride. What’s not to like about hoping an under-the-radar squad makes a deep tournament run? Maybe that team finds a way to win it all — or short of that, at least provides a potential hedge opportunity.

Magee cited two teams he thinks are worth a look.

“Arkansas has picked up some important wins and is down to 40/1,” he said. The Razorbacks (24-6) are red-hot, going 14-1 SU — and a money-printing 12-2-1 ATS — in their last 15 games. Arkansas opened +3,000, then slid as far as +8,000 in mid-January before climbing up during its current run.

“Also, I think UConn could be a team to keep an eye on as we go into tournament time,” Magee said. Connecticut (21-8) went on a 5-0 SU run from mid-to-late February, including a 71-69 home win over Villanova.

Yet you can get the Huskies right now at +6,600, longer than their opening odds of +5,000 at BetMGM. UConn’s longest odds were +8,000 in mid-January.

Ticket Takers and (Maybe) Money Makers

Kentucky Wildcats forward Oscar Tshiebwe flexes after getting fouled during an SEC basketball game against the Missouri Tigers
Image Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

As mentioned, Gonzaga leads the way in both ticket count and money in BetMGM’s college basketball national championship odds market. Arizona narrowly trails in tickets, sitting No. 2, and the Wildcats are No. 2 in money, as well. At No. 3 in both tickets and money are the other Wildcats, from Kentucky.

Auburn and Purdue round out the top five in both tickets and money, respectively.

Perhaps interestingly, perennial powers Duke (+1,200) and Kansas (+1,400) are lagging back just a bit. The Blue Devils are sixth in tickets and money, while the Jayhawks are eighth in wagers and seventh in cash.