How to Watch and Bet the Battle 4 Atlantis: Updated Bracket, Tipoff Times, Odds, Picks and Predictions

How to Watch and Bet the Battle 4 Atlantis: Updated Bracket, Tipoff Times, Odds, Picks and Predictions article feature image
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Conor Powers

How to Bet the 2021 Battle 4 Atlantis

— Co-authored by Anthony Dabbundo & Keg

Anthony Dabbundo: After a one-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament is back on Wednesday for its 10th edition.

Michigan defeated Gonzaga in the most recent iteration of the tournament in 2019, but neither team is back in the field in 2021.

Instead, defending national champion Baylor highlights the otherwise very balanced eight-team field on Paradise Island in the Bahamas.

Each team will play three games in three days on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The tournament begins with Michigan State playing Loyola Chicago on Wednesday at 12 p.m. ET and the final is currently scheduled for 11 a.m. ET on Friday.


Keg: The Battle 4 Atlantis returns after being canceled last year due to COVID-19. And what a welcome return it will be, as the tournament will once again post one of the best fields of any early-season MTE.

The event, which takes place at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, really is a college basketball fan’s paradise. But for most of us, getting away from your family’s political arguments at Thanksgiving to catch some of the best basketball we will see until March is paradise enough.

This year’s field is highlighted by the defending national champion, Baylor, and strong contenders from the Big Ten, SEC, ACC, Missouri Valley, Pac-12, Big East and Atlantic 10.

It’s a deep field with many opportunities for everyone to improve their resume early in the season. However, I think the bracket is less than ideal for some teams.


Battle 4 Atlantis Updated Bracket & Tipoff Times

Bracket updated on the morning of Friday, Nov. 26.

battle 4 atlantis-college basketball-tournament-2021

Battle 4 Atlantis Futures Odds

Here are the betting odds for who will take home the title, courtesy of BetRivers:

Baylor Bears
+175
UConn Huskies
+500
Syracuse Orange
+500
Auburn Tigers
+550
Michigan State Spartans
+575
Loyola Chicago Ramblers
+1150
Arizona State Sun Devils
+4000
VCU Rams
+6000


Michigan State vs. Loyola Chicago

Wednesday, Nov. 24
Noon ET
ESPN

Michigan State Spartans

Keg: The Spartans are once again loaded with talent and will not only compete to win the Big Ten, but have the potential for a postseason push.

The Spartans’ most significant advantage is their defense, where they rank fourth nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency. They also rank eighth, per KenPom, in both 2-point shooting defense and block percentage.

Michigan State has also proved its ability to play well away from home, beating Butler on the road.

The Spartans have an elite seven-footer at forward in Marcus Bingham Jr., who leads the team in blocks and rebounds, while Gabe Brown is State’s best player offensively, averaging 14 points a game.

The Spartans have had a weakness holding onto the ball, as they rank 204th in the country in offensive turnover percentage, per KenPom. But I think they can improve their ball security, and I expect them to be a solid contender to win this MTE.

Loyola Chicago Ramblers

Keg: The Ramblers have been amazing to start the season, entering with a 4-0 record and winning by 10 points or more in every game.

They have been one of the best shooting teams in the country, ranking inside the top 25 in adjusted offensive efficiency, 3-point percentage and 2-point percentage. They’re also first overall in effective FG% and are also among the national leaders in assist rate.

Tate Hall, Ryan Schwieger and Aher Uguak have been the most dangerous of the sharpshooters.

However, there are some significant issues for the Ramblers. Most importantly, they have achieved these tremendous statistical numbers playing against four teams outside the top 200, per KenPom.

They have yet to play a game on the road or at a neutral site, so traveling to the Bahamas will undoubtedly be a factor for them. And finally, the biggest issue, they play the second-highest ranked team, per KenPom, in the bracket as their first game is against Michigan State.

Even if the Ramblers get past the Spartans, it only gets more difficult from there. This event will give us a good idea of just how good the Ramblers are, but I’m in no rush to bet on them in this gauntlet of an event.


Michigan State vs. Loyola Chicago Betting Pick

Anthony Dabbundo: The tournament begins with a traditional college basketball blue blood in Michigan State and one of the nation’s top mid-majors in Loyola Chicago.

This is the first test for Drew Valentine’s Ramblers, who haven’t played a game against a team in the KenPom top 200 yet. Valentine convinced almost the entire team to return to Loyola this year, making them one of the more experienced units in the country.

The Ramblers rank 60th in experience and 59th in minutes continuity.

