No. 1 overall seed South Carolina, defending champion Stanford, 11-time champion Connecticut and Baylor have combined to win eight of the last nine women’s Division I national titles. They happen to be among the front-runners according to the March Madness predictions on the eve of the start of the national tournament.
South Carolina also leads the NCAA NET rankings, so it is no wonder that the Gamecocks are the top overall seed in the March Madness bracket.
With the tournament beginning with two play-in games on Wednesday, it is a perfect time to look at the contenders, with South Carolina having the top odds to win the national title.
Let’s check the latest news, stats, injury reports, and March Madness Odds for NCAA Women’s Basketball. We’ve plenty of predictions for you to consider.
Gamecocks Clear Favorite
While the Division I men’s tournament field looks to be wide open, South Carolina is definitely the team to beat on the women’s side.
National player of the year candidate Aliyah Boston leads a talented roster that recently got 6-foot-7 Kamilla Cardoso back from injury.
The key for the Gamecocks is the 3-point shooting of Destanni Henderson and Zia Cooke, who have combined for 78 3-pointers.
When South Carolina was upset by Kentucky in the SEC title game, two of the five starters had seven points between them on 1-of-8 shooting. That isn’t going to work as the competition level increases and Boston will need support for the Gamecocks to win it all.
Boston is not only a talented offensive performer and an elite rebounder, but she is a finalist for the national defensive player of the year award.
— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessWBB) March 16, 2022
Iowa’s Caitlin Clark and Ashley Joens of Iowa State are among the top individual stars in the South Carolina bracket. Reigning NCAA finalist Arizona could meet the Gamecocks in the Sweet 16, which could be a challenging game to pick for those who bet online.
Pick: South Carolina +175 to Win National Championship
Healthy UConn Poses Problems
Five losses in the regular season are not the standard operating procedure for 11-time national champion UConn. However, with reigning national player of the year Paige Bueckers limited to 11 games and Azzi Fudd, the top-rated recruit in the country, missing 11 games, the Huskies went into games with a different team than the one that will be chasing another national title.
Freshman Caroline Ducharme emerged as a key performer when Bueckers and Fudd were injured while Aaliyah Edwards is playing much better than she was earlier in the season. The best UConn teams had productive seniors so Christyn Williams, Olivia Nelson-Ododa, Evina Westbrook and Dorka Juhasz will be asked to step up as the tournament progresses.
Yes, there are plenty of reasons other than UConn’s proud history that the March Madness odds have the Huskies among the top contenders once again.
Don’t let a No. 2 seed in the March Madness brackets fool you, this is a team capable of winning it all. It doesn’t hurt that the Huskies don’t have to leave the state of Connecticut to reach the Final Four. UConn will be favored in the Las Vegas odds as long as the Huskies are playing in their home state.
Pick: UConn +325 to Win Title
Don’t Count Out Defending Champions
Stanford has the third-best odds to win the title despite taking a 20-game winning streak into the tournament. The defending champions have somehow flown under the radar. Ten of the 11 players who played in the national championship are back. Haley Jones has shown the ability to play her best on the biggest stage.
Cameron Brink has made impressive strides from her freshman to sophomore season and, while Stanford misses last year’s top scorer, Kiana Williams, it has more than enough talent and experience to play with and beat anybody in the field.
Texas and LSU, who have coaches with proven track records in the NCAA Tournament, will look to challenge Stanford, although the college basketball spreads will be favoring the Cardinal.
Pick: Stanford +500
ACC Ready to Represent
Notre Dame isn’t the national championship contender it has been in the past, but that doesn’t mean that the Atlantic Coast Conference lacks title contenders.
North Carolina State (+900) and Louisville (+1400) have the fourth and fifth-best odds to win the national title.
North Carolina State drew the short straw because one of the No. 1 seeds was going to be sent to play in the Bridgeport (Conn.) regionals, knowing that UConn would be in that bracket regardless of how the Huskies’ season played out. The Wolfpack will be the higher seed if everything goes according to play in the regional final, but it will certainly be a home-court advantage for the Huskies.
Elissa Cunane isn’t asked to shoulder as much of the offensive burden as others around the country, but she is a tough matchup, is an elite offensive rebounder and it doesn’t hurt that she is an 83 percent shooter from the foul line. The transfer of Diamond Johnson gives the Wolfpack a streaky but dynamic scorer from the perimeter. Getting Raina Perez and Kayla Jones to utilize a fifth season of eligibility gives NC State plenty of experience.
Louisville has had more explosive offensive teams but this could be one of the deepest rosters that Jeff Walz has had. Hailey Van Lith is the top scorer while transfers Kianna Smith, Emily Engstler, Chelsie Hall, Liz Dixon and Ahlana Smith provide offensive support. With Baylor, Tennessee and Michigan in Louisville’s region, the Cardinals will have earned the trip to the Final Four if they get to Minneapolis.
Pick: North Carolina State (+900), Louisville (+1400)
Looking to Crash the Party
While the Final Four bracket could come from the group listed above, there are other teams that could make their way to Minneapolis.
Baylor (+1800) has the sixth-best odds to win the title and NaLyssa Smith is playing like somebody eager to end her career with a championship. She has seven straight double-doubles, a record 20-20 game and has scored more than 30 points in three of her last six games. The question is whether her supporting cast will be enough to get the Bears to the Final Four.
Texas, Arizona and Iowa are all tied at +3300 in the odds to win it all.
Texas coach Vic Schaefer didn’t get the “Secretary of Defense” moniker by accident, and his team is among the best defensive teams in the country. The Longhorns’ offense will need to catch fire, and having a team with more turnovers than assists is ideal when it comes to teams with lofty March Madness predictions.
Iowa’s Caitlin Clark is not only the leading scorer in the country, but also the leader in assists per game. Like Baylor’s Smith, she is the type of player who can take over late in huge games at this time of the year.
Arizona came a basket away from winning the national title. It’s a little different team, but certainly, the championship pedigree being built in Tucson can’t be ignored.