It's time for college basketball to -- finally -- crown a new champion. The 2021 NCAA Tournament has started in Indiana with teams in the field descending on the Hoosier State in hopes of winning that coveted title. This marks the first edition of the Big Dance to take place as the country continues to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic that sent shockwaves across the country last March.
While filling out bracket is a time-honored tradition this time of year, many more fans are going to be financially invested in individual games throughout the first weekend. Luckily, William Hill Sportsbook has already put out the lines and spreads for each game that is set to take place over the first five days of action.
The biggest favorite of the opening round (so far as Gonzaga and Illinois await their first foe) is Baylor. The Bears are a monstrous 26-point favorite against the Hartford Hawks, who are making their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament after winning the America East Tournament. But there's plenty of close calls and near pick'ems among the first 36 games.
Here's some truth: If you're not a gambler, these odds should give you an idea for how handicappers are projecting these games. So before you go pick a No. 12 seed over a No. 5 seed (classic!) and fill out the rest of your printable bracket, do a little scan through the odds below to make sure you're not going crazy. Trust me, you'll be better off in your bracket pool being fully armed with this knowledge.
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No. 1 Baylor (-25.5) vs. No. 16 Hartford
No. 8 North Carolina (-1.5) vs. No. 9 Wisconsin
No. 5 Villanova (-6.5) vs. No. 12 Winthrop
No. 4 Purdue (-7.5) vs. No. 13 North Texas
No. 6 Texas Tech (-4) vs. No. 11 Utah State
No. 3 Arkansas (-8.5) vs. No. 14 Colgate
No. 10 Virginia Tech (PICK) vs. No. 7 Florida
No. 2 Ohio State (-16) vs. No. 15 Oral Roberts
No. 1 Illinois (-22.5) vs. No. 16 Drexel
No. 8 Loyola Chicago (-5.5) vs. No. 9 Georgia Tech
No. 5 Tennessee (-9) vs. No. 12 Oregon State
No. 4 Oklahoma State (-7.5) vs. No. 13 Liberty
No. 6 San Diego State (-3) vs. No. 11 Syracuse
No. 3 West Virginia (-13) vs. No. 14 Morehead State
No. 10 Rutgers (-1) vs. No. 7 Clemson
No. 2 Houston (-20) vs. No. 15 Cleveland State
No. 1 Michigan vs. No. 16 Mount St. Mary's/No. 16 Texas Southern
No. 8 LSU (-1.5) vs. No. 9 St. Bonaventure
No. 5 Colorado (-6.5) vs. No. 12 Georgetown
No. 4 Florida State (-10.5) vs. No. 13 UNC Greensboro
No. 6 BYU vs. No. 11 Michigan State/No. 11 UCLA
No. 3 Texas (-9) vs. No. 14 Abilene Christian
No. 7 UConn (-3) vs. No. 10 Maryland
No. 2 Alabama (-17) vs. No. 15 Iona
No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 16 Norfolk State/No. 16 Appalachian State
No. 8 Oklahoma (-1) vs. No. 9 Missouri
No. 5 Creighton (-7) vs. No. 12 UC Santa Barbara
No. 4 Virginia (-7.5) vs. No. 13 Ohio
No. 6 USC vs. No. 11 Wichita State/No. 11 Drake
No. 3 Kansas (-10.5) vs. No. 14 Eastern Washington
No. 7 Oregon (-5) vs. No. 10 VCU
No. 2 Iowa (-14.5) vs. No. 15 Grand Canyon
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