Women's College Basketball Tournament Betting Preview
Who doesn’t love double the madness? Last year, the women's NCAA tournament expanded to 68 teams. The top 16 teams will host the first and second-round games from March 15-19, which is different from the men’s tournament in which all games are played at neutral sites.
The First Four games will again be played at the location of the first-round games to which they would advance. However, this season, instead of four regional sites, there will only be two: Seattle, Washington and Greenville, South Carolina, hosting games between March 24-27.
The regional winners will advance to the Final Four which takes place on March 31 at the American Airlines Arena in Dallas. The championship game will be on April 2nd. The defending champion South Carolina Gamecocks are the 32-0, heavy favorite, and could become the first repeat champions since UConn in 2015-16.
Women's March Madness Betting Futures
Before the season, South Carolina was still the favorite but at a much more palatable +250.
Now you can find them between -150 and -200. If you got them at -150, that’s a break-even percentage of 60%. I’d say the Gamecocks have a 60% or higher chance of winning the tournament. So if you want this ticket, it’s not a terrible price on a terrifying tournament team, but there may be more strategic ways to bet this.
As for longer shots -- which is pretty much any team not named South Carolina -- the team with the next shortest odds are Indiana (+700), Stanford (+700), and UConn (+900 on DraftKings).
Indiana is a well-balanced team led by Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, Mackenzie Holmes. Stanford has the size and experience to match up well with the Gamecocks and took them to overtime in late November, before losing 76-71. The Cardinals also beat the Gamecocks in the 2021 title game, but they are in the toughest region to survive. As for UConn, they lost to South Carolina in last year’s title game. They have been battling through injuries this year, but with the return of Azzi Fudd, things may be heating up for the Huskies. Iowa would be a fun team to have a ticket on at 18/1, given the absolutely electric offensive performances as of late courtesy of Caitlin Clark and Co.
March Madness Early-Round Possible Upsets
The women’s early rounds tend to be a lot chalkier than the men’s, so no need to get too edgy with your early-round picks. That said, last year, the first weekend resulted in five double-digit seeds advancing. Here's what I have my eye on:
No. 11 MTSU over No. 6 Colorado
Middle Tennessee is on a 10-game winning streak and features an adaptable offense that can score inside and from the perimeter, with four players averaging in the double figures. The Blue Raiders are also one of the nation's top defensive teams, allowing an average of 57 points a game, and forcing 18 turnovers per contest.
Colorado was upset in the first round last year vs Creighton. This year, the Buffaloes are allowing just 58 points a game, but their offense averages only 68 points a game.
One part that gives you pause is that MTSU has just four losses and all of them have come on the road or at a neutral site. Nevertheless, I’ll look to back the rolling underdogs with the more consistent offense in this spot.
No. 11 Illinois* over No. 6 Creighton
*Illinois will need to beat Mississippi State first.
This will be Illinois’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2003. First-year head coach of the Illini, Shauna Green, has quickly made an impact on this program, earning its first 20-win season since 2008 despite having only five returning players from last season. Their most notable win was over No. 2 seed Iowa on New Year’s Day.
The Illini are 10th in the nation in points per 100 possessions (per HerHoopsStats.com) and are particularly strong at both defending and shooting from deep. However, so are the Creighton Bluejays. Creighton made it to the Elite 8 last season, but this young and fiery Illinois team could give them trouble in the first round. I’ll look for the Fighting Illini to cover.
Women's Final Four Prediction
No. 1 South Carolina, No. 2 Iowa, No. 1 Indiana, No. 2 UConn
Predicted March Madness Winner
No. 1 South Carolina over No. 1 Indiana