While the loss of Cameron Krutwig hurts their interior numbers at both ends of the floor, plenty of perimeter scoring is back. Loyola has made 45.2% of its 3s to begin the season, the fourth-best rate in the country.

6-foot-7 Aher Uguak is the man tasked with replacing Krutwig. He can shoot it from the outside and really do it all for the Ramblers. The fifth-year senior in his fourth year at Loyola is a stellar defender and can score at all levels.

Loyola is playing at a considerably faster pace than it did under former coach Porter Moser and the defense isn’t nearly as elite. The Ramblers still have the ability to switch 1-through-5 on the court, which is a key aspect to neutralizing the pick-and-roll offense that Tom Izzo loves to run.

Since Michigan State lost to Kansas by double digits in the Champions Classic, the Spartans have responded with three consecutive blowout wins by 20+ points each. Wins against Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan won’t move the needle much, but a dominant performance against Butler is encouraging.

Forward Gabe Brown has been Sparty’s most important player through four games, despite poor shooting from the perimeter. The Spartans have relied on Brown to attack the rim and draw fouls.

Meanwhile, Marcus Bingham Jr. has keyed their fourth-ranked KenPom defense, thanks to his shot blocking and rebounding in the middle.

Michigan State’s biggest problem early in the season has been jump shooting, as its made under 30% from 3. Stretch forward Joey Hauser missed the last game with a calf strain. He’s expected back for this game and Izzo suggested he’d be managing his minutes over the three-day tournament.

The problem is that the Spartans don’t really have much shooting at all when he’s off the floor — besides Malik Hall, who has made 4-of-10 to start the year and shot 36% from deep last year.

The difference in this game is the size and rebounding edge, with the Spartans having a considerable edge on the interior and the Ramblers not having the great equalizer in Krutwig anymore.

The Spartans have been tested by top-100 talent and to this point, we don’t have a good read for how good Valentine’s team is defensively. The Spartans should be able to attack downhill all game and take advantage of the Ramblers.

Pick: Michigan State (Should open -1/-2)



Auburn vs. UConn

Wednesday, Nov. 24
2:30 p.m. ET
ESPN

Auburn Tigers

Keg: The Tigers enter the Battle 4 Atlantis, having yet to play a team inside the top 150, per KenPom. But they have a top-ranked freshman in the country in Jabari Smith, who is averaging 16 points per contest.

Their first game will be against a team in a similar situation in UConn. The Huskies have yet to play anyone inside the top 250, too.

Auburn has been great offensively, but it truly has been one of the best teams in the country so far on defense, ranking fifth in defensive FG% and fourth in turnover percentage.

Once again, this game will be massive in deciding which of these teams is truly great and which has benefited from playing inferior competition to start the season.


UConn Huskiess

Keg: Dan Hurley’s team has had one of the easiest schedules in college basketball to start the season, but don’t let that undermine them. The Huskies are one of the better teams in the country with one of the best players in Adama Sanogo.

Sanogo averages 20 points and seven rebounds per contest while shooting better than 75% from the floor. He’s had some issues with turnovers and fouls, but I think both will improve going forward.

The Huskies have a tough matchup to start against Auburn, but I think their experience as a team and edge defensively will help them prevail over the Tigers.


Auburn vs. UConn Betting Pick

Anthony Dabbundo: I already wrote about how I think UConn is undervalued to win this entire tournament, but it’ll be tested by Bruce Pearl and Auburn in the opening game.

Of all four first-round matchups, this is the most intriguing because of the battle of the bigs.

Auburn has its duo of Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler, while UConn has Adama Sanogo and Akok Akok. For two teams that have typically been oriented toward elite guard play and shooting in recent history, the strength of both programs this season is in the middle.

UConn’s early-season offense has run through Sanogo, who is averaging 20 points and seven rebounds per game. He has the ability to take over any game and how he responds against the different looks that Smith and Kessler can throw at him likely decides this game.

Akok is the better defensive center and can block shots and alter attempts without fouling, so if Sanogo gets in foul trouble, the Huskies have depth at the position.

Even if the inside in this game is a wash and plays even, UConn has the edge on the perimeter because its shooters are much more skilled. The Huskies rank 40th in the country in effective field goal percentage and both Andre Jackson and Jalen Gaffney are in the midst of second and third-year leaps, respectively.

They are two players I’m quite high on going forward and Jackson especially can help raise the ceiling of the Huskies after a difficult first year in the program.

