Michigan State Viewed As A Dark Horse To Win 2021 NCAA Tournament

Written By Drew Ellis on November 25, 2020 - Last Updated on March 2, 2021
college basketball

As usual, oddsmakers see Michigan State basketball among the top contenders to run the table in March Madness and claim the national title.

Tom Izzo has accomplished a lot in his legendary coaching career.

However, Izzo has been chasing after a second national championship in NCAA basketball since 2000.

Can the longtime Michigan State coach guide the Spartans to the title in the 2020-21 college basketball season? It all depends.

Spartans remain one of the favorites to win it all

Even though 11 casinos are closed in Michigan, it never hurts to look at futures odds, especially as college basketball gets underway on Wednesday.

The Michigan State Spartans range from +1500 to +1800 to win it all in 2021 depending on the sportsbook. (Odds below last updated Tuesday, Nov. 24 at 3 p.m. ET.)

Michigan State OddsBetMGMDraftKingsFanDuelPointsBetWilliam Hill
NCAA Tournament Odds To Win+1800+1500+1800+1800+1600
Big Ten Tournament Title+400+360N/A+350N/A
EMU at MSU Game N/AEMU +20
MSU -20
EMU +19.5
MSU -19.5
N/AEMU +20
MSU -20

But the Spartans have some heavy competition for that title. DraftKings puts Villanova (+600), Gonzaga (+700), Baylor (+800), Iowa (+800), Kentucky (+900) and Virginia (+900) as the leading favorites.

When it comes to odds to win the Big Ten Tournament, Michigan State is also among the favorites at +360 from DraftKings. Iowa is the favorite at +265, while Wisconsin (+350) and Illinois (+355) are other top favorites.

Opening the season at No. 13 in the AP Rankings, MSU gets its schedule underway on Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET when the Spartans host Eastern Michigan.

Oddsmakers see MSU as the heavy favorite there. Spartan odds range from being a 19.5-point to 20-point home favorite.

Tom Izzo overcomes COVID-19 before tipoff

Izzo is entering his 26th season as head coach of the Spartans. He is 628-241 all-time with MSU, including a 302-132 record in Big Ten games.

Izzo has guided Michigan State to eight Final Four appearances and one national championship.

The offseason has been a mixed bag for Izzo. While his recruiting for future seasons has been off the charts, the veteran coach is coming off a battle with COVID-19.

Izzo had to spend two weeks away from the team to deal with the virus but was able to return to the squad on Monday.

The 65-year-old Izzo was able to do some coaching from home and stayed in touch with his roster to get them ready for the challenging season ahead.

Lone senior Joshua Langford hoping to stay healthy

Typically known for their senior leadership, Michigan State comes into the 2020-21 season with just one on the roster, Joshua Langford.

It’s been a tough road for Langford to get back to the court. He played just 13 games as a junior in 2018-19 due to a foot injury. Last season, he missed the entire year after having to undergo foot surgery.

The 6’5” guard was averaging 15.0 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game as a junior prior to the injury.

Langford will be relied on for production and leadership this season after the team graduated point guard Cassius Winston, while would-be senior Xavier Tillman opted for the NBA Draft.

Aaron Henry, Rocket Watts and great expectations

The loss of Winston and Tillman leaves a big hole for the Spartans.

Winston averaged 18.6 points and 5.9 assists per game last season, while Tillman averaged 13.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game.

Izzo will have to count on his junior class of seven players to lead the way. Forward Aaron Henry is the top returning scorer from last season. He averaged 10.0 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.

Sophomore Rocket Watts could be the difference-maker this season. As a freshman, the 6’2” guard averaged 9.0 points and 1.7 assists, but he is expected to take over the starting point guard role this season.

Oddsmakers at BetMGM list Watts at +30000 and Henry at +40000 to win the John R. Wooden Award this season for the nation’s top player.

Looking ahead: New faces for the Spartans

Michigan State is bringing in a pair of four-star freshmen for the 2020-21 season, as well as a solid transfer.

Point guard A.J. Hoggard and center Maddy Sissoko are the two incoming freshmen recruits, while junior Joey Hauser joins the team after transferring from Marquette.

Hauser is the one most Spartan fans are putting their hopes on. During the 2018-19 season, Hauser averaged 9.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game for the Golden Eagles.

Hauser also is a great shooter from beyond the arc. He shot 42.5% from 3-point land during his time at Marquette.

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Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis is the Lead Writer of PlayMichigan, the No. 1 source for online gambling news in Michigan. A lifelong resident of the state, Ellis has been working in various forms of media since 1998, including more than a decade in the sports betting industry prior to transitioning into US casino markets in 2020.

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