While the men tend to hog most of the attention when it comes to Madness in March, the ladies offer ample excitement as well, and more importantly, there is all kinds of value that can be found when betting on the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, making it a personal favorite of mine when it comes to finding good spots to bet. After a wild first weekend of action where we saw superstar Caitlin Clark and her Iowa Hawkeyes season come to an end, we are now ready for the Ladies Sweet 16!
A quick glance at the Ladies bracket shows me that nearly all of the top teams in the field are still alive, as none of the 1-seeds had any trouble winning and advancing, and 13 of the 16 teams still playing are top-5 seeds. This year’s potential Cinderella’s include 10-seed South Dakota, who advanced to the Sweet 16 with a massive upset over 2-seed Baylor, and fellow 10-seed Creighton, who ended Caitlin Clark’s season with a huge upset over the 2-seed Iowa Hawkeyes.
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— ESPN (@espn) March 22, 2022
With that, let’s jump right into the individual game matchups, as we tell you which teams are going to win and punch their ticket to the NCAA Women’s Elite Eight! Let’s get started as we check in on the tournament’s number 1 overall seed, the South Carolina Gamecocks, as they play the North Carolina Tar Heels.
#5 North Carolina Tar Heels vs #1 South Carolina Game Cocks
The South Carolina Gamecocks came into this season as the nation’s number 1 team, and after racing through their schedule and racking up an impressive 29-2 record, the Gamecocks hit this tournament as the team to beat. USC has one of the best players in the country in Aliyah Boston, who leads the team in scoring, rebounds, steals, and blocks and they are the prohibitive favorites to cut down the nets at the Final Four this season at just (+115) odds to take home the national title.
In the year since her agonizing miss in the Final Four, Aliyah Boston has put in the work to lead South Carolina to a national championship. Now the Gamecocks are four games away from a title.https://t.co/tQHsVgNQcX
— ESPN Women's Hoops (@ESPN_WomenHoop) March 24, 2022
The Cock’s defense has been fierce so far in this tournament, as they held Howard to just 21 points in the round of 64 and Miami to 33 points in the round of 32, and while I would have liked to have seen more efficient scoring against the Hurricanes, it is hard to be too critical of a team that won by 16-points in the NCAA tournament. South Carolina will face the Tar Heels of North Carolina, a team that started out the season by winning each of their first 13 games, but struggled some down the stretch, with just a 10-6 record in the 2nd half.
The Bet: South Carolina Game Cocks
This game probably isn’t going to be overly competitive. South Carolina has been the best team in the country all year, and while there are teams in this field that I think have a shot at upsetting them, the Tar Heels aren’t one of them. None of North Carolina’s losses are bad ones, as they have all come to solid teams, but when I see that the Heels only had 2 wins in the regular season over ranked teams, I know that they are in a lot of trouble against South Carolina.
In order to win in March, you have to be able to beat elite teams, and the Tar Heels just haven’t done enough of that this year for me to have any confidence in them in this game. The Gamecocks take this one going away, likely by double digits.
#10 Creighton Blue Jays vs #3 Iowa State Cyclones
If you want to nail down the single biggest upset in this tourney, you need look no further than the Creighton Blue Jays, who shocked the nation with their win over the Iowa Hawkeyes. This was supposed to be the coming-out party for Hawkeye’s superstar Caitlin Clark, instead, it was the Lady Blue Jays that spoiled the show, knocking off Iowa 64-62. That one was hard to see coming, as Crieghton was just 6-5 in their final 11 games of the season, and barely made the field of 68, as one of the final at-large bid teams that got into the Big Dance.
— Creighton Women’s Basketball (@CreightonWBB) March 23, 2022
Creighton will try and find that magic again in the Sweet 16, as they play the 3-seed Iowa State Cyclones. Iowa State had a scare in the first round, as they had trouble with 14-seed UT Arlington, but the Cyclones did look much better in their next game, a 13-point win over Georgia. Iowa State had a nice season, and when I see that 5 of their 6 losses came to Baylor and Texas, we have seen this squad dominate just about every other team that they have played this year.
The Bet: Creighton Blue Jays
I hate to say this, but Creighton beating Iowa was probably bad for the game, as Caitlin Clark was a transcendent star, that was attracting a lot of eyeballs that the women’s game rarely gets. But now that we are here, a Creighton win would be great for the game, as there is nothing that the casual public loves more than big upsets! And I think that is what happens in this game.
Tournament basketball is different, and while the Blue Jays had more than their fair share of losses in the regular season, they lead the nation in assists per made shot and assist to turnover ratio. This is a team that shares the ball at an elite level, and they never turn it over. If that isn’t a recipe for success in March, I don’t know what is! Does the slipper fit? I think so! I am riding with Creighton as they knock off Iowa State to continue their epic run in the women’s bracket!
