Women’s Final Four Odds, Picks, Predictions: Bets for UConn vs. Stanford, South Carolina vs. Louisville
M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: UConn’s Paige Bueckers
We’re down to the final weekend in the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament. This competition’s had a bit of everything, including two 10 seeds upsetting a No. 10 seed in the second round, and some epic finishes.
The tournament had its first double-overtime finish as UConn and NC State went back and forth in an instant classic. If those games serve as a precursor for this Final Four weekend, basketball fans should be in for a treat.
Women’s Final Four Predictions
Louisville vs. South Carolina Odds
|Spread||South Carolina -8.5|
|Moneyline||Louisville +315 / South Carolina -410|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
The first game of the doubleheader features two top seeds, with the Louisville Cardinals taking on the South Carolina Gamecocks. However, the point spread suggests that the two teams are further apart than you might expect. After all, the Gamecocks are the top overall seed in this tournament.
South Carolina’s reached the Final Four in back-to-back years, but this time, it will try to go one step further after last year’s 66-65 loss to Stanford. There’s certainly plenty of experience on this team as it welcomed back all five of its starters.
South Carolina (33-2) has been even better this season, leading the nation in margin of victory at 20.6 points per game, and they’re ranked first in blocked shots with 7.6 per contest.
South Carolina does much of its work on the interior with the All-American center and Naismith player of the year in Aliyah Boston. Yet, I think Louisville can succeed by utilizing a double and triple-team because the Gamecocks can sometimes struggle if they’re forced to make shots from the perimeter. South Carolina ranks 169th in the country in 3-point shooting (30.8%). In contrast, Louisville ranks 16th in the category, shooting 36% from beyond the arc.
After running the numbers, my model makes the Gamecocks closer to a -9 point favorite. However, the one thing that gives me pause is South Carolina’s free-throw shooting. The Gamecocks are shooting 67.6% from the charity stripe, putting them 269th in Division I. Thus, it wouldn’t surprise me if the backdoor is left slightly ajar should the Cardinals hang around in the fourth quarter.
I’ll be interested to see where this number closes because this is a game you might want to bet closer to tipoff if you like the dog. Since I seldom like to go against my model, I’d only recommend a lean with the Cardinals. But if the spread reaches +9.5, I would make it an official play.
Lean: Louisville +8.5 or better
UConn vs. Stanford Odds
|Moneyline||UConn -110 / Stanford -120|
|Time||9:30 p.m. ET|
It’s hard to imagine a women’s Final Four without the Connecticut Huskies. After all, this season marks their 14th straight appearance since the 2008 season. However, as good as the Huskies have been, they haven’t won a championship since 2016.
That must seem almost unbearable for UConn fans who were spoiled by four straight titles during the Breanna Stewart years from 2012 to 2016. UConn and Stanford are two of the blue bloods of women’s college basketball. Stanford is the defending champion after ending a 29-year title drought last season.
To reach its sixth Final Four in 13 seasons, Stanford outlasted the second-seeded Texas Longhorns in the Elite Eight. Although the Pac-12 champs will face another two-seed in Connecticut, the Huskies could have easily been a top seed if not for a knee injury to guard Paige Bueckers.
Bueckers played a massive role in the Huskies’ 91-87 double-overtime win over No. 1 seed NC State. The sophomore led all scorers with 27 points and scored 13 in overtime. UConn went 15-4 with Bueckers sidelined, but it is 14-1 with her on the court.
The Women’s Basketball Committee did NC State a disservice by not moving UConn to another part of the country, as that double OT game was played in Bridgeport. Sportsbooks were quick to spot this error as it was the lower-seed Huskies were listed as the favorites in the matchup.
There’s no question that Connecticut benefited from playing the game in front of a partisan home crowd in Bridgeport — roughly an hour away from its campus. To advance to the championship game, UConn will need to find a different advantage to get past another No. 1 seed in Stanford.
Two things would worry me if I’m a Huskies fan: For one, Bueckers had only one assist on Monday night, and the team finished with just 10 assists compared to 20 for NC State. I think that lack of ball movement is unsustainable, particularly when facing top-tier opponents.
Another key to Friday’s game is that UConn will be without their 6-foot-5 forward Dorka Juhász, who fractured her left wrist against NC State after looking impressive during a short stint off the bench. Her injury means that the Huskies will likely have to go with a shorter rotation, thus potentially exposing their bigs to foul trouble.
UConn will also have one fewer day of rest compared to Stanford.
Connecticut opened as the consensus favorite at anywhere from one to 1.5 points. However, the line’s gone in the opposite direction as now it’s Stanford, a 1.5-point favorite at most sportsbooks.
Since that number is right around my model’s projection, playing this game on the moneyline might make more sense. You can grab Stanford at -120 over at BetMGM.
Pick: Stanford ML -120