College basketball: Betting tips for first round of women’s NCAA tournament

The 2023 NCAA Women’s Tournament has a big favorite in the South Carolina Gamecocks (32-0), but there’s still a lot of intrigue ahead.

So, which teams should you bet on in the early rounds? What future bets should get your attention? What other stakes stand out?

Here are Sportzshala experts Charlie Creme and Doug Kezirian with their best bets.

Tournament futures

UConn +900: The Huskies are healthy and this version of UConn has the most impressive collection of victories of any team in the country in November. Even without star Azzi Fudda, the Huskies fought South Carolina and now they don’t have to face the Gamecocks until the national title game. Indiana would fall into the same category, but UConn has slightly better value. –– Cream

Maryland +4000: The Terps will have to face South Carolina in the regional finals, but they have the right talent to possibly produce a shocking event. If Maryland somehow ends the Gamecocks season in Greenville, then the Turps will essentially be tied against every other top seed left in the tournament. — Cream

Favorite First Round Picks (Friday and Saturday)

Norfolk State vs. South Carolina to 112.5: Don’t expect the Spartans to slow down South Carolina, but they are best at defending. Meanwhile, offense is a major concern for Norfolk State, which ranks 289th in the nation in field goal percentage. How will the Spartans score? The Gamecocks are the best defensive team in the country and in the first round last year they outscored another MEAC opponent, Howard, by 21 points. South Carolina won’t even try to score enough points to get into the number if the Spartans’ score is low, as it should be. — Cream

UNLV +4 over Michigan: The rebels reached a new level, making consecutive trips to the Big Dance. They are undefeated this calendar year, tearing the conference apart. However, the Wolverines have faced stiffer competition and are getting healthier. I think UNLV is really going to score. –– Kezirian

Baylor +1 over Alabama: The Crimson Tide’s NET rating, currently at 29, has been inflated for the entire season. They haven’t beaten an NCAA tournament team since January 15. They also finished the season with four consecutive losses. There’s a reason Alabama only has 10 locations. Baylor has had his troubles too, but he won in Texas two weeks ago and tested more often in the Big 12, which has been better than the SEC this year. Some analysts favor Crimson Tide, but many of those numbers have been weighed against the weaker part of their non-conference schedule. –– Cream

Average Tennessee -1 over Colorado: The Blue Raiders bring balance—four players are averaging double figures—and a solid resume by beating Louisville in the conference. Colorado is limping to the finish line, having lost three of their last five games, although the Buffalo have faced stiff Pac-12 competition. — Kezirian

Texas -20.5 over East Carolina: That may seem like a big number for a Longhorns team that struggled on offense, but they should be able to gradually build up the lead and break away from even more aggressive Pirates. East Carolina isn’t big enough to play a Texas team that ranks fifth in the nation in offensive rebounds. Rejections will pile up as the Longhorns leave. — Cream

Toledo +10 over Iowa: There’s a lot to like about the Rockets, who have only lost two games to MAC and also beat Michigan out of the conference. The Cyclones just put up an impressive performance in the Big 12 tournament, but Toledo has what it takes to keep it on the list. — Kezirian

Best upset picks

UNLV +3.5 over Michigan: I don’t like this Lady Rebels as much as I did last year before the tournament when they defended Arizona in the first round, but there’s something wrong with this Wolverines team. Michigan’s only wins were over Rutgers and Penn State, with star Leiga Brown missing a couple of games in late February for unspecified reasons. Take the 31-win UNLV with points. — Cream

Princeton (ML) instead of North Carolina State: Princeton is a five-point underdog, but to get more value (+185), use it to win outright. The Tigers know how to play along, and North Carolina State was one of the biggest disappointments of the season. Point guard Diamond Johnson’s health is still in question. She’s going to play on an injured ankle, but limited Johnson means limited Wolf Pack. Making it through the Ivy League has been harder for Princeton than in years past, but that core group won a game in the NCAA Tournament last March. — Cream

Middle Tennessee (-1) over Colorado: The Blue Raiders were my favorite “upset” pick when the grid was first revealed, but when the line landed at Middle Tennessee -1 it didn’t resonate. I still love it when they beat Colorado, but there’s no money at stake. — Cream

Other options that stand out

Maryland 13-1 to win Greenville Region: South Carolina would have to lose to cash in that ticket, and the Gamecocks had already beaten the Terps by 25 points earlier in the season. But it was very early, and Maryland is a program that won’t beat itself in bright light. It has everything you need for this run and the price is too good to pass up. –– Kezirian

Chances of winning the championship (as of March 15)

South Carolina at -200

(A $20 bet will net you $10)

UConn at +800

(A $10 bet will net you $80)

Stanford at +900

(A $10 bet will net you $90)

Indiana at +1000

(A $10 bet will net you $100)

Iowa and LSU $1,800 each

(A $10 bet will net you $180)

Utah +4000

(A $10 bet will net you $400)

Maryland and Virginia Tech at +5000

(A $10 bet will net you $500)

Notre Dame and Texas at +6000

(A $10 bet will net you $600)

State of Iowa and Duke at +7500

(A $10 bet will net you $750)

Tennessee +8000

(A $10 bet will net you $800)

Ohio State +9000

(A $10 bet will net you $900)

NC status at +10000

(A $10 bet will net you $1,000)

Oklahoma, Louisville, Middle Tennessee, Villanova, +15000

(A $10 bet will net you $1,500)

Gonzaga, Florida, Creighton, Arizona, South Florida, South Dakota, +20000

(A $10 bet will net you $2,000)

Ole Miss +25000

(A $10 bet will net you $2,500)

North Carolina, Colorado, Alabama, UCLA, +30000

(A $10 bet will net you $3,000)

Florida Gulf Coast, Marquette, Mississippi, +40000

(A $10 bet will net you $4,000)

Baylor, Drake, Michigan, Washington State, Illinois, +50000

(A $10 bet will net you $5,000)

All others are listed at +100000

(A $10 bet will net you $10,000)


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