March Madness 2021 odds, predictions: Bet on the Illini

//March Madness 2021 odds, predictions: Bet on the Illini
March Madness 2021 odds, predictions: Bet on the Illini

March 14, 2021 | 7:24am

I don’t know about you, but I’m really looking forward to seeing Jahvon Blair lead Georgetown to the 2057 Big East Tournament title.

Illinois (-5) over Ohio State: Only three teams have better odds than the Illini (10/1) to win the national championship, but no soon-to-be No. 1 seed holds better value. Illinois has lost just one game since dropping an 87-81 decision to the Buckeyes on Jan. 16 — closing a month with head-scratching losses to Missouri, Rutgers and Maryland — which was avenged in the regular season finale in Columbus. While Ohio State’s struggled to find consistency the past few weeks, Illinois has been a rock, winning its past four games — all against tournament-bound teams, including three different teams projected to be seeded No. 2 or higher — by an average of more than 15 points.

LSU (+6) over Alabama: Even without Nick Saban, it’s conceivable that the Crimson Tide beat the Tigers for a third straight time this season. But a third blowout is unlikely. LSU’s offense is too good to be silenced once more.

St. Bonaventure (-2.5) over VCU: A-10 Player of the Year Nah’Shon Hyland will have to work too hard for every point, with the rubber match ultimately decided by the Bonnies’ balance and experience. How long after the Bonnies’ first-ever sweep of the A-10’s regular season and postseason titles does Mike Vaccaro begin scouting sculptors for Mark Schmidt’s statue on campus? What am I saying? He clearly commissioned the project years ago.

Loyola-Maryland (+10) over Colgate: Only one team in the nation (No. 1 Gonzaga) averages more points than Colgate. Only two teams have longer winning streaks than the Raiders’ current 12-game run. Only seven teams have a higher NET ranking. Yet, despite such dominance, Colgate has won just two of its past six games by more than 10 points, while Loyola-Maryland has dropped one game by double-digits this season. Colgate holds greater depth, but the Greyhounds may hold the greatest mismatch. Star big man Santi Aldama — averaging 21.8 points and 10.3 rebounds, and coming off a 33-point, 12-rebound effort — can’t carry his team to an upset alone, but he can singlehandedly keep the title game close.

This season: 7-11

2011-20 record: 261-223-9

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