NCAA Tournament Betting: Public Pounds Gonzaga, Lukewarm On Michigan

Written By Drew Ellis on March 25, 2021
NCAA Tournament Betting Upsets 2021 Gonzaga Michigan

NCAA Tournament betting upsets arrived by the bundle in 2021. Plenty of those caught Michigan sports wagerers off guard.

How are last week’s upsets playing into this weekend’s slate of games? And who does the public like to win March Madness?

Many of NCAA Tournament’s big names fall off the board

After the opening two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, we have seen a No. 1 seed (Illinois), two No. 2 seeds (Ohio State and Iowa) and three No. 3 seeds (Kansas, West Virginia, Texas) all go down.

Four of those teams were among the top 10 teams in terms of betting handle to win the national championship, according to DraftKings Sportsbook.

Illinois was getting 17% of the handle to win it all, while Iowa was getting 4%.

Currently, PointsBet Sportsbook has overall No. 1 seed and unbeaten Gonzaga as the favorite to win the NCAA Tournament at +155. The Bulldogs opened last weekend as a +210 favorite.

Baylor now sits at +380 to win it all, a jump from +925 as of last Friday. Michigan, the lone Big Ten school remaining in the tournament, has leveled out at +700 after posting at +925 to start play.

Loyola Chicago has made the biggest jump. The No. 8 seed was +7000 last Friday and is now at +1200 following its dominant 71-58 second-round win over Illinois.

Gonzaga heavily backed to win title

As of Thursday, Gonzaga is strongly getting the largest amount of the handle to win the NCAA Tournament, according to DraftKings.

The Bulldogs are now getting 27% of the handle and 16% of total bets to claim the title.

Michigan is next of the teams still in contention, getting 9% of both the handle and the wagers.

Not surprisingly, Gonzaga is getting 72% of the handle to win the West Region and is currently a -295 favorite.

Michigan, with +200 odds to reach the Final Four, is only finding itself with 10% of the handle as the East Region winner. Of the remaining four in the East, Alabama is drawing in the most money, at 22% of the handle and 24% of the bets with +225 odds.

In the South Region, Baylor is getting 31% of the handle as a -182 favorite. In the Midwest Region, Illinois was drawing 61% of the handle. Houston is tops of the remaining four, getting just 12% of the handle at +300.

Where we’ve bet wrong

The public had some strong feelings about opening-round games that fell to NCAA Tournament betting upsets.

One of the games with the most backing last week was Purdue, as a No. 4 seed against No. 13 North Texas. The Boilermakers were a 7.5-point favorite and were getting 69% of the handle, but fell 78-69.

A popular upset pick was No. 12 Georgetown against No. 5 Colorado. The Hoyas were getting 64% of the handle as a 5.5-point underdog. But the Buffaloes ran the Hoyas out of the building in a 96-73 thrashing.

No. 12 Winthrop was also a popular upset pick. The Eagles were a 6.5-point underdog against No. 5 Villanova. Getting 60% of the handle, Winthrop came up short in a 73-63 loss.

Where we’ve bet right

Although there were some surprising results, the public also was strongly behind big NCAA Tournament betting upsets, as well as a near coin toss.

General sentiment strongly backed No. 12 Oregon State against No. 5 Tennessee. The Beavers were getting 66% of the handle as an 8-point underdog. They ultimately won outright, 70-56.

Oklahoma was a pick the public was confident in that hit as well. The Sooners were a 1-point favorite as a No. 8 seed against No. 9 Missouri. Receiving 65% of the handle, the Sooners came through with a 72-68 victory.

Public strongly behind Oral Roberts

When it comes to this weekend’s regional semifinal games, the public has some strong opinions.

No team is getting more of the handle for a respective game than Oral Roberts. The 15th-seeded Golden Eagles have already dispatched second-seeded Ohio State (75-72 OT) and No. 7 Florida (81-78) in the Midwest region. They face No. 3 Arkansas oat 7:25 p.m. Saturday as an 11-point underdog.

According to’s bet-tracking charts, Oral Roberts is getting 75% of the handle for this game. The Eagles have covered the spread in all five postseason games this year.

Tournament favorite Gonzaga, as well as ACC power Syracuse, have the next-strongest backing. Both teams are getting 67% of the handle for their respective games.

The Bulldogs are a 13.5-point favorite against No. 5 Creighton at 2:10 p.m. Sunday. The 11th-seeded Orange are a 6-point underdog against No. 2 Houston at 9:55 p.m. Saturday.

When it comes to the Wolverines, Michigan is getting 56% of the handle as a 2.5-point favorite against No. 4 Florida State at 5 p.m. Sunday. Juwan Howard’s squad is 12-4-2 against the spread in its past 18 NCAA Tournament games as a favorite. Michigan is still likely without senior Isaiah Livers, who is recovering from a stress fracture in his foot.

Photo by Darron Cummings/AP
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Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis is the Lead Writer of Playinmichigan, the No. 1 source for online gambling news in Michigan. A lifelong resident of the state, Ellis has been working in various forms of media since 1998, including more than a decade in the sports betting industry prior to transitioning into US casino markets in 2020.

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