College Basketball

Final Four 2021: Why now is the time to bet on Gonzaga in the NCAA Tournament

April 3

By Sam Panayotovich
FOX Sports Betting Analyst

Every number tells a story in the sports betting space.

As we turn the page to the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four, here are a dozen numbers at FOX Bet that caught my eye from a betting perspective, including one big reason you should be taking a look at Gonzaga to win it all right now.

But it's not the wager you're thinking. (All odds via FOX Bet.)

Play the FOX Super 6 Tourney Challenge all tournament long for your chance to win thousands of dollars every round! Just download the FOX Super 6 app for free and make your picks now.

-14: Gonzaga’s point spread against UCLA
(Gonzaga must win by more than 14 points to cover)

Every bone in my body wants to bet against Gonzaga and take all those points. But I’ve already learned my lesson. Taking 8.5 points with USC in the Elite Eight was arguably the worst bet I’ve made all season. It never had a chance, and it’s enough to keep me from stepping in front of the freight train again.

-1600: Gonzaga’s moneyline against UCLA
(A $10 bet on Gonzaga to win outright would win you $0.63, plus your $10 back)

You have to risk $160 to win $10 on Gonzaga beating the Bruins outright. That’s absurd. I would never, ever tell you to lay -1600 in a one-off, but that’s how strongly the sportsbooks feel about the Zags’ chances to advance.

18.5: The "Over/Under" for the largest lead by either team in Gonzaga vs. UCLA 
("Over" if the biggest lead is 19 points or more, "Under" if the biggest lead is 18 points or fewer)

This is a very interesting prop. I could certainly be down to root for a blowout on a Saturday night. Hell, the numbers tell you we’re more likely to see a beatdown than a close game.

The sportsbooks are hopeful that UCLA can keep it close, but they’ve also hoped for that in all four of Gonzaga’s games.

-5: Baylor’s point spread against Houston
(Baylor must win by more than 5 points to cover)

The opening line tells you that the oddsmakers respect Houston. Baylor has been favored in all 28 games, but this is one of its shortest lines of the entire season. The Bears were 3.5-point favorites at West Virginia, 4-point favorites at Texas Tech and 4.5-point favorites against Illinois.

The Cougars are 1-0 ATS as an underdog this season; they beat Texas Tech as a three-point pup on a neutral court back in November, and that's it.

134.5: The point total in Baylor/Houston
(Will the total combined score of both teams be over or under 134.5?)

Under 134.5 is probably my favorite bet in the Final Four. Houston is completely tuned in on the defensive side of the ball. The Cougars have allowed 56, 60, 46 and 61 points in four tournament games, and they’re one of the slowest teams in the country when it comes to tempo.

Houston’s best chance to win the game is to slow things down and turn Baylor into a half-court team. Head coach Kelvin Sampson likely understands that, and he’ll do his best to keep Baylor out of transition. There’s a reason this total is 10 points lower than that of the other semifinal.

+170: Houston’s moneyline against Baylor
(A $10 bet on Houston to win outright would win you $17, plus your $10 back)

I don’t hate this wager one bit. If any team is pulling an upset Saturday, it’ll be the Cougars. They have the horses to make life difficult on Baylor’s four-guard attack.

This one could be tied with eight minutes to go, and it’s anybody’s game from that point.

+275: Drew Timme’s odds to win Most Outstanding Player
(A $10 bet on Timme to win MOP would win you $27.50, plus your $10 back)

Timme is the odds-on favorite to win at this point in time — and rightfully so. He has clearly been the best player on the best team in the tournament. Barring two 25-point games from Corey Kispert in the Final Four, this is Timme’s award to lose.

Funnily enough, the first four players on this betting sheet all play for Gonzaga. It’s Timme (+275), Kispert (+350), Jalen Suggs (+800) and Joel Ayayi (+800) before Baylor’s Davion Mitchell (+900).

-200: Gonzaga’s price to win the national championship
(A $10 bet on Gonzaga to win the title would win you $5, plus your $10 back)

I can’t remember the last time a team was -200 to win it all with only four teams remaining. Maybe the 2009 North Carolina team that won all six tournament games by double digits. Believe it or not, the metrics say this Gonzaga team is better on both ends of the floor.

It’s still wild to see -200 at this point of the tournament. Facing UCLA in a national semifinal certainly helps the Zags’ mathematical chances, but a -200 price implies almost a 70% probability. Sheesh.

We'll come back to Gonzaga, though.

+260: Baylor’s price to win the national championship
(A $10 bet on Baylor to win the title would win you $26, plus your $10 back)

Pass. The deeper I get into this column, the more I realize that I want no part of a two-game Baylor moneyline parlay against Houston and Gonzaga. You should also be getting around +350 or higher, so this is not exactly the best bang for your buck.

+750: Houston’s price to win the national championship
(A $10 bet on Houston to win the title would win you $75, plus your $10 back)

If you like Houston, do your thing. The Cougars are well-coached, and they’re a top-10 team in offensive and defensive efficiency. Their path to the final ladder is a damn bear, though. All they have to do is knock off Baylor and Gonzaga in consecutive games.

No biggie.

+3000: UCLA’s price to win the national championship
(A $10 bet on Gonzaga to win the title would win you $300, plus your $10 back)

If you’re even thinking about making this bet, here’s a better idea: Walk outside of your place, take the cash out of your wallet and light it all on fire.

+125: Exact title game result: Gonzaga beats Baylor
(A $10 bet on Gonzaga to beat Baylor for the title would win you $12.50, plus your $10 back)

This would be an amazing national championship. These two programs were the best in 2020 and the best heading into the 2021 season. It’s very rare that the two teams with the best preseason title odds meet in the national championship, but here we are.

Betting this right now gives you Gonzaga to win the championship at plus-money – but if you wait until the matchup is actualized, the Zags would be at least -225.

It’s paramount that you make the right bet at the right price in sports betting. So what are you waiting for?

Play the FOX Super 6 Tourney Challenge all tournament long for your chance to win thousands of dollars every round! Just download the FOX Super 6 app for free and make your picks now.

Sam Panayotovich is a sports betting analyst for FOX Sports and NESN. He previously worked for WGN Radio, NBC Sports and VSiN. He'll probably pick against your favorite team. Follow him on Twitter @spshoot.


Get more from College Basketball Add to your favorites to get information about games, news and more.


share story