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UConn Huskies vs. South Carolina Gamecocks Betting Odds, Picks, Predictions: How To Bet Women’s NCAA Basketball Championship

UConn Huskies vs. South Carolina Gamecocks Betting Odds, Picks, Predictions: How To Bet Women’s NCAA Basketball Championship article feature image
Credit:

Elsa/Getty Images. Pictured: Paige Bueckers.

  • South Carolina is favored in the women's college basketball national championship tonight.
  • UConn won a sensational game against Stanford on Friday, while the Gamecocks handled Louisville.
  • Michael Arinze breaks down the matchup and makes his betting pick below.

UConn vs. South Carolina Odds 

Odds via BetMGM.

UConn Odds +3.5 (+150)
South Carolina Odds -3.5 (-185)
Over/Under 125.5
Tipoff 8 p.m. ET
TV ESPN

Connecticut’s Final Four win over Stanford means there will be a new champion in Women’s Division I basketball. UConn won on Friday despite committing 19 turnovers compared to 10 for Stanford.

The game was somewhat peculiar, considering how poorly both teams shot the ball. Neither shot better than 36.8% from the floor. However, UConn’s sophomore guard Paige Bueckers still managed to shoot 53.8% while scoring 14 points on 13 shot attempts.

UConn will likely need Bueckers to be even more aggressive to have any chance at winning the title against the No. 1-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks.

UConn

After just six games into the season, there was a sense of despair within the UConn fanbase when Bueckers suffered a non-contact injury in the fourth quarter against Notre Dame. The apparent fear was an ACL injury, but an MRI and CT scan revealed a tibial plateau fracture which carried a recovery timeline of six to eight weeks.

Bueckers’ absence was immediately felt as UConn lost two of its next three games. However, the Huskies bounced back to win 14 of their next 16 games.

With Bueckers sidelined, other players had to step up to fill her void. I suspect UConn head coach Geno Auriemma probably learned more about his team following the injury to his star player. My only question is whether he’ll be brave enough to utilize more of his bench with a championship on the line.

Sunday’s game will be the third meeting between Connecticut and South Carolina in the past two seasons. Our analysis doesn’t make much sense, given Bueckers’ importance on the UConn team, including the games before she arrived on campus.

However, as dominant as this Gamecocks team is, UConn did manage a 63-59 overtime win in Bueckers’ freshman season. Moreover, South Carolina’s squad is essentially the same as it returned 100% of its scoring.

In the first meeting, Bueckers went off for 31 points. However, I was more impressed with UConn’s play when they went with a smaller lineup that featured their guards, Evina Westbrook and Nika Muhl. The Huskies seemed to have more dynamism with the smaller lineup, which also helped them in their transition game.

Connecticut scored 10 points on the fast break while holding South Carolina scoreless in the same category. Scoring points in transition takes away one of the Gamecocks’ strengths: their ability to block shots in the half-court defense.

I think UConn’s strength in this game can be unknown. Auriemma has to have faith in his bench and embrace taking an unconventional route to winning the game.

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South Carolina

We could spend all day talking about the strengths of this Gamecocks team.

Forward Aliyah Boston was recently named the Defensive and Naismith Player of the Year, becoming the first player to win both awards. At 6-foot 5, she has the complete package, given her ability to play on both ends of the court. The future lottery pick plays a crucial role in South Carolina blocking 7.5 shots per game.

The Gamecocks can also hit the boards well, as they often control games thanks to their 47.8 rebounds per contest. South Carolina’s offensive rebounding also helps generate a ton of second-chance points.

As far as any potential weaknesses, we could probably point to South Carolina’s free throw shooting and perimeter game. The Gamecocks are shooting 67.7% from the charity stripe, which puts them 265th in the country. Beyond the arc, South Carolina ranks 252nd with 4.9 3-pointers per game.

In contrast, Connecticut is slightly better from the foul line as it’s shooting 69.3% (tied for 215th), but it averages two more 3-pointers per game than South Carolina and ranks in the top-50 in 3-point percentage (34%). However, the Gamecocks gets plenty of chances at the charity stripe, as they’re tied for 38th with 19.6 attempts per game.

Given the Gamecocks’ strength on the boards, it should be no surprise that they outrebounded the Huskies in each of the past two meetings. However, South Carolina went 1-1 in those games. There’s no question that the Gamecocks’ seemed to put it all together this season, as evidenced by their 34-2 record. They also have the highest margin of victory per 100 possessions (+29.5) in the country.

Yet, while Boston is the reigning Naismith Player of the Year, Bueckers won the award in the previous year. The UConn sophomore likely would’ve been in the running again for the top prize had she not suffered the knee injury. After watching her drop 31 on the Gamecocks as a freshman, South Carolina would be mindful not to take her lightly. 

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Women’s NCAA Championship Predictions

This game has a bit of everything in terms of a handicap.

I rewatched both meetings from the past two seasons and despite the Gamecocks’ 73-57 victory over the Huskies last November, South Carolina trailed by as many as 13 points in the game. After the third quarter, UConn trailed 57-54, but it managed just three points the rest of the game. Connecticut picked a lousy time to go ice cold as it struggled to overcome its 19 turnovers, including six in the fourth quarter.

I think Auriemma missed a trick by only playing Muhl for three minutes in the game. UConn needed more ball handlers on the court, and Muhl could’ve helped take some pressure off Bueckers as the primary ball-handler.

My model makes South Carolina closer to a seven-point favorite in this game. However, I must also consider that the data would likely be more favorable for UConn had Bueckers not suffered the knee injury. UConn averaged 73 points with Bueckers sidelined and 76 points when she’s been able to suit up.

And with everything on the line in a winner-take-all game, she’s more than capable of producing a herculean effort. As a result, I’m a bit indecisive on a side in this matchup and would instead look towards a play on the total.

For UConn to have a chance, it will need to get out in transition and drive to the basket with the hope of getting South Carolina’s front-court players in foul trouble. Thus, I like the option of playing the over at 125.5 or better.

I also like the under in Azzi Fudd’s scoring prop of 13.5 points. Fudd played only 10 minutes in the earlier meeting against South Carolina. It was her shortest outing on the court this season.

Fudd’s coming off a three-turnover performance against Stanford, so it wouldn’t surprise me if she’s somewhat tentative in this game. The freshman has had three turnovers twice this season, and in both instances, she failed to register more than 13 points in her next game.

Pick 1: Over 125.5 or better (half unit)
Pick 2: Azzi Fudd under 13.5 points (1 unit)

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