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March Madness 2023 – Betting tips for first round of women’s NCAA tournament


The 2023 women’s NCAA tournament includes a massive favorite in the South Carolina Gamecocks (32-0), but plenty of intrigue remains for the days and weeks ahead.

So which teams are worth betting on in the opening rounds? Which future bets should have your attention? And what other bets stand out?

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

Tournament futures

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

Maryland +4000: The Terps would have to meet South Carolina in the regional final but have the right kind of talent to possibly pull off a shocker. If Maryland somehow ends the Gamecocks’ season in Greenville, then the Terps would essentially be an even play against any of the other top seeds left in the tournament. — Creme

Favorite opening-round picks (Friday and Saturday)

Norfolk State vs. South Carolina under 112.5: Don’t expect the Spartans to slow down South Carolina, but defense is what they do best. Meanwhile, offense is a significant challenge for Norfolk State, which ranks 289th in the country in effective field goal percentage. How are the Spartans going to score? The Gamecocks are the nation’s top-rated defensive team and held another MEAC opponent, Howard, to 21 points in last year’s first round. South Carolina won’t even try to score enough itself to get to the number if the Spartans’ output is a low as it should be. — Creme

UNLV +4 over Michigan: The Rebels have reached a new level, making consecutive trips to the Big Dance. They have not lost this calendar year, ripping through conference play. However, the Wolverines have faced stiffer competition and are getting healthier. I think UNLV is for real and will grab the points. –– Kezirian

Baylor +1 over Alabama: The Crimson Tide’s NET rating, which currently stands at 29, was inflated all season. They haven’t beaten an NCAA tournament team since Jan. 15. They also finished the season with four straight losses. There is a reason Alabama is just a 10-seed. Baylor had its struggles, too, but did win at Texas two weeks ago and was tested more often in a Big 12 that was better than this year’s SEC. Some of the analytics will favor the Crimson Tide, but many of those numbers were put up against the weaker part of their nonconference schedule. –– Creme

Middle Tennessee State -1 over Colorado: The Blue Raiders bring balance — with four players averaging double digits — and a solid résumé, having beaten Louisville in conference play. Colorado is limping to the finish line, having lost three of its past five games, although the Buffaloes did face stiff Pac-12 competition. — Kezirian

Texas -20.5 over East Carolina: This might seem like a big number for a Longhorns team that has been struggling offensively, but it should be able to slowly build a lead and pull away from the even more offensively challenged Pirates. East Carolina lacks the size to hang around with a Texas team that is fifth in the country in offensive rebound rate. The putbacks will pile up as the Longhorns pull away. — Creme

Toledo +10 over Iowa State: There is a lot to like with the Rockets, who lost only two MAC games and also defeated Michigan in nonconference play. The Cyclones just had an impressive run through the Big 12 tournament, but Toledo has the goods to keep this inside the number. — Kezirian

Top upset picks

UNLV +3.5 over Michigan: I don’t like this Lady Rebels team as much as I did last year’s heading into the tournament when they covered against Arizona in the first round, but there is something amiss with this Wolverines team. Michigan’s only wins down the stretch were over Rutgers and Penn State, and star Leigha Brown missed a couple of games in late February for unspecified reasons. Take 31-win UNLV with the points. — Creme

Princeton (ML) over NC State: Princeton is a five-point underdog, but to grab more value (+185) take it to win outright. The Tigers have a way of playing up, and NC State has been one of the season’s biggest disappointments. The health of point guard Diamond Johnson is still a question mark. She’s going to play on her injured ankle but a limited Johnson means a limited Wolfpack. Getting through the Ivy League was tougher for Princeton than in past years, but this core group won a game in the NCAA tournament last March. — Creme

Middle Tennessee (-1) over Colorado: The Blue Raiders were my favorite “upset” pick when the bracket was first revealed, but when the line landed at Middle Tennessee -1, it didn’t resonate as well. I still like them to beat Colorado, but the money isn’t there on the money line. — Creme

Other picks that stand out

Maryland 13-1 to win Greenville Region: Cashing this ticket would require South Carolina to lose, and the Gamecocks already beat the Terps by 25 points earlier this season. But that was very early, and Maryland is a program that will not beat itself under the bright lights. It has the goods to make this run, and the value is too good to pass up. –– Kezirian

Odds to win championship (as of March 15)

South Carolina at -200
($20 bet wins you $10)

UConn at +800
($10 bet wins you $80)

Stanford at +900
($10 bet wins you $90)

Indiana at +1000
($10 bet wins you $100)

Iowa and LSU at $1800
($10 bet wins you $180)

Utah at +4000
($10 bet wins you $400)

Maryland and Virginia Tech at +5000
($10 bet wins you $500)

Notre Dame and Texas at +6000
($10 bet wins you $600)

Iowa State and Duke at +7500
($10 bet wins you $750)

Tennessee at +8000
($10 bet wins you $800)

Ohio State at +9000
($10 bet wins you $900)

NC State at +10000
($10 bet wins you $1000)

Oklahoma, Louisville, Middle Tennessee, Villanova at +15000
($10 bet wins you $1500)

Gonzaga, Florida State, Creighton, Arizona, South Florida, South Dakota State at +20000
($10 bet wins you $2000)

Ole Miss at +25000
($10 bet wins you $2500)

North Carolina, Colorado, Alabama, UCLA at +30000
($10 bet wins you $3000)

Florida Gulf Coast, Marquette, Mississippi State at +40000
($10 bet wins you $4000)

Baylor, Drake, Michigan, Washington State, Illinois at +50000
($10 bet wins you $5000)

All others listed at +100000
($10 bet wins you $10,000)

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