Neither program has played a game against a team in the KenPom top 150, but Auburn did need a late run to pull away from South Florida in its last game.

There were signs in that game that Pearl isn’t quite sure what his best rotations are, as multiple bench players played more minutes than starters in the contest.

There could be more tinkering from him in this spot and while I think Connecticut will win this game, I’d prefer to back them to win the whole tournament than in this game alone.

Pick: Pass (UConn +550 to win the Battle 4 Atlantis)

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Syracuse vs. VCU

Wednesday, Nov. 24
5 p.m. ET
ESPN2

Syracuse Orange

Keg: If we’re going to have an upset win in this tournament, it will be courtesy of Boeheim and Sons Inc. The Cuse are coming off of a tough loss at home to Colgate, but this feels like a perfect spot to bounce back.

Buddy Boeheim leads the Orange in points and minutes while also shooting 38.1% from outside the arc. Expect him to touch the ball on nearly every Syracuse possession.

As a team, the Orange have been one of the best 3-point shooting squads in the country, ranking eighth, per KenPom.

The Orange benefit significantly from playing VCU to start the tournament, but an intense matchup awaits them as their next opponent is likely Baylor.


VCU Rams

Keg: The Rams have struggled offensively to start the season, failing to score more than 60 points in any of their first four games. They have posted losses to Chattanooga and Wagner, which both came on the Rams’ home court.

VCU is also missing two crucial players because of injuries.

However, the Rams have been effective on defense. If this team has a shot at beating Syracuse and advancing to the semis, it will be by continuing their dominance on defense.

So far, they have limited opponents to a 21% shooting percentage from 3. If that continues, this could be a battle for the Orange.


Syracuse vs. VCU Betting Pick

Anthony Dabbundo: Syracuse’s reputation as an excellent tournament team because of its zone still applies here in a Feast Week midseason event. But this isn’t a typical Syracuse squad of rangy, athletic wings who have a ton of length and make life difficult for shooters.

The Orange have maybe their worst defense under Jim Boeheim since the 2016-17 team missed the NCAA Tournament. The Orange allowed 100 points to Colgate in their last game on Saturday, struggled to rebound, couldn’t prevent entry passes into the paint and didn’t guard enough shooters.

The Orange lost Kadary Richmond and Quincy Guerrier to the transfer portal. They lost Alan Griffin to professional basketball and brought in Cole Swider, Jimmy Boeheim and Symir Torrence to replace those losses. The result is improved shooting and offense but much worse defense.

The question is whether or not VCU can actually exploit this Syracuse defense on Wednesday. So far, performances suggest it cannot.

The Rams are 235th in KenPom offensive efficiency, have serious turnover issues and no jump-shooters from the outside. The Rams have totaled 57 against Saint Peter’s, 44 against Wagner, 48 against Vanderbilt and 54 against Chattanooga.

Vince Williams is about the only player who can make a shot from the perimeter, as he’s made 10-of-23 from beyond the arc.

The Orange’s zone has a way of shading toward one player, though. It’s when a team has multiple guys who can light it up from the perimeter that the Orange get exposed.

Syracuse is one of the best shooting teams in the country and while VCU has held opponents to 21% from beyond the arc to start the season, that’s unsustainably good. The Orange should be able to generate some shooting pockets to get open looks.

If they cannot score consistently, it’s hard to see how the Rams are able to keep up with Syracuse’s prolific offense.

The one way for VCU to make up for its lack of shooting would be to hit the offensive glass hard against a bad rebounding team. However, the Rams don’t really have good offensive rebounding numbers either.

Pick: Lean Syracuse at -5 or better



Baylor vs. Arizona State

Wednesday, Nov. 24
7:30 p.m. ET
ESPN2

Baylor Bears

Keg: The defending national champs are winning games by an average of 34 points to start the season.

While it’s impressive, it’s not a number I expect to stay intact this week in the Bahamas.

They did eliminate a lot of doubt after beating their first top-100 opponent over the weekend in Stanford, winning by a margin of 38 points. But things will get more challenging for a Bears team that has yet to play a game outside of Waco.

Five players average double-digit points for the Bears so far this season, while the team is shooting better than 50% from the field. But it’s more than just offense for Baylor, which currently ranks sixth in defensive efficiency, per KenPom, and second in the country in steal percentage.

The Bears are the favorite in Atlantis for a reason and it’s going to be hard for anyone to stop them.


Arizona State Sun Devils

Keg: If Arizona State and UConn both lose their first game and win their first game in the loser’s bracket, the Hurley brothers will meet the day after Thanksgiving. Sure, many things need to fall into place, but who doesn’t love a good storyline.

