With the football season formally coming to an end as the Rams hoist up the Lombardi Trophy as champions, it’s time for sports bettors to flip their focus to the hardwood. You’ll soon be able to bet on March Madness at Illinois sportsbooks.
Here’s a peek into some teams that hold great value to win the tournament. Don’t forget; you can place college bets at online sportsbooks in Illinois.
Gonzaga out for vengeance, plus full odds
Here are the current national title futures odds, where Gonzaga is the consensus favorite:
Despite the Bulldogs’ domination in college hoops in recent years, they have yet to win a national championship. They reached the championship game last season but fell short to the Baylor Bears by 16 points.
Gonzaga holds the best odds to win it all, and their highlights wins have come over then-No. 5 Texas and No. 2 UCLA.
In a time when most stars follow the one-and-done mantra in college basketball, Gonzaga is led by junior forward Drew Timme.
The years of experience under Timme’s belt will prove to be vital if the Bulldogs can make another run in March.
Arizona back in the mix
Under first-year head coach Tommy Lloyd, the Wildcats have seen success similar to their Elite Eight runs in 2014 and 2015.
Arizona has suffered only two losses this season, both to top 25 ranked teams.
Leading the way for Arizona is sophomore guard Bennedict Mathurin, averaging 17 points per game.
Only time will tell if Lloyd’s magic can push the Cats through the tournament.
Illinois available for in-person bettors
The Fighting Illini are ranked No. 13 in the nation and are sure to have much of the state backing them up this March. With that comes many future bets backing the Illini.
However, bettors can only place bets on Illinois in person at a retail sportsbook. In-person registration ends on March 5, which means people will soon be able to download sports betting apps remotely. However, the partial college ban will remain in place until 2023.
During last year’s March Madness, betting on Illinois college teams was completely prohibited.
Junior center Kofi Cockburn has been a dominant scorer and rebounder this year, leading the team in each category. This could land him an outside chance to win the Wooden Award, given to the most outstanding college basketball player.
March Madness handle expected to boom
Illinois sportsbooks posted monstrous numbers last season. According to the Illinois Gaming Board, a $176.8 million betting handle with operators profiting $14.6 million and the state collecting $2.1 million in tax revenue. All these totals exclude one operator, per the IGB.
With Illinois college teams like the Fighting Illini and Loyola Ramblers having great potential to make runs in the tournament this season, those numbers should only inflate with alumni and local support pouring in in the form of bets.
The Super Bowl is one of the largest single events for sportsbooks nationwide. In Super Bowl LV, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers outed the Kansas City Chiefs, Illinois sportsbooks recorded $45.6 million in handle. Operators profited $7.7 million and the state collected $1.1 million in tax revenue.