March Madness Reaches Final Four With Undefeated Gonzaga Ready To Take On Underdog UCLA

Written By Dave Bontempo on April 1, 2021
March Madness Final Four

Logic and magic summarize an exhilarating March Madness 2021.

The logic of this Final Four field is two No. 1 seeds and a No. 2. It’s combined with the magic of a play-in team winning five games. Talk about creating an exciting betting environment.

How do Jersey online sports bettors apply logic and magic over the final two rounds?

Logic says Gonzaga beats UCLA in Saturday’s nightcap and then defeats Saturday’s Houston-Baylor winner to capture the championship on Monday.

Gonzaga vs. UCLA odds at DraftKings

Here’s the logic concept applied to Thursday’s DraftKings Sportsbook board.

First, we will look at the logic of futures bets.

Gonzaga is -200 to win the national title. The Bulldogs changed from plus numbers to -200 after their Elite Eight victory. That requires a new futures-betting method.

The futures “logic” could be a razzle-dazzle play in the Most Outstanding Player prop. Take any two of the three potential tournament top players on the DraftKings board, Drew Timme (+250), Corey Kispert (+500), or Jalen Suggs (+400), in separate bets. The return is much better than the futures moneyline.

The presumption is that the winner comes from the championship team. Rather than bet Gonzaga at -200, try to cash a bet from among these players.  Timme has played the best in this group thus far.

Bettors must leave one spot unguarded and could get burned if the third player takes the honor, but that’s why its gambling. This bet must be made before Saturday’s game.

The secondary angle is to take a stand on one player or put different waging amounts on two players.

Gonzaga offers its own tale of magic. The Bulldogs try to become the first team since Indiana in 1976 to complete the entire season undefeated. This would occur in Indiana, of all places, because that’s where the entire NCAA Tournament is.  Expect this angle to gain a hyper profile if Gonzaga reaches the final.

Baylor-Houston odds at DraftKings

There is logic in taking Baylor at +275 to win it all.

The Bears have three Most Outstanding Player candidates in Jared Butler, MaCio Teague, and Davion Mitchell each at +700 as of Thursday afternoon. The Gonzaga strategy won’t work here. Better to take a stab at one of these players in an isolated bet and stay on the futures bet.

The other side has No. 2 Houston at +750 to win it all. Just take that number and run.

March Madness and the Magic of UCLA

UCLA remains the big underdog at +3000 to win it all.

Bettors took fliers. It was over +10000, or 100-1, just a couple of days ago, but is dropping.

That’s because, besides the odds, UCLA embodies the record-setting magic of underdogs in this tournament.

Three victories from No. 12 Oregon State, two major upsets by No. 15 Oral Roberts, and No. 8 Loyola of Chicago toppling top-ranked Illinois opened a lot of eyes.

But UCLA went even further than those teams. Bettors first saw the Bruins as the “other” team in FanDuel Sporrtsbook’s Spread the Love promo, which brought hundreds of thousands of bettors to their opponent, Michigan State, in the play-in game.

UCLA rallied from seven points down late to win, then took two first-round games.

The Bruins reached another level after absorbing a gut punch, a Hail-Mary buzzer-beating three-pointer by Alabama to force overtime, but then beat the No. 2 seed with 23 overtime points. And then came a nail-biting win over top-seeded Michigan.

The Bruins weren’t the only big longshot story.

“The play-in team has such a tough road to go through that you would figure they can’t make this far, but what UCLA has done is remarkable,” Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, told Play NJ.

“Even before all of that, Oral Roberts was the tournament darling. We took a lot of money on them, even at 100-1 (+10000) for the futures after they reached the Sweet 16. We were still taking money on them right up until the end.”

Indeed, Oral Roberts was boosted to +500 before its second-round matchup against Florida. And bettors pounced. Oral Roberts was no fluke, nearly winning a third game before losing to Arkansas with two seconds left.


William Hill sees brisk March Madness action

“Houston-Baylor is a great matchup,” said Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading for William Hill US. “Early indications are that we’ll need the dog there. I think we’ll need Houston pretty big when it’s all said and done. This is the first time they aren’t playing a double-digit seed, so it’s a major step up in competition for them.”

The later clash features two teams with a combined 9-0 against the spread in March Madness.

Can’t wait for Saturday?

The NCAA Women’s Tournament gains a stage to itself Friday. UConn, which just reached its 13th consecutive Final Four appearance, is a double-digit favorite over Arizona at 9:30 p.m. Stanford is medium-sized chalk against South Carolina at 6 p.m.

The winners meet Sunday in the championship.

“I expect that these Final Four games will be bet well, they have a major stage for themselves on Friday night,” Bogdanovich said. “You might see some extra betting on the UConn-Arizona game because of all the talk surrounding UConn’s controversial win over Baylor. (a foul not called on UConn at the buzzer in a two-point win).  That buzz could bring more people to the betting window

BetMGM: Follow the money trail

BetMGM championship odds accent the value of early-season wagering.

Gonzaga is -225 now but was +800 in the preseason. Even before the tournament, as the consensus unbeatable team, the Bulldogs were +200.

Baylor is +375 now and has been steady, ranging between that number and +800 for preseason.

Houston’s +600 now pales next to the +4000 it was in the preseason.

UCLA is +2500 and still considered an imposter at this party. The Bruins got to +3500 in January, entered the tournament at +12,500, and have taken less than 1% of the tournament money.

Some masses who got in early in the season reap some potentially big rewards now. But for the masses who didn’t, BetMGM offers a creative look at Saturday’s games.

Baylor and Gonzaga both to win by at least 10 + points is +320.  Houston and UCLA both to cover +10.5 is +250.




Photo by AP/Darron Cummings
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Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo, a multiple national award-winning boxing commentator and writer, authors NFL betting columns for the Press of Atlantic City and others. He writes about all major sports in the booming legal New Jersey sports betting industry. Dave also hosts the Why Eagles Why podcast. Dave is a member of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame and the Atlantic City International Boxing Hall of Fame.

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