Women’s NCAA Tournament Predictions: Maryland Poses Threat to South Carolina, Futures Value On Iowa

Women’s NCAA Tournament Predictions: Maryland Poses Threat to South Carolina, Futures Value On Iowa article feature image

As the 2023 NCAA Women's Tournament kicks off, the South Carolina Gamecocks find themselves in familiar territory as massive favorites to repeat as national champions.

Dating back to last season, Dawn Staley has led her team to 38 straight victories, with their last loss coming in the 2022 SEC championship. The Gamecocks are the only undefeated team left in the country and have been winning in dominant fashion — only six of their opponents have come within single-digits of the -200 favorite to cut down the nets in Dallas.

Before we look deeper at each region in the field, there are three important factors to consider when betting the women’s tournament and filling out your bracket:

  • Unlike true neutral sites for each round of the men’s tournament, the top four seeds in each region host the first two rounds of the at their home court.
  • Don’t look to move Nos. 14, 15 or 16 seeds any further on your bracket or place a moneyline bet on one of these longshots in the first round — they are a combined 1-335 since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1994.
  • A final four has featured a No. 3 seed or lower only once in the past five tournaments.

Let’s break down the bracket to identify where there's still value with futures, lookahead to potential first-round upsets, and identify a few sleepers who could make a run to the Final Four.

Action has partnered with Her Hoop Stats for coverage of the 2023 Women's NCAA Tournament — check the Action app for Dano Mataya's best gameday bets between the opening round and national championship!

Women's NCAA Tournament Predictions

Greenville 1 Region

Futures Value: Maryland +4000 (bet365 and Caesars)

Led by future lottery WNBA pick Diamond Miller, the Terps pose the biggest threat to South Carolina reaching a Final Four for the third straight season. In just their second game this season, way back in November, Maryland lost to South Carolina in Columbia by 25 points but were without Miller and trailed by only six points at half.

The Terps have won 18 of their last 21 games with their only losses coming to an elite Indiana team on the road and a strong Iowa team twice — once on the road, then again in the Big Ten tournament.

Potential First Round Upset: No. 12 Portland vs. No. 5 Oklahoma

The Pilots have a chance to send the Sooners home in the first round for the second straight year. This game will be played on a neutral site in Los Angeles (UCLA).

The West Coast Conference champions will be playing in their time zone against a defense that ranks 257th in the country in terms of Defensive Rating, according to Her Hoop Stats.

Sleeper of the Region: No. 11 Illinois / Mississippi State

Facing off in the First Four games, both of these teams rank in the top 40 of the Her Hoop Stats' net rating. They also both have a great shot at advancing to the Sweet 16 by beating a vulnerable 6-seed in Creighton on a neutral court in South Bend, and knocking off the host team Notre Dame, who will likely be without the services of Olivia Miles, their star point guard.

Greenville 2 Region

Futures Value: Indiana +900 (BetRivers)

The Hoosiers have lost only three games all season and are one of the best shooting teams in the country. They have an inside presence with the nation’s most efficient paint scorer in Mackenzie Holmes, as well as shooters from deep.

Indiana has the offensive weapons and a stellar coach to compete with South Carolina.

Potential First Round Upset: No. 12 FGCU vs. No. 5 Washington State

HerHoopStats.com predicts a FGCU four-point win against the PAC12 Tournament champions. Head coach Karl Smesko has a run-and-gun play style that is unlike anything the Cougars have seen all year.

The Eagles of Florida Gulf Coast University also have tournament experience, knocking off Virginia Tech in the first round last season.

Sleeper of the Region: No. 11 UNLV

Like FGCU, UNLV is another 30-win team that cannot be overlooked. UNLV has the ability to pull off the first-round upset against an injured No. 6 Michigan team and are balanced enough offensively to knock off an untested No. 3 LSU Tigers team in Baton Rouge to make it to the Sweet 16.

Seattle 3 Region

Futures Value: Virginia Tech +5000 (FanDuel)

Quietly, the Hokies have become one of the hottest teams in the country.

The Kenny Brooks-coached squad has the back-to-back ACC Player of the Year in Elizabeth Kitley and has rattled off 11 straight wins, cruising to the ACC tournament championship.

Despite the recent hot streak that earned them the top seed in this region, Virginia Tech has the best odds of any No. 1 seed we’ve seen in the past few tournaments.

Potential First Round Upset: No. 12 Toledo vs. No. 5 Iowa State

Both teams will be coming off conference tournament championships, but this Toledo squad has covered all three games against Power Five opponents they have faced, even winning outright in Ann Arbor handing Michigan its first loss of the season.

The Rockets have a WNBA-level talent in Quinesha Lockett, who averages 17.7 points per game and could knock off Iowa State at a neutral site.

Sleeper of the Region: No. 3 Ohio State

The Buckeyes have the potential to make a run at a national title.

Ohio State has shown it can be one of the best teams in the country at full strength, and with the return of extremely talented two-way guard Jacy Sheldon, the Buckeyes' unique defensive press scheme becomes even stronger and more dangerous.

Seattle 4 Region

Futures Value: Iowa +2000 (FanDuel)

At this point in her career, Caitlin Clark is must-see TV. She’s putting up video game numbers and is a threat to score as soon as she crosses halfcourt.

The Athletic’s National Player of the Year is not alone, either — the Hawkeyes rank first in the country in points per game, FG%, points per play and numerous other offensive categories.

Potential First Round Upset: No. 11 Middle Tennessee State vs. No. 6 Colorado

The Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders are severely under-seeded in this tournament. They are statistically a top-20 team in the country and will show that against Colorado on a neutral court.

The Her Hoop Stats model predicts a three-point win for the 11-seed.

Sleeper of the Region: No. 4 Texas

Texas has one of the top five defenses in the country and is almost unbeatable at home.

Suffering only two losses in Austin, the Longhorns should cruise past No. 13 ECU. And if they’re able to outlast the winner of the No. 5 Louisville vs. No. 12 Drake matchup, that could set up a potential rematch of last year’s Elite Eight in the Sweet 16 with a vulnerable Stanford squad. Head coach Vic Schaefer has been to five straight Elite Eights and is dangerous in March.

A lot depends on the offensive ability of the Longhorns, who will hopefully see the return of senior guard Sonya Morris, who has missed the last 10 games with a leg contusion.

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Apr 23, 2024 UTC