By Dan Kilbridge | | 5 mins
4 Surprise 2021 Final Four Contenders You Should Know About
Everything about college basketball looks different in 2021. The empty stands. The socially distanced bench chairs. The masked-up coaches.
Optics aside, there’s another big difference this year with March Madness betting just a few weeks away. The top of the college basketball futures betting board has some seriously surprising teams that oddsmakers are giving a legit shot to cut down the nets for the first time in school history.
Blue-blood programs such as Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky and Michigan State are nowhere to be found. Instead, we’ve got a wide-open field including several programs that haven’t been to the Final Four in decades – if ever.
Here’s a look at the 2021 National Championship futures odds and four non-traditional March Madness contenders.
Latest 2021 College Basketball National Championship Odds
|San Diego State||+2500|
All college basketball odds are via FOX Bet and are current as of publication and subject to change.
Current odds: +2000 at FOX Bet
Betting outlook: The former hoops powerhouse has returned to relevancy 37 years after making three consecutive Final Fours from 1982-1984, a stretch that included the famous 1983 national championship upset loss to Jim Valvano’s North Carolina State squad.
The Cougars fell to Kentucky in the 2019 Sweet 16 and are looking for a deeper run this season amid a 16-2 start. Quentin Grimes (16.2 points per game) and Marcus Sasser (15.7 ppg) lead a balanced offensive attack that has Houston in position to win the American Athletic Conference and potentially secure a No. 2 seed.
If that happens, don’t be surprised if the Cougars turn back the clock with another magical March.
Alabama Crimson Tide
Current odds: +2000 at FOX Bet
Betting outlook: With a national championship already secured on the gridiron, this year’s Crimson Tide hoops squad is stepping up big time. Alabama is three games up in the SEC race and on pace to win its first conference title since 2002. Recent losses at Oklahoma and Missouri have tampered expectations a bit, but the Tide are still the unquestioned class of the SEC this season.
Some experts are projecting Alabama to earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. Seeding figures to be even more important this season with so much parity among the middle teams, and the Tide have put themselves in great position to create a favorable road to the Final Four.
Quite a turnaround for a program that’s made the tournament just two times since 2006 and has never made it to the final weekend.
Current odds: +2500 at FOX Bet
Betting outlook: Creighton is on a roll and has a chance to win an outright Big East title for the first time. The Bluejays are tied with Villanova and already have wins over quality opponents Xavier, Connecticut, Seton Hall and St. John’s.
Creighton has an explosive offense averaging 79.6 points per night and can keep pace with any offense in the country. They Bluejays are on track for something between a 3-6 seed and could definitely play spoiler in the regional round with a strong finish to the season.
Current odds: +8000 at BetMGM
Drake is a ways down the board, but the Bulldogs deserve plenty of attention given their start to the season. Drake bettors enjoyed a remarkable run with 13 consecutive covers, as the Bulldogs started the season a perfect 13-0 against the spread. The Bulldogs also began the year 18-0 overall before finally suffering an upset loss to Valparaiso in the second game of a back-to-back doubleheader.
The Bulldogs are now 14-3 ATS this season and covering at an 82.3% clip. They get after it on both ends, averaging 81.4 points per night while holding opponents to 63.2 points. They’re a near-lock to make just their second NCAA Tournament appearance since 1971.
Drake isn’t expecting a top-five seed given the level of competition in the regular season. The Bulldogs will probably have to play a top-seeded team in the first weekend. That’ll be a tough draw for the opponent, and a great opportunity for Drake to put the field on notice. We wouldn’t be stunned if the Bulldogs keep it going and construct a serious run in March.
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