With the NCAA basketball season underway, analysts and fans are already predicting which team will win the 2021 March Madness Tournament and be crowned national champion.
Sports fans across the country have been clamoring for college basketball ever since the COVID-19 pandemic forced NCAA officials to cancel most conference tournaments, as well as the end-of-the-season showcase.
Provided the virus can be contained during the winter months, the NCAA will have its first national champion in two years. The following four teams have the best shot at winning it all next spring.
Villanova Wildcats (9-1 Odds)
The Wildcats from Villanova University have won two of the last four NCAA Tournaments. They are also returning five of their top six players from last year’s 24-7 crew.
While the team did lose leading scorer Saddiq Bey to the NBA Draft, former five-star guard Bryan Antoine is now healthy. The Wildcats also picked up a huge contributor in Tulane transfer Caleb Daniels.
Villanova’s odds to win the 2021 National Championship sat at 20-1 back in March. It rose to 15-1 over the summer before peaking at 9-1 just before the start of the 2020-21 campaign. The Wildcats are gunning for their third title since 2016.
Gonzaga Bulldogs (10-1 Odds)
To show how inconsequential preseason predictions can sometimes be, last year’s Gonzaga team was supposed to be head coach Mark Few’s least-talented squad in years. They finished the season with a 31-2 record.
With that said, the preseason AP Top 25 has the Bulldogs at No. 1. You can either discredit the ranking outright or bet on them being even more dominant this season. We’re opting for the latter and expecting them to make a run at a national championship.
Loaded with stars such as Joel Ayayi, Corey Kispert and Drew Timme, along with three top-100 freshmen, the rest of the field better come fully prepared. The Bulldogs are determined to capture the school’s first NCAA title.
Baylor Bears (10-1 Odds)
Despite winning 23 straight games and spending five weeks at No. 1, the Baylor Bears lost three of their last four games to close out the 2019-20 season. In what appears to be a minor blip, Scott Drew’s squad is poised to return to prominence this season.
With the return of Jared Butler, MaCio Teague and Davion Mitchell, the Bears arguably have the best backcourt in college basketball. Some have compared this year’s Baylor team to the 2004-05 Illinois group led by guards Luther Head, Dee Brown and Deron Williams.
Virginia Cavaliers (10-1 Odds)
In light of the canceled 2020 NCAA tournament, the Virginia Cavaliers are technically the reigning national champions. The team’s nearly 40% 3-point shooting consistency and its stellar defensive play propelled them to the first NCAAB title in school history.
While there is concern as to whether the Cavaliers can shoot anywhere close to their 2019 clip, Marquette transfer Sam Hauser can certainly provide a boost.
There are two things Virginia and its fans need not worry about: their defense and resilience.
Head Coach Tony Bennett has always prioritized the defensive side of the ball and the Cavaliers’ 2019 national championship came the season after they became the first No. 1 seed to be knocked off by a No. 16 seed in the tournament.