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Eric Uribe | Wed 24/02/2021 - 08:39 EST

Best Picks To Win March Madness

Best Picks To Win March Madness
You don't have to wait until Selection Sunday to get your bet in for the NCAA Tournament winner. Right now — before the betting crowd sweeps in — is an opportunity to lock in elite schools that have already proven themselves this season. For bettors of all types, we've hand-picked three teams that deserve some of your gambling money right away!

In the unlikeliest of college basketball seasons — with limited fans and canceled games all the norm — a number of schools have persevered to become the best picks to win March Madness this year. Here are the current odds-on favorites to cut down the nets, per online sportsbooks:

SchoolBetOnlineMyBookie
Gonzaga+270+220
Baylor+375+325
Michigan+600+710
Villanova+1400+1650
Iowa+1600+1550
Ohio State+1800+1900
Illinois+2000+1600
Alabama+2200+1850
Houston+2200+2450

Obviously, you can't bet on every single team — well, you can, but we wouldn't advise it unless you have a massive bankroll. For more financially-strapped bettors, it's much better to concentrate your money on a few teams that have legit championship shots. But which ones?

Welp, that's the point of this article. We're picking the three programs that give you the best chance of cashing out by the end of the NCAA Tournament. 

But before we get to that, we must mention the other way to make money off March Madness. The promotions and contests held by online betting sites. Aside from the Super Bowl, there's no better time to reap free (or very cheap) rewards from bookmakers than the NCAA tourney.

There are too many promos to name, but we'll use one just to illustrate what's available to bettors this time of year — SportsBetting.ag's $100,000 Bracket Madness contest. This is the usual bracket pick 'em challenge with those that finish top-300 in points sharing the $100,000 prize. That's only one contest available, but believe us, most betting sites pull out all the stops with promotions before March Madness ensues. 

Now that we covered that all-important detail about contests, let's go into our NCAA futures picks for March Madness. We've done the research and the following thee schools should be atop your bet list: 

Gonzaga (+270)

Back in November, we had the Zags as one of three programs (along with Villanova and Illinois) to bet on to win it all — and we're sticking to our guns. If anything, we're even more confident Gonzaga has a chance to finally "get over the hump."   

They've absolutely cruised through its schedule with an unblemished 22-0 mark. Before you say, "that's easy to do when you play in the West Coast Conference" — as is always the knock on the Bulldogs — remember that they have beaten top-10 caliber teams like Kansas, West Virginia, and Iowa along the way. 

Moreover, it's the manner in which Gonzaga is winning that evokes betting confidence from us. Its average margin of victory is an NCAA-high 24.3 points. They're also the lone team that ranks top-5 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, per KenPom. 

Of course, the elephant in the room with the Zags is their long history of coming up short in the postseason — the program has just one Final Four appearance in its current 22-year streak of qualifying for March Madness. But here's why we're overlooking that with this betting pick: it's a down year for most NCAA powerhouse programs.

By their usual standards, schools like Duke, Florida State, North Carolina, and Virginia are just "meh." The tournament field hasn't been this wide open in a long, long time. Our money is on the Bulldogs to take advantage of that opening. 

Illinois (+1600)

Alright, if you just can't get over Gonzaga's "cupcake" schedule, then why don't you wager with the best team in the most competitive conference of all — the Big-10.

Seriously, the league is a "murder's row." Michigan, Illinois, Ohio State, Iowa are all ranked top-10. When it's all said and done, the Big-10 will likely send nine teams to the NCAA Tournament. If you believe that "iron sharpens iron" then it'd be wise to ride with a team from the conference. 

For us, we're once again sticking with our preseason pick and that is Illinois. Despite a number-five ranking, many aren't buying the Fighting Illini as real contenders. More than anything, this has to do with their so-so history in recent years, not their actual 2020-21 play. 

Here's why Illinois is different this time around: junior guard Ayo Dosunmu. He's quietly become one of the nation's very best with an average of 21.2 points (on 42 percent shooting from three-point range) per game. Dosunmu's skill and experience are the type that can take over games come March Madness time. 

Iowa (+1600)

Look, we couldn't just pick one Big-10 team — the conference is that damn good. Our other sleeper pick is the Hawkeyes. 

More than anything, we're enamored with Iowa's high-octane offense. Per every 100 possessions, the school is putting up 127 points, which leads the nation in total efficiency. In the NCAA Tournament, you need to put up points to make a deep run and that's something the Hawkeyes are more than capable of doing.

Welp, that concludes our early look into March Madness betting. But you should now be prepared to seize the massive opportunity — not only on which teams to tie your money to, but also the special site promotions currently or soon-to-be available. 

If you need a starting point to compare and contrast those March Madness contests and deals, then begin with the bookmakers below. Each of these sites is bringing their best in the promotion front for the NCAA tournament. Follow the links below to explore more! 

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