2021 NCAA Tournament Preview: How to Bet the Midwest Region

March 15, 2021by Lobo Grande0
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2021 NCAA Tournament Preview: How to Bet the Midwest Region

2021 NCAA Tournament Preview - How to Bet the Midwest Region: Kofi Cockburn & Ayo Dosunmu vs. Montez Mathis - Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights

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The Odds Factory is here all tournament long with our 2021 March Madness Betting Guide to offer you the best picks, sportsbook promotions, and how-to-articles to make you a better bettor (say that ten times fast) during this tournament.

Today, we’ll be breaking down the Midwest Region of the NCAA Tournament and helping you pick winners, dark horses, and potential Cinderella teams to win big on.

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Let’s get into it.

The Bracket:

2021 NCAA Tournament Midwest Region Preview: 2021 NCAA Tournament Bracket: Midwest Region

Who’s Winning This Thing?

First things first, let’s take a look at the odds from FanDuel for the top contenders to make the Final Four:

2021 NCAA Tournament Midwest Region Preview: To Make Final Four - Odds from FanDuel

A few things jump out at me right away from looking at this graphic. First of all, we have West Virginia being the three-seed and having worse odds than Oklahoma State, which is the four-seed. Not totally uncommon, but something worth noting. Next, Loyola Chicago! The eight-seed coming in hot with better odds than the six and seven seeds, and the same as the fifth seed. That’s a lot of love for Loyola Chicago. And lastly, Clemson. Are you there, Clemson? Bark once if you hear me. The seven-seed is nowhere to be found.

Anyway, if you’ve been reading my stuff over the past month or so, you probably know where I’m going with this. And it’s painful because, as a diehard Indiana Hoosier fan (adios Archie Miller!), I don’t take real joy in rooting for Illinois, but here we are. I know it’s not the sexy pick, but the Illini are just clicking right now. At 6/1, I think there’s value in taking them to win it all. At +145, there’s decent value on them to make the Final Four, but I’m not extremely bullish on that bet.

There’s clearly a lot of hype around Loyola Chicago, who the Illini might have to face in round two. I’m not spooked but that matchup. No doubt it’s a tough draw, but it’s not enough to deter me from hammering Illinois. They are my pick to win it all coming out of the Midwest Region of the NCAA Tournament.

Dark Horse

Everyone is always scrambling when the bracket comes out to find that team that’s going to show up in the Tournament and make them look smart. It doesn’t have to be a low-seeded team necessarily, just one that isn’t chalk that other people may not have the cajones to take. Out of the Midwest Region of the NCAA Tournament, that team for me is Oklahoma State.

I don’t love their draw, as they would be lined up to face Illinois in the Sweet Sixteen if both teams can make it that far. And don’t mistake this for me taking them over Illinois. But I do think that Oklahoma State is a dangerous team, and if you picked them to go to the Elite Eight or Final Four in your bracket, I wouldn’t kill you for it. The obvious reason why is Cade Cunningham. The Big 12 Player of the Year and hottest prospect around, he could be a serious problem in this tournament.

The Cowboys lost a tough matchup to Texas in the Big 12 Final, but to get there they had to take down Baylor, and in doing so proved that they can win a big game when it matters. I won’t be putting a ton of stock into this. But I think there’s some good value on them to make the Final Four at 6/1 and win it all at 35/1. There could be some decent hedging opportunities there.

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The belle of the ball and the ultimate bragging rights card if you can nail it. Year after year, we see teams come out of the woodwork and make a run. Whether that run dries out in the Sweet Sixteen or lasts all the way to the Final Four, it’s pretty much a certainty that there will be at least one team that we don’t expect to emerge to go further than everyone thinks.

And dammit, I already hate myself for writing this, but I’m picking Syracuse as my Cinderella from the Midwest Region of the NCAA Tournament. I physically just ducked and hit under my desk as I wrote that because I feel like someone is probably throwing garbage at me just for even putting that sentence to paper, but hear me out.

I don’t love Syracuse as a team this season. However, I think they got a strong draw as an 11-seed. For starters, they are just three-point underdogs in their first-round game against San Diego State.

After that, they’d most likely be looking at a matchup with Houston in round two. I think Houston is a really strong team. And I wouldn’t say I am necessarily targeting them, but I think they are beatable. And the way I look at picking upsets is this – if you’re going to pick a team to go down early, just be confident that the team won’t seriously burn you by going on a run to the Final Four or Championship Game. I’m sorry Houston fans, but I just don’t think it’s happening this season. So if I’m taking an upset in this region, it’s Syracuse to knock them off. Cue @OldTakesExposed when Houston is cutting down the nets!

Smart Money First Round Picks

Part of the beauty of March Madness that is underrated by many is that we have so many freakin’ games to bet on. What a thing of beauty. So while it’s fun to track your bracket and all other 17 pools you are in, it’s sometimes even more fun to bet on the games individually. Here are a few picks I’m looking at out of this region in the first round:

Liberty Flames @ Oklahoma State Cowboys: Over 141.5 (-110)

Oklahoma State has been an over machine this season, going 19-9 on overs in their games. The over hit in seven of their last eight games to end the season. And that’s a trend I’m willing to ride. I’m seeing some chirps on the Internet streets about unders being hot in round one because of travel, Bubble fatigue, etc. I’m not buying into that theory, and while unders may hit, I don’t think it’s hitting in this game.

Syracuse Orange @ San Diego State Aztecs: Syracuse +3 (-110)

See above. But actually, Syracuse is coming to this one covering their last four games. And SDSU has covered one out of their last five. This is the time of year to ride hands while they’re hot, and I’m riding with Jim Boeheim and the Orange getting three.

Oregon State Beavers vs. Tennessee Volunteers: Oregon State +7.5 (-110)

Speaking of riding the hot hand, how about Oregon State? One of the darlings of this season, they are coming into March Madness on a serious high as Pac-12 champions and getting 7.5 in this matchup. I think their 18-10 ATS this season moves to 19-10 on Friday.

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