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Odds say state of Texas will produce NCAA Tournament champion

Profile Picture: Jason Ence

March 18th, 2021

One of the more entertaining prop bets of the 2021 NCAA Tournament is selecting which state the champion will hail from.

Texas is the odds-on favorite, but Washington and Illinois offer solid odds. While 19 states are listed, “any other state” offers a range of programs from the other 31.

Let’s break down the most likely winners and determine which has the best reward for the least risk.

Texas (Baylor, Houston, Texas, Texas Tech, and more) -134

Baylor is second choice to win it all, behind Gonzaga, while Houston is sixth, at +2000, tied with Ohio State and Alabama. When you add Texas (+2800) and Texas Tech (+4000), the Longhorn state has four teams inside the top 12 on the odds board.

No other state has multiple teams in the top 15!

Only two of the teams have a realistic chance to win the tournament, so it all comes down to how much you trust Houston and Baylor. The only real threat to Baylor looks to be a possible matchup with Ohio State in the Elite Eight, and Gonzaga is on the other side of the bracket. Houston could have problems with West Virginia in a potential Sweet 16 matchup, then would likely see Illinois in the Elite Eight.

It is a risky bet to trust anybody other than Baylor, but if you want the most opportunities, Texas provides decent value.

Washington (Gonzaga, Eastern Washington) +205

The state of Washington has just one team with a realistic chance to win, but it is the favorite to take the tournament. This is reflected in the fact that +205 is the same line Gonzaga has to win the whole thing, without adding Eastern Washington into the mix.

Gonzaga is trying to become the first unbeaten champion in 45 years, and it is just the fifth team in that time to enter the tournament without a defeat.

The Zags are big, talented, and well balanced, but some feel they are unproven. BYU gave them a fight in the WCC Championship Game and they responded, which has given confidence to some.

Illinois (Illinois, Loyola-Chicago) +600

Another state with two teams but only one realistic shot, the Fighting Illini present equal odds in the individual-team outright tournament market.

They feature a dominant on-ball guard, Ayo Dosunmu, and a dominant big, Kofi Cockburn, one of the best inside-outside combos in the tournament.

With 15 wins in their last 16 games, the Illini may present the best value. They defeated eight ranked foes during that run, all teams in the tournament. They also rank in the top 10 in KenPom’s adjusted offense and defense, a key indicator for teams that have the best shot to win a title.

Loyola-Chicago won’t be there at the end, but it features the top-ranked KenPom adjusted defensive unit.

Any other state (Alabama, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Virginia) +150

The four teams listed provide the most likely shot to see a winner from a state not listed in the odds, but each has serious concerns.

Alabama’s three-point shooting over the past month was woeful. It cost the Tide multiple games against solid opposition and Alabama barely beat inferior teams at times.

Oklahoma State is heavily reliant on star guard Cade Cunningham, and the Cowboys have just one other player who averages double figures in scoring per game. They also make just 33.8% of their outside shots, and Cunningham accounts for nearly a third of the team's made threes.

Kansas plays solid defense, but its offensive efficiency is ranked in the bottom half of the tournament field.

Virginia is the opposite. The Cavs have done well offensively but have struggled to defend.

This group provides nice coverage, but it is possible none of these teams will get close to the Final Four.


Illinois provides the best balance of risk and reward. The Illini are a threat to win the title, and at +600, they provide a solid payout.