#4 Tennessee Volunteers vs #1 Louisville Cardinals
If you ask me, this is my single favorite matchup in the Sweet 16, as we all know the long history of success that the Lady Vols have had, as one of the top programs in women’s basketball history, and they draw a very good Louisville Cardinals team that deservedly locked up a 1-seed on Selection Sunday. This is going to be an epic clash of elite teams, to say the least, and the question is, can the Lady Vols recover from their late-season slump, to knock off Louisville?
The Bet: Louisville Cardinals
While I do think this game is going to be tightly contested, I am rolling with the chalk, and backing the Cardinals. Tennessee really struggled late in the season, as they hit the tournament having lost 4 of their last 6 games, and 7 of their last 12 overall. Winning in March is all about momentum, and Tennessee just doesn’t have it. Despite a soft path to the 2nd weekend, with games against 13-seed Buffalo, and 12-seed Belmont, the Vols have not played well, and they are lucky to even still be alive at this point.
Our Sweet 1️⃣6️⃣ match up is set!
The Cards will take on Tennessee on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET
Join us in Wichita ⬇️#GoCards
— Louisville WBB (@UofLWBB) March 22, 2022
Emily Engstler might be the best on-ball defender in the country, and her ability to crash the boards, protect the paint, and pick up steals, makes her the best player on the floor in this game. While I don’t see the Cardinals as being on the same level as either Stanford or South Carolina, this team is a legit 1-seed, and they aren’t going to lose to Tennessee. Sorry, Lady Vols fans, but Pat Summit ain’t walking through those doors, and your season ends here at the hands of the Cardinals.
#10 South Dakota Coyotes vs #3 Michigan Wolverines
We already talked about Creighton being the biggest Cinderella in this field when they beat Iowa, but at least on paper, the Coyote’s win over Baylor might have been even bigger, as Baylor was ranked 7th in the final AP poll, with the Hawkeyes coming in 1 spot lower at 8th. It is hard for a team to look much better than South Dakota has in the last couple of months, as they finished the season on an absolute tear, with wins in 25 of their last 26 games, and in this tournament, they beat both Ole Miss and Baylor.
Tread lightly. pic.twitter.com/dtAWy1mT3D
— South Dakota Coyotes (@SDCoyotes) March 22, 2022
And it is not just that the Coyotes won those games, it is how they did it, that impressed me so much. They beat 7-seed Ole Miss by 14-points and followed it up with another 14-point win over Baylor. This wasn’t fluky play for the Coyotes, this is a team full of swagger, that forget how to lose months ago, handily beating these teams to advance to the Sweet 16.
The Bet: South Dakota Coyotes
In March, more madness is better, and I think that is what we see here, as I like South Dakota to win this game over Michigan. The Coyotes are going to have to find a way to slow down Naz Hillmon, who averages almost a double-double at 21 points and 9.6 rebounds per game, but if they can do that, they can absolutely win this game. Michigan went 2-4 late in the season, and while they have played well in this tournament so far, I think they have run into a buzz saw in South Dakota. I am on the Coyotes!
#4 Maryland Terrapins vs #1 Stanford Cardinal
The Stanford Cardinal won the women’s national title last season, and they are looking to go back-to-back this season, as they again have an elite roster, and are one of the betting favorites to win this tournament. The Cardinal got off to a slow start to the year, as they lost 3 games before January hit, but they haven’t lost since, and they are on fire as they mount up for a deep run to defend their title.
— Stanford Women’s Basketball (@StanfordWBB) March 21, 2022
Stanford lost at South Carolina in what was the regular season game of the year, and those teams seem to be on a collision course for a meeting in the Final Four, as they are head and shoulders above the rest of the competition in terms of sheer talent. Stanford thrashed both of their opponents last weekend, and they are going to be the toughest of outs in this tournament.
The Bet: Stanford Cardinal
Maryland had a nice season. But they aren’t beating Stanford. But to be fair to the Terps, I am not sure that anybody is beating Stanford right now, as this team is playing at a very high level, and they have all of the experience they need after winning it all last year.
These teams played early in the season in the non-conference, and the game wasn’t close, as the Cardinal blew them out by 18 points, and that was before Stanford really hit their grove. If Maryland can keep this game within single digits, it will be a moral victory for the Terrapins, as I see Stanford running away with this one.
#6 Ohio State Buckeyes vs #2 Texas Longhorns
You could have made a compelling case that the Texas Longhorns should have been up on that top line on Selection Sunday, as this team has played a brutal schedule, and they have one of the more impressive collections of wins of any team in this field. Texas hasn’t lost in well over a month, and they have wins over Iowa State, Baylor, Oklahoma, K State, Texas A&M, and Stanford on the year. This is a team that feels that they can win the national title this year, and outside of Stanford and South Carolina, I see the Longhorns as the next best team still playing.