Unfortunately, Bobby’s Sun Devils haven’t had the same success as his brother’s Huskies to start the season.

They’ve lost two games already to UC Riverside and San Diego State, dropping both by a combined three points. The Sun Devils are still trying to figure things out after losing three of their best players, Remy Martin, Alonzo Verge Jr. and Jaelen House, all to the transfer portal.

And to make matters worse, Marcus Bagley suffered a knee injury and is questionable for Wednesday’s game against Baylor.

However, one bright spot for the Sun Devils has been Kimani Lawrence, as he’s averaging a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds per game.

It’s a tall task for Arizona State in its first game against Baylor, but I fully expect it to make some noise in the loser’s bracket, especially if Bagley returns to the floor.


Baylor vs. Arizona State Betting Pick

Anthony Dabbundo: The Bears will be tested by a top-75 opponent for the first time on Wednesday against Arizona.

The defending national champions have quite a bit of roster turnover from last season in the backcourt. MaCio Teague, Davion Mitchell and Jared Butler may be gone, but don’t think Scott Drew hasn’t replenished the talent at the guard position.

James Akinjo is in his third program in four years after leaving Gerogetown and Arizona. He is joined in the backcourt by sophomore LJ Cryer, who has made a significant second-year leap within the program.

Matthew Mayer is the experienced veteran forward in the frontcourt after playing big minutes last season, but talented freshmen Kendall Brown and Jeremy Sochan have also provided defensive solidity on the wings.

The Bears are arguably even deeper than last season, even if the top end talent isn’t quite there. The defense should be able to smother opponents with ball pressure yet again, even without Mitchell’s presence.

Arizona State has played up and down to competition for multiple years now — be it out of conference or in the Pac-12. The Sun Devils already had a puzzling loss on a half-court heave at the buzzer to UC Riverside in the second game of their season. They followed it up with a close home loss to San Diego State.

The Sun Devils were also less than impressive in their nine-point home win against North Florida.

Bobby Hurley’s squad is a pretty bad shooting team, as the Sun Devils rank 245th from beyond the arc and 294th from 3 this season. Baylor has been an improved defensive rebounding team, but generally under Drew, it has struggled to grab defensive boards because of how aggressive its ball pressure is.

ASU can potentially get some second chance looks because of this, but it’s hard to see Arizona State scoring a bunch of points given its issues getting to the line and shooting from beyond the 3-point arc.

Pick: Pass (Lean toward the under if 148 or higher shows up)



Battle 4 Atlantis Betting Insights & Predictions

Keg: This MTE is one of the most competitive of the year. Many of these teams have looked great on paper but have yet to prove themselves against solid competition.

Baylor is the clear favorite here and for a good reason, I think the Bears will make it to the championship. I see little to no value in them at +125, though.

Therefore, I will be taking flyers on the two most experienced teams in the tournament that I think have value and plenty of hedge opportunity if either make it to the finals: Syracuse and Loyola Chicago.


Anthony Dabbundo: I typically love to back Syracuse in tournament settings because out of conference teams usually lack familiarity with the 2-3 zone. It’s why they so often over-perform in March and make runs to the second weekend and beyond after middling regular seasons.

With that being said, I strongly dislike the Orange’s likely matchup with Baylor in the second round. Syracuse gets the benefit of an easier first-round game, but that’s clearly priced into the market, as the Orange aren’t actually the second-best team in this field.

Baylor’s offensive rebounding ability is a nightmare for the zone, where SU often struggles to rebound defensively. The Bears also have much more athleticism on the outside to bother the Syracuse shooters with length and quickness.

The value in the futures market actually lies on the other side of the bracket, where all four teams are within 13 spots of one another on KenPom and within 18 spots of one another in Bart Torvik’s power ratings.

There’s not a ton to separate all four teams, but UConn has the highest ceiling, a deep bench and the returning production to survive a potential gauntlet over three days. Auburn lacks experience, Loyola Chicago has shooting regression coming and Michigan State lacks the top-end talent.

At +550, UConn is likely to be favored in its first two games and then, a potential title game matchup with Baylor presents some hedging opportunities for the Huskies.


Our Best Bets for the Battle 4 Atlantis

Anthony Dabbundo’s Betting Card

  • UConn +550

Keg’s Betting Card

  • Syracuse +800 (1.3 units)
  • Loyola Chicago +1200 (0.9 units)
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