The 2020-21 college basketball season started on 25 November, with over 350 teams setting out to try to win the 2021 NCAA Basketball Championship.
As a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, the start of the season has been delayed and many early season games will be played on a neutral court, with the location of some multi-team events (MTEs) having been adjusted.
NCAA Basketball Championship Playoffs
Of these teams, 68 go forward to the NCAA Basketball Championship playoffs. Those 68 teams are made up of 32 that win each of the 32 conference championships who earn automatic qualification for the playoff during March and April (more commonly known as March Madness).
Another 36 teams are granted tournament slots based on receiving an at-large bid from a 10-person committee. These berths are determined by record, ranking, strength of schedule, the ratings percentage index (popularly known as NET – NCAA Evaluation Tool) and various other factors. The selection committee will also seed the entire field from 1 to 68.
NCAA College Basketball Championship – March Madness Schedule
- Selection Sunday — March 14. 6pm ET
- First Four — Thursday, March 18, 4pm start
- First round — Friday, March 19, and Saturday, March 20, 12pm
- Second round — Sunday, March 21, and Monday, March 22, 12pm
- Sweet 16 — Saturday, March 27, and Sunday, March 28, 1pm & 2pm respectively
- Elite Eight — Monday, March 29, and Tuesday, March 30, 7pm and 6pm respectively
- Final Four — Saturday, April 3, 5pm
- NCAA championship game — Monday, April 5, 9pm
As the entire tournament will be played in Indiana this year, things will be slightly different. Games will take place in two courts in the Lucas Oil Stadium (but only one game will be played at a time) as well as the following Indiana venues…
- GBankers Life Fieldhouse
- Hinkle Fieldhouse
- Indiana Farmers Coliseum
- Mackey Arena in West Lafayette
- Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington
Teams will practice at the Indiana Convention Center with several courts set up inside the venue. All teams will reside on dedicated hotel floors, with physically distanced meeting & dining rooms, plus secure transportation to and from competition venues.
The First Four are games between the four lowest-ranked at-large teams and the four lowest-ranked automatic-bid (conference-champion) teams.
First and Second Rounds
The NCAA Championship is a straight knockout tournament at this stage. The First Round of 64 sees the No. 1 seed play the No. 16 seed in all four regions (the No. 2 team plays the No. 15, etc).
There are 16 first-round games played on the Thursday following the “First Four” round. The remaining sixteen first-round games are played on the Friday. At this point the contestants are reduced to 32 teams.
The Second Round of 32 is played on the Saturday and Sunday immediately after the first round. The second round features the previous Thursday’s winners playing in eight games on the Saturday, followed by Friday’s winners playing in the remaining eight second-round games on the Sunday.
Regional Semifinals and Finals
Once the first weekend’s games have been completed, 16 teams remain (commonly known as the “Sweet Sixteen”).
The teams advance to the regional semifinals (the ‘Sweet Sixteen’) and finals (the ‘Elite Eight’), which are played during the second weekend of the tournament (the games are again split into Thursday/Saturday and Friday/Sunday).
Four regional semi-final games are played Thursday and four are played Friday. After Friday’s games, eight teams (the Elite Eight) remain.
Saturday features two regional final games with Thursday’s winning teams and Sunday’s two final games feature Friday’s winners.
After the second weekend of the tournament, the four regional champions are the “Final Four.”
National Semifinals and Championship
The winners of each region advance to the Final Four, where the national semifinals are played on Saturday and the national championship is played on Monday.
The term ‘Final Four’ refers to the last four teams remaining in the playoff tournament. These are the champions of the tournament’s four regional brackets, and are the only teams remaining on the tournament’s final weekend.
Which regional champion will play which, and in which semifinal they play, is determined by the overall rankings of the four No. 1 seeds in the original bracket.
In 2021, the National semifinals and Championship are scheduled to be held on Saturday 03 and Monday 05 April at the Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana.
