March Madness predictions: Early Women’s Final Four picks, odds

March Madness predictions: Early Women’s Final Four picks, odds
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Let’s dive into my favorite early bets for the Women’s Final Four. 

NC State vs. South Carolina Prediction

  • Odds: South Carolina -11.5, Over/Under 139.5
  • Time: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN

NC State’s offense is begging for regression. 

The women Wolfpack have scored over 76 points in the past three Tournament games, but they needed a whopping 19-for-49 (39 percent) 3-point shooting performance to get there. 

The interior offense hasn’t been that good, given they’re shooting only 44% from 2-point range while averaging 25 paint points per game during the four-game stretch.

Without a supernova 3-point shooting performance, the Pack are likely not here. 

I’m banking on shooting regression for NC State against a South Carolina team that has held opponents to 27% from 3-point range on the year. 

Head coach Dawn Staley of the South Carolina Gamecocks celebrates with fans after beating the Oregon State Beavers 70-58 in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament.South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley celebrates with fans after beating Oregon State 70-58 in the Elite 8. Getty Images

NC State will have to lean on its defense to hang around with the ever-dominant Lady Gamecocks. 

And the Wolfpack’s defense matches OK here, specifically on the boards. 

South Carolina relies heavily on second-chance opportunities. Against Oregon State, 28 of the Gamecocks’ 70 points came from offensive rebounds.

They scored 21 second-chance points against North Carolina and 18 against Presbyterian. 

Nevertheless, NC State ranks in the top 15 nationally in defensive rebounding rate and second-chance points per game allowed. The Wolfpack allowed Chattanooga, Tennessee and Stanford to generate eight second-chance points combined. 

So, combine NC State’s looming shooting regression with its rock-solid defensive rebounding, and I expect a rock fight in this Final Four matchup. 

Pick: Under 139.5

UConn vs. Iowa Prediction

  • Odds: Iowa -2.5, Over/Under 163
  • Time: 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Caitlin Clark has played UConn twice in her storied career, and she lost both games. 

But she also shot under 40% from the field both games. 

For someone that shoots 58% from 2 and 38% from 3, it’s hard to imagine that type of poor shooting performance happening for a third consecutive game. 

With typical shooting splits, the Hawkeyes could’ve — or should’ve — won those previous matchups. 

Betting on College Basketball?

Meanwhile, the 2024 UConn Huskies are a tad different from those past teams. 

For starters, these Huskies have almost zero depth, running a six-woman lineup. They might be tired this late into the season, and are highly vulnerable to foul trouble. 

Additionally, these Huskies haven’t played a game within five points all year, so I worry about their crunch-time ability. 

Can Paige Bueckers really outplay Clark in a late, one-possession game with a trip to the National Championship on the line? 

I’m unsure, but I’m willing to bet against that. 

Pick: Iowa -2.5