Can Villanova Wildcats Claw Their Way To 2021 NCAA Tournament Title Without Star Guard?

Posted By Katie Kohler on March 14, 2021 - Last Updated on March 15, 2021

Can the Villanova Wildcats claw their way through the NCAA Tournament without senior leader Colin Gillespie?

Villanova (16-6) opens the 2021 NCAA Tournament on Friday against Winthrop (23-1).

The Wildcats are a #5 seed and the Big South champ Winthrop is a #2 seed in the South Region.

For the first time in its 82-year history, the NCAA Tournament was cancelled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. This year’s tournament will take place in a “bubble” format in Indianapolis and surrounding areas.

Online sportsbooks in Pennsylvania have Villanova as 6.5-point favorites over Winthrop with the total points line at 139.

Early money on the NCAA tournament

A few hours after the bracket was released, BetRivers said the most bet game since brackets were released is Winthrop vs. Villanova with 11% of current game bets. The largest current first game bet is a $5,500 wager on Arkansas vs. Colgate Over 157.5 points (-108).

Gillespie’s injury impacts Nova’s odds

Gillespie’s injury had an immediate impact on Villanova’s Championship and Final Four odds.

The day after the injury, Nova’s NCAA Championship odds went from +1400 to +2000. Their chances to make the Final Four moved from +200 to +400 (at DraftKings). The Cats are 0-2 without Gillespie.

Villanova’s odds entering the 2021 NCAA Tournament:

  • National Championship: +4000
  • To make Final Four: +900

Cats bit by injuries

Gillespie’s season (and possibly his collegiate career) ended with a torn MCL during Villanova’s 72-60 win against Creighton on March 3. The tri-Big East Player leadership and presence has been missed. Nova went on to lose their last game of the regular season against Providence, 54-52.

The Wildcats were dealt another injury when guard Justin Moore left the Providence game in the first half with a severe ankle sprain. Nova entered the Big East Tournament as the top seed but were upset by Georgetown in the quarterfinals, 72-71. Despite being dubbed as “doubtful” for the game, Moore played 27 minutes and scored 10 points.

2021 marked head coach Jay Wright‘s 20th season at Villanova. He’s led the Wildcats to three NCAA Final Fours and national championships in 2016 and 2018.

Drexel faces top seed

The Drexel Dragons (12-7) punched their first ticket to the Big Dance in 26 years by winning the Colonial Athletic Association tournament. The Dragons face off against #1 seed Illinois on Friday. PA sportsbook apps have the Dragons +23 as huge underdogs.

While everyone loves a Cinderella, don’t necessarily try to make the shoe fit on a #16 seed. In 140 games, the #16 seed has only defeated the #1 seed once.

Drexels’s odds entering the 2021 NCAA Tournament:

  • National Championship: +20000
  • To make Final Four: +3000

Rutgers return to tourney

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights haven’t been to March Madness since the Middle Ages – or so it seems. But they fought hard in a tough Big Ten Conference and received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, ending the longest drought (30 years) among Division I high-major men’s basketball teams.

In the Midwest region, the #10 seed Rutgers (15-11) will face the #7 seed Clemson on Friday. On Kenpom.com, Rutgers ranks ahead of Clemson.

PA online sportsbooks opened with Rutgers as one-point favorites and the total points line at 126.5.

If you are in New Jersey and want to bet on Rutgers, you’ll have to cross the bridge and come to Pennsylvania. Betting on NJ teams is not permitted in New Jersey.

Rutgers’s odds entering the 2021 NCAA Tournament:

  • National Championship: +7000
  • To make Final Four: +1650

NCAA Basketball Betting

At Pennsylvania sports betting apps, the following markets are available for college basketball games:

  • Moneyline
  • Point spread
  • Over/under
  • Alternate point spread
  • Alternate total points
  • Halves (total points, spread, moneyline, alternate spread, alternate total points)
  • Game props (total points by team, total points by team each half), odd/even

Futures markets have been available for months, with Gonzaga and Baylor as the favorites to win the NCAA Championship.

College basketball betting has certain restrictions that you won’t encounter when betting on the NBA. For instance, legal sportsbooks comply with state specific rules for NCAA basketball betting markets.

In Pennsylvania, legal sportsbooks are not able to offer betting markets on player props.

In New Jersey, legal sportsbooks can’t offer betting markets on any college sport or game that takes place in New Jersey. Also, while you are physically located in New Jersey, you can not bet on any New Jersey college team regardless of where the game takes place.

For example, the 2021 NCAA tourney is in Indianapolis. You can not bet on Rutgers on any legal, regulated sportsbook app while physically located in New Jersey.

PA sports betting handle at record numbers in PA

The 2021 NCAA Tournament will be the first March Madness where bettors can wager online in Pennsylvania. It would have been last year’s tourney, but it was cancelled.

Sports betting handle in Pennsylvania hit an all-time high in January, reaching $615.3 million. Revenue for January hit $34 million. Figures for February which will include the Super Bowl are due out this week.

Data from American Gaming Association predicts more than 47 million Americans will place bets on the 2021 March Madness tournament.

Since the 2019 tournament, 65.4 million more people in the US are now able to place legal bets in 13 new jurisdictions. The AGA says online betting and bets placed at brick-and-mortar sportsbooks are expected to grow “dramatically” and bracket betting contests are declining.

AGA President and CEO Bill Miller said:

“The sports betting landscape has changed dramatically since 2019 – and as a result, tournament betting has transformed. As consumers formerly limited to bracket contests now enjoy access to legal sportsbook options, they also plan to place traditional sports bets as March Madness returns.”

NCAA tournament odds at PA sportsbooks

Lead image credit: AP Photo/Matt Slocum

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Katie Kohler

Katie Kohler is a Philadelphia-area based award-winning journalist. She covers the Pennsylvania gambling industry with an emphasis on sports betting, online casino/poker and the lottery.

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