The 2021 NCAA Tournament bracket is finally here, and with it comes to our NCAA Tournament predictions, starting with first round upsets. Everyone’s favorite part of March Madness is the first round upsets, when David slays goliath and when Cinderella stays out past her curfew. Given the unevenness of the 2021 season, the likelihood of an increased number of first round upsets is very high. BetRivers.com is proud to provide a wide variety of NCAA Tournament odds, props, and futures for you to load up on first round upsets if you so chose.
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Longtime national college basketball writer Rob Dauster, the co-founder of The Field of 68 Network, previews his NCAA Tournament predictions and breaks down five first round upsets worth jumping on. Click here for the full list of first-round odds and tournament futures.
NCAA Tournament Predictions: First Round Upsets
#5 Villanova (16-6) vs. #12 Winthrop (23-1)
Date/Time/TV: Friday, March 19. 9:57 p.m. ET (TNT)
Moneyline: Villanova -265 ML, Winthrop +215 ML
Spread: Villanova -6
Over/Under: 138.5 points
Click here for the full list of Villanova-Winthrop odds.
The market has entirely overcorrected for this game.
Look, I know. Winthrop is 23-1 on the season. They steamrolled everyone that they played in their conference. They have Chandler Vaudrin. They play fast, shoot threes and exist as one of the most fun mid-majors in college basketball, precisely the kind of team that we all fall in love with this time of year.
But here’s the thing about Villanova: They are still really, really good. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl is an All-American and an NBA player. Justin Moore will play in the NBA at some point. Jermaine Samuels is a monster the likes of which Winthrop has not seen yet this year.
And here’s the kicker: Villanova got knocked out of the Big East tournament in the quarterfinals on Thursday night. They’ve played one game since the loss to Providence, which was their first game without Collin Gillespie, a game in which they lost Justin Moore to an ankle injury in the first half. That one game was against Big East champ Georgetown.
A lot of people are going to back Winthrop. I think Villanova wins by 15.
#4 Virginia (18-6) vs. #13 Ohio (16-7)
Date/Time/TV: Saturday, March 20. 7:15 p.m. ET (TruTV)
Moneyline: Virginia -560 ML, Ohio +425 ML
Spread: Virginia -10
Over/Under: 131 points
Click here for the full list of Virginia-Ohio odds.
I cannot believe that this line opened at (-10.5). What do we think it is going to close at? Virginia (-7)? Lower?
Here’s the thing: Virginia is in quarantine right now. They had to drop out of the ACC tournament because a player on the roster tested positive for COVID-19. They are currently in quarantine, and while they plan to play in the tournament, it’s unclear if they are going to be able to practice. They are planning on flying to Indianapolis on Friday. How can they possibly be ready to plan an NCAA tournament game after all of that?
They’re really good. Like, really, really good. They should have beaten Illinois in Champaign. Their point guard, Jason Preston, is going to play in the NBA. Mark Sears and Ben Vander Plas are both quality pieces. I think they will win outright, assuming they play Virginia.
#3 Kansas (20-8) vs. #14 Eastern Washington (16-7)
Date/Time/TV: Saturday, March 20. 1:15 p.m. ET (TBS)
Moneyline: Kansas -770 ML, Eastern Washington +550 ML
Spread: Kansas -11.5
Over/Under: 142 points
Click here for the full list of Kansas-Eastern Washington odds.
Like Virginia, Kansas is sitting in quarantine right now. They are going to be missing some critical pieces for this one as a result of positive tests, COVID protocols, and travel restrictions. They are also going to be spending time in their rooms instead of practicing. And while Eastern Washington is not exactly a juggernaut, they did play Oregon, Arizona, Saint Mary’s, and Washington State tough earlier this year. They are no pushover.
And don’t forget, the last time we saw Kansas, they were struggling to put away UTEP at home.
#7 Oregon (20-6) vs. #10 VCU (19-7)
Date/Time/TV: Saturday, March 20. 9:57 p.m. ET (TNT)
Moneyline: Oregon -265 ML, VCU +215 ML
Spread: Oregon -6
Over/Under: 137 points
Click here for the full list of Oregon-VCU odds.
I actually like Oregon quite a bit as a threat to make a run, but laying six to a VCU team that is a difficult matchup is just too many points. The Rams are really good defensively, they force a ton of turnovers and they not only have a roster full of guys that are the toughest dudes on the floor, but they also happen to have a pro on their roster in Bones Hyland.
This line should be Oregon (-2.5) or (-3). If you can get it at six, you’re getting quite a bit of value.
#3 Arkansas (22-6) vs. #14 Colgate (14-1)
Date/Time/TV: Friday, March 19. 12:45 p.m. ET (TruTV)
Moneyline: Arkansas -435 ML, Colgate +340 ML
Spread: Arkansas -9
Over/Under: 157.5 points
Click here for the full list of Arkansas-Colgate odds.
Here’s the problem with Colgate in this matchup: Their pace of play is going to play directly into Arkansas’ hands.
And Arkansas just so happens to have every advantage here. Size, length, athleticism, talent. Colgate’s metrics are fantastic, but remember, those metrics are a result of a Patriot League team playing a schedule that included 12 regular-season games — four games apiece and three teams — and the Patriot League tournament. That’s it. They haven’t seen anything close to Arkansas this season.
And we can get the Hogs laying single digits?