The Bet: Texas Longhorns
No disrespect intended to the Buckeyes of Ohio State, but they aren’t winning this game. Ohio State won the Big 10 regular season title, but the league was down this season when compared to some of the other power conferences, and they are nowhere near as accomplished as Texas is right now.
the match up is set ?#HookEm
— Texas Women's Basketball (@TexasWBB) March 22, 2022
The Bucks are just 2-5 against ranked teams this year, and they aren’t going to be ready for what the Longhorns have to offer in this game. Ohio State should be happy about surviving the opening weekend and advancing to the Sweet 16, as they needed an upset over LSU to get here, but as the 3rd worst seeded team left in this field, the Buckeyes don’t seem to fit in with the rest of these teams. Texas has been too consistently good this season against elite competition not to like them in this game. I see the Longhorns taking care of business with a hard-fought victory over Ohio State.
#5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs #1 NC State Wolfpack
The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame had a respectable season, as they finished 3rd in the ACC regular season standings, and they have played well in this tournament. The Irish have lit up the scoreboard so far in March Madness, as they scored 89 points in their opening-round game against UMASS, and they sizzled with a 108-point explosion against Oklahoma in the round of 32. But things are about to get a lot tougher for Notre Dame, as they match up with the top-seeded NC State Wolfpack.
Thank you, Raleigh. Thank you, Wolfpack fans.
Now, let's see some red in Bridgeport. pic.twitter.com/Xu8iqxPBLO
— #3 NC State WBB ?? (@PackWomensBball) March 22, 2022
Notre Dame did upset NC State in the regular season, at home, in their only matchup this season, and I am sure that the Irish wish they were playing this game in South Bend, as they have been great at home, but have struggled on the road. Since that loss to Notre Dame, the Wolfpack have been on a complete other level, as they haven’t lost since, reeling off 12 straight wins. That run led to NC State winning the regular season ACC title and nabbing a 1-seed in this tournament.
The Bet: NC State Wolfpack
If this game were in South Bend, I might look at picking the Irish for an upset here, but it’s not, and that has me loving a play on the Wolfpack. NC State only has 3 losses on the year, and they would love nothing more than to avenge one of them in this game against Notre Dame. NC State knows how to win big games when it matters, and when I see that Notre Dame occasionally no shows in big games, I think a fade of the Fighting Irish is the play.
When playing elite teams this year, Notre Dame lost to UCONN by 19 points, Louisville by 26 points, and Louisville by 22 points. If the Irish play like they did in those losses, against NC State in this game, the Wolfpack could run up the score and blow this game completely out. This is a revenge game for NC State, and I think that they get it, with a win over Notre Dame.
#3 Indiana Hoosiers vs #2 UCONN Huskies
If you ask the books, UCONN is one of the betting favorites to win this tournament, with odds better than 1-seeds Stanford and NC State. That is because UCONN seemingly always wins the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. While the Huskies haven’t won the natty in 4 years, they have still won 10 of the last 20 tournaments, making them the dynasty to end all dynasty in women’s college hoops.
Women’s Basketball pic.twitter.com/dzECz1HB1V
— UConn Women’s Basketball (@UConnWBB) March 23, 2022
UCONN was a bit down this season, but that is only to their lofty standards, as they still dominated the Big East enroot to the regular season title, and their 27-5 record is amongst the most impressive in the country when you see how many tough games that they have played. UCONN is afraid of no one, and they hit the madness battle-tested with games against South Carolina, Notre Dame, Tennessee, and Louisville.
The Bet: UCONN Huskies
Betting against UCONN in March is just silly. This team, even when they are down, is always a threat to win this tournament, and while I don’t think they are the team to beat this year, if they do cut down the nets next weekend, I am sure there won’t be anybody that is too surprised.
Indiana is a decent team, but they finished 5th in the Big 10 standings this year, and they did not play well late in the year, with a 4-5 record in their final 9 games. It is going to take an elite team to knock UCONN out of this bracket, and the Hoosiers just aren’t it. This game will be competitive, and we may have to sweat it out some, but UCONN is too good, too consistently, not to want to be on their side in a high-pressure spot like this.
And there you have it folks, my NCAA Women’s Basketball Sweet 16 betting odds preview and picks. We still have to wait another day until the madness returns, and with the exact betting odds for all of these games having yet to be released, you want to make sure that you are staying tuned to TheSportsGeek all March long, as our team of expert handicappers bring you high value free plays for all of these NCAA March Madness tournament games.