NCAA Championship Leading Contenders
Villanova won seven of its final eight games before last season was abandoned to finish 24-7 and are returning with everybody except leading scorer Saddiq Bey. However, All-America candidates Collin Gillespie and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl are still there and Jay Wright will be looking to become only the seventh coach in Division I men’s basketball history to win at least three national championships.
The Hawkeyes have five starters returning from a season ago, including senior center/forward Luka Garza, who is the favorite to win the National Player of the Year award. Senior guard Jordan Bohannon also returns after being redshirted last season while undergoing surgery on his hip.
Illinois Fighting Illini
There’s quality throughout the Illinois roster, with Ayo Dosunmu being regarded as one of the best players in college basketball being backed up by the likes of Kofi Cockburn, Trent Frazier, Adam Miller and Giorgi Bezhanishvili.
Gonzaga have brought in the highest-ranked recruit in school history in Jalen Suggs, who will be flanked by Corey Kispert (preseason All-American) and Joel Ayayi. Among the returning players are several who withdrew from the draft and coach Mark Few can also call upon a deep bench too.
Kentucky will be heavily reliant on young and talented freshmen (led by potential all-American BJ Boston), but they have the right coach in place to get the most out of them in John Calipari.
NCAA Championship Leading Players
Luke Garza (Iowa Hawkeyes)
Last season Garza was an All-American, a finalist in the Naismith Award, a finalist in the Wooden Award, first-team All-Big Ten and the Big Ten Player of the Year. He averaged 23 points, nine rebounds, and one assist, while shooting 54% from the field. Expect another big season.
Cade Cunningham (Oklahoma State Cowboys)
Cunningham is a point guard who is widely projected to be the first overall pick in the 2021 NBA draft. Last season Cunningham averaged 13.9 points, 6.4 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game, leading Montverde to a 25–0 record with an average margin of victory of 39 points.
Keyontae Johnson (Florida Gators)
Johnson’s average went up from eight to 14 points from his freshman to his sophomore year, while his free throw percentage went up from 64 to 76% and his field goal percentage went from 47 to 54%. He shot 60% inside the arc and 38% from three-point range.
Marcus Zegarowski (Creighton Bluejays)
Zegarowski averaged 16 points, three rebounds, five assists, and shot 48% from the field last season. He shot 42% from behind the arc, shot 54% on two-pointers and had at least 20 points in seven games and dropped 30 points on two occasions.
Ayo Dosunmu (Illinois Fighting Illini)
Dosunmu averaged 16 points, four rebounds and three assists, while shooting 48% from the field for Illinois last season. He’s also recognized as a good passer, as indicated by his double-double against Purdue, where he scored 18 points and provided 11 assists.
NCAA Championship Winners (Losing finalists)
- 2010-11 – Connecticut Huskies (Butler Bulldogs)
- 2011-12 – Kentucky Wildcats (Kansas Jayhawks)
- 2012-13 – Louisville Cardinals* (Michigan Wolverines)
- 2013-14 – Connecticut Huskies (Kentucky Wildcats)
- 2014-15 – Duke Blue Devils (Wisconsin Badgers)
- 2015-16 – Villanova Wildcats (North Carolina Rae Heels)
- 2016-17 – North Carolina Tar Heels (Gonzaga Bulldogs)
- 2017-18 – Villanova Wildcats (Michigan Wolverines)
- 2018-19 – Virginia Cavaliers (Texas Tech Red Raiders)
- 2019-20 – Not held because of the Covid-19 pandemic
* The NCAA vacated Louisville’s entire tournament run, including its national title, due to multiple recruiting violations.
NCAA Championship Most Titles
- Kentucky Wildcats – 8 (1948, 1949, 1951, 1958, 1978, 1996, 1998, 2012)
- North Carolina Tar Heels – 6 (1957, 1982, 1993, 2005, 2009, 2017)
- Duke Blue Devils – 5 (1991, 1992, 2001, 2010, 2015)
- Indiana Hoosiers – 5 (1940, 1953, 1976, 1981, 1987)
Odds to Win 2022 NCAA DI Men's Basketball Tournament: Outright
Frequently Asked Questions
Which teams have won the most National championships?
