The 1975-76 Indiana Hoosiers will watch Gonzaga with growing unease as the NCAA Tournament unfolds. At 32-0, that title-winning Indiana squad was the last program to eke through a season without a defeat.
Gonzaga is 26-0 heading into March Madness, all of which will be staged in one state—Indiana, for a grand irony—for the first time. And we’ve got you covered for the whole tournament with college basketball odds, predictions, and round-ups. For more, check out our complete College Basketball Odds page.
Expect the drama to build as the Zags zip through this field and become the last team standing at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Monday, April 5. At PointsBet, the odds of Gonzaga winning March Madness are +200.
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Like the 1972 Miami Dolphins, the NFL’s last undefeated squad whose members pop corks once the last undefeated team of subsequent seasons finally loses, certain Hoosiers’ faithful from 1976 probably have bottles on ice.
There are Gonzaga voodoo dolls in Bloomington, TV analyst and former Indiana coach Bob Knight lieutenant Dan Dakich said on a recent broadcast. He claimed Knight himself takes the label of college hoops’ last undefeated team “very seriously.”
However, all of that bubbly will remain corked since the Zags are the choice here to go all the way and polish off an undefeated season with the program’s first national championship.
- Gonzaga over Texas
- Illinois over Ohio State
- Gonzaga over Illinois
Teams with title aspirations usually visit an unforeseen pothole, but Gonzaga has already encountered trouble. Against BYU in the West Coast Conference title game in Las Vegas on March 9, the Zags trailed 53-41 at halftime.
The way Gonzaga greeted the Cougars in the second half should have sent warning signals across the country. The Zags won the second half, 47-25, to secure their 23rd consecutive double-digit victory.
This team is on a mission. Over the previous five NCAAs, Gonzaga has played 20 tournament games, which includes a 71-65 loss to North Carolina for the 2017 championship.
Zags coach Mark Few has well-earned experience and has paid many dues, whose dividends he will reap in fine fashion.
Over its past three games, Gonzaga owns an effective field-goal percentage of 61.7, seventh-best in the country. Drew Timme (66.7, tied sixth) and Corey Kispert (65.6, 14th) are arguably the steadiest duo in the game.
Add Joel Ayayi (65.4, 15th) into that mix, and the Zags have three of the country’s top 15 in effective field-goal percentage. Freshman point guard Jalen Suggs is strong and smart, even a coveted quarterback from his prep days.
Moreover, the top-seeded Zags are well rested.
Center Luka Garza powers second-seeded Iowa’s offense, but its defense is suspect. First-round foe Grand Canyon, 15-5 against the spread and 14-6 to the Under, has excellent 2-point and 3-point defenses, so it getting 15 points presents value.
A likely second-round USC-Kansas matchup in the second round will introduce Trojans 7-foot freshman Evan Mobley to many, but the Zags have too much for this region.
Florida State giving 10.5 points to North Carolina-Greensboro and Texas -10 over Abilene Christian both fit certain criteria established by a select group of professional bettors.
On the eve of the tourney, this appears to be the tamest of the four regions. With the most experience of any team in the nation, the Longhorns look primed for a deep run to center stage at Lucas Oil for the national semifinals.
They’ve won eight of their past 10, with the two defeats coming at Texas Tech and at home to West Virginia.
Michigan (20-4) is the +650 favorite in this region to win it all. However, the Wolverines’ superb season depends upon senior forward Isaiah Livers’ right foot (stress reaction), which is encased in a protective boot.
Compared to the West and East, the South and Midwest regions are full of tumult.
Baylor is the +600 favorite to win it all in the South, but it has dropped two of its past six—which could have been 3-3 if the Bears had not beaten West Virginia in overtime.
With Texas Tech coach Chris Beard’s defensive demands, the Red Raiders recorded the third-stingiest adjusted defense efficiency in the Big 12. Utah State has kept the other guys to a 36.7% effective field-goal percentage over its past three games, tops in the country.
That game’s 134.5 total got whittled to 133 within a few hours Sunday, but that can still be considered value as one valued resource pegs that game at 129.
And then there’s Ohio State (21-9), which opens with Oral Roberts. No players are in more need of a breather than the Buckeyes, whose four games in four days over the weekend included two overtime affairs.
Which junior guard Duane Washington (92 points) and senior guard CJ Walker (43 points, 19 rebounds, 23 assists) handled with aplomb. Toss in sophomore forward EJ Liddell, and that’s the fulcrum of a powerful Ohio State squad (whose +2000 odds to win the title are juicy) that will triumph in the region.
One-seed Illinois (23-6) flexed its muscles and showed its durable backbone by winning the Big Ten tournament title, and to open the NCAAs it gets a new wrinkle with which to contend.
Over its past three games, Drexel (12-7) has led the nation by nailing an astounding 56.9% (29 of 51) of its 3-point shots, which helped it win the Colonial Athletic Association tournament.
The Illini (the +450 Midwest favorite to win it all) are average, on the season, at defending the perimeter, but it’s the 21-point favorite here. The 16-seeded Dragons might pop in a couple of late long ones to cover, nothing more.
A wealth of Under games appear to be on the horizon in this quadrant, involving Tennessee-Oregon State (136 total), Oklahoma State-Liberty (147), Clemson-Rutgers (130) and Houston-Cleveland State (136).
Such numbers are subject to change, but the most interesting game on the horizon could feature Illinois and in-state little brother Loyola Chicago in the second round.
The Ramblers, who allow a national-low 55.8 points (a paltry 54.3 over their past three games), are 1.5-point favorites in their opener against Georgia Tech.
In 2011, Porter Moser’s first game as Loyola boss was a 67-49 defeat at Illinois. Since then, Moser has guided the Ramblers to the Final Four in 2018, when it lost a national semifinal to Michigan, 69-57, in San Antonio.
Illinois was last in a Final Four in 1989. It beat Louisville to advance to the championship game, which it lost to North Carolina, 75-70.
It gets to the end this time, too, but—once again—falls short.
Gonzaga is just too strong.