Pickswise's 2021 March Madness Capper Contest: NCAA Tournament Winner Expert Picks and Predictions
Buckle up ladies and gentlemen, because the madness is about to begin. We have reached the eve of the NCAA Tournament getting underway, with 68 teams vying to be the last ones standing and reach the top of the college basketball mountain.
To celebrate March Madness, we at Pickswise have launched a $10,000 Capper Contest, pitting some of the best college basketball experts against one another as they battle it out to win the five-figure check!
Also involved in the contest are top college basketball insider Jon Rothstein, and ex-player and talent expert Rashad Phillips. Make sure you also check out Jon and Rashad’s tournament picks.
Here at Pickswise, we specialize in providing free expert picks and predictions, and you can find all of our picks on the side and total for every game throughout March Madness right here.
I will be taking Illinois at +600 with FanDuel Sportsbook. I actually took them earlier in February at 16-1 so have definitely lost some value here, however, I still feel this is the best team in the country and have two of the most talented players in Ayo and Kofi. Even when they were without Ayo in the regular season they showed how deep their bench was and dominated games.
A strong argument can be made that the Big 10 was the best conference this year and Illinois showed they could play with every team in the conference. There is no denying they are in one of the toughest regions in the tournament (must be nice to be Gonzaga) but still think they can get through it because of that aforementioned depth. Again, Kofi and Ayo are true studs and think they shine in the big stage. Let’s go Illini!
Make sure you check out our Illinois Fighting Illini team guide!
— Illinois Basketball (@IlliniMBB) March 14, 2021
The Longhorns have insane value at this price. Keep in mind they won the title in the 2nd best overall conference in the country. In looking at their draw, it’s not terrible. I believe they have a pretty simple path to the Sweet 16 and we can allow Alabama and Uconn to eat eachother up in the bottom of the bracket. Let’s face it, the number 1 seed in this side of the bracket is vulnerable without its star that may not return this year, if they even get that far and Texas if they match up with Alabama frankly matches up well against the Tide. The length, and veteran guard play is enough for me to take a flyer on a team that’s priced too high. The emergence of Courtney Ramey and Kai Jones alongside Coleman and Jones is key.
Make sure you check out our Texas Longhorns team guide!
Yes, chalky, I know. But hear me out. Gonzaga has gotten the best draw of any of the other 1 seeds, and they are the most superior team in all of college basketball. They have clearly the best offense, and are a team filled with future NBA talent. The Bulldogs can play defense, they can rebound, they don’t turn the ball over, and are a literal matchup nightmare for anyone who comes across them.
Gonzaga is undefeated, and ALL their wins have come by 10+ points with the one exception being to West Virginia by 5 way back on December 2. Is this a sexy value pick that you could use to hedge? No. But they have the best chance to cut down the nets in April, and frankly, it’s not even close. Zags complete the first perfect NCAAB season since Indiana did it in 1976.
Make sure you check out our Gonzaga Bulldogs team guide!
My pick to win it all is Illinois +600. This team is incredible on both sides and is actually top 7 in adjusted offense and defensive efficiency. Also, remember you do not have to beat every team to win the tournament. Their size and the way they play like a group has been amazing. They ended the season extremely hot and are loaded with shooters (197 3’s at 38%), and size (7 guys over 6’8).
Their only real competition is Oklahoma State before either Houston or West Virginia get to the Final four. I feel the Midwest is the weakest bracket giving Illinois an easy shot to the final 4 and either Baylor or Ohio St is there they have shown they can beat Ohio St and Baylor wasn’t the same team after the Covid break. This team beat 5 ranked opponents to the end the season. They are tested and hot and ready to win this tournament and do not forget they shot 50% this year as a team. Take the Masked Mamba (Ayo) and Kofi The Cockburn and cash that +600 ticket.
Find out all the big March Madness betting trends to consider before placing your wagers.
My pre-tournament future pick is Gonzaga. The undefeated Bulldogs tout 4 All-Americans, the nation’s most efficient offense and a top-10 defense, according to KenPom. They have 7 wins over top-30 KenPom teams, and 6 of those were by double-digits. They have depth and talent at guard, an elite interior scorer in Drew Timme and a dangerous, experienced senior leader on the wing in Corey Kispert. Teams with size may present some hurdles, but the Zags are well-coached and connected. They’ve steamrolled their way to a 26-0 record with only one win by fewer than 10 points — when Jalen Suggs was sidelined for part of the game against West Virginia. This is the best team in the country and I don’t expect that to change. Gonzaga is dominant and will continue to be.
Gonzaga is a fan favorite & rightfully so. People saw the WCC Championship game against BYU as worrisome, but I saw it the other way. Showing they could come back from a large deficit & overcoming adversity makes me have even more faith in them. Kispert stepped up when the team needed him the most & he will continue to dominate in this tournament. Kispert, Ayayi & Timme all rank Top 30 in Offensive Rating, not to mention Gonzaga is #1 in the country in effective FG%. Gonzaga has 5 players projected to go in the 2021 NBA Draft & they’re going to have their heart set on winning the whole tourney.
We are going dancing 🎉 pic.twitter.com/Hc7Dk2mfrL
— Gonzaga Basketball (@ZagMBB) March 10, 2021
In a large office bracket contest, I would not be picking Gonzaga to win the title, as according to ESPN’s bracket data, 37% of brackets have selected Gonzaga as the winner. For bracket contests, it might be wise to look elsewhere. However, for this challenge I think getting Gonzaga at 2/1 odds is fair, and I do think they win the National Championship. Per BartTorvik, Gonzaga has a 32.9% chance of winning, which equates to +204 odds, right about what we are seeing.
I also think Gonzaga has a nice draw to the Final Four based on their possible matchups. The top-four seeds after Gonzaga in their region are Iowa, Kansas, Virginia, and Creighton. Kansas and Virginia are both dealing with COVID issues currently, making them vulnerable as early as the first round. The most likely outcome is a Gonzaga-Iowa rematch, but I don’t trust Iowa to make it there. Gonzaga is the team that cuts down the nets, completing the perfect season.
Jacob Herr (Pickswise contest winner):
Want more March Madness thoughts and predictions? Check out our huge NCAA Tournament preview show, which features Jon Rothstein, and Rashad Phillips, and Aaron Torres!