UCLA — 11
Kentucky — 8
North Carolina — 6
Duke — 5
Indiana — 5
UConn — 4
Kansas — 3
Villanova — 3
Cincinnati — 2
Florida — 2
Louisville — 2
Michigan State — 2
NC State — 2
Oklahoma State — 2
San Francisco — 2
What are College Basketball Futures?
A College Basketball Futures bet is simply a wager on a NCAA Basketball event that will happen at a later date.
It’s possible to wager on a NCAA Basketball Futures market at anytime, but the sportsbooks will adjust the odds over the course of the season, particularly during March Madness, depending on results and other relevant news such as injuries to key players.
In general, the earlier a bettor make a Futures wager will the bigger odds available, as they will change as the season progresses. However, these come with greater risk (the uncertainty of how events will unfold before the wager is settled).
Once one NCAA Basketball Tournament ends, there will be Futures bets available on the next one.
When is the College Basketball season?
The NCAA Division I men's basketball season begins around November time and culminates with March Madness which unsurprisingly begins in March and ends in early April.
What is the College Basketball season format?
To qualify for March Madness, a NCAA Division I college basketball team must either win its conference tournament or receive an “at-large” bid from the NCAA tournament selection committee.
March Madness is more correctly known as the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament and features 68 college teams.
The season format then proceeds as follows:
- First Four – the First Four are games between the four lowest-ranked at-large teams and the four lowest-ranked automatic-bid (conference-champion) teams.
- First and Second Rounds – the NCAA Championship is a straight knockout tournament at this stage. The First Round of 64 sees the No. 1 seed play the No. 16 seed in all four regions (the No. 2 team plays the No. 15, etc).
- Regional Semifinals and Finals - 16 teams remain (commonly known as the "Sweet Sixteen"). The teams advance to the regional semifinals (the Sweet Sixteen) and finals (the Elite Eight). The four regional champions are the "Final Four."
- National Semifinals and Championship - The winners of each region advance to the Final Four. Which regional champion will play which, and in which semifinal they play, is determined by the overall rankings of the four No. 1 seeds in the original bracket. These are the champions of the tournament's four regional brackets, and are the only teams remaining on the tournament's final weekend.
Who are the current leading College Basketball players?
Among the current leading College Basketball players are Luka Garza, Ayo Dosunmu, Cade Cunningham, Corey Kispert, Drew Timme, Jared Butler, Jalen Suggs, Cameron Krutwig, Davion Mitchell and MaCio Teague.
Who are the favorites for NCAA Basketball Championship 2021?
The current favorites for the NCAA Basketball Championship 2021 are the Gonzaga Bulldogs, followed by the Baylor Bears, Michigan Wolverines, Houston Cougars and Alabama Crimson Tide.
What’s the best betting advice & strategies for NCAA College Basketball Futures betting?
Sportsbooks are always looking to attract new customers, so many of them use the incentive of sign-up bonuses in the form of free betting credits once you have made your first deposit. These are a great way to have a risk free wager on the NCAA College Basketball season.
As with all sports, research is crucial when looking at NCAA College Basketball Futures betting. Look at coaches with a long history of success, teams that have retained players from previous seasons and colleges that have performed well in recent seasons.
Player injuries, suspensions, coaching changes, the state of play in the tournament and any changes in schedule are all factors that should be taken into account when betting on NCAA Basketball.
What Futures bets are available on the NCAA College Basketball?
The most popular Future bet to wager on is the overall winners of the NCAA Championship. Other markets to look at are the regional options – who will win the West Region, Midwest Region, South Region and East Region.
Another wager that might appeal is to wager on the Most Outstanding Player.
There are also a number of NCAA College Basketball Prop bets available, such as March Madness Seed Props, Conference Props and Player Props.