NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament 2021: Odds for Sunday's Subregionals Bracket

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IMarch 20, 2021

NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament 2021: Odds for Sunday's Subregionals Bracket

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    Jessica Hill/Associated Press

    When the 2021 NCAA women's basketball tournament gets underway Sunday, all four No. 1 seeds will be in action. And while each of those teams is likely to roll to big victories, there could be some competitive matchups among the 16-game slate, all of which will be taking place in the San Antonio area.

    Stanford is the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament and will be looking to make a run to its first national championship since 1992. The Cardinal haven't lost a game since mid-January, as they rolled through most of Pac-12 play on their way to winning the conference tournament title.

    UConn (Big East), Baylor (Big 12) and NC State (ACC) each won its respective conference tournaments and then earned a No. 1 seed for the NCAA tourney. Baylor is looking to win its second national title in three years, while UConn last won one in 2016. NC State has never won a national championship, and its lone Final Four appearance came in 1998.

    All four of these teams are heavily favored in their opening-round matchup against No. 16 seeds on Sunday. Here's a look at the full 16-game slate, along with odds for each contest.

Sunday Schedule, Odds

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    Matthew Hinton/Associated Press

    No. 5 Iowa (-10.5) vs. No. 12 Central Michigan, noon ET, ESPN

    No. 7 Virginia Tech (-2.5) vs. No. 10 Marquette, noon ET, ESPNU

    No. 8 Oklahoma State (-7.5) vs. No. 9 Wake Forest, 1 p.m. ET, ESPN2

    No. 4 Kentucky (-5.5) vs. No. 13 Idaho State, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN

    No. 3 Tennessee (-13.5) vs. No. 14 Middle Tennessee, 2 p.m. ET, ABC

    No. 6 Michigan (-1.5) vs. No. 11 Florida Gulf Coast, 3 p.m. ET, ESPN2

    No. 1 NC State (-20.5) vs. No. 16 North Carolina A&T, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN

    No. 2 Baylor (-33.5) vs. No. 15 Jackson State, 4 p.m. ET, ABC

    No. 5 Georgia Tech vs. No. 12 Stephen F. Austin (-5.5), 4:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU

    No. 8 Syracuse (-4.5) vs. No. 9 South Dakota State, 5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2

    No. 1 South Carolina (-32.5) vs. No. 16 Mercer, 6 p.m. ET, ESPN

    No. 8 Oregon State (-5.5) vs. No. 9 Florida State, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2

    No. 1 UConn (-40.5) vs. No. 16 High Point, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

    No. 4 West Virginia (-12.5) vs. No. 13 Lehigh, 8 p.m. ET, ESPNU

    No. 8 South Florida (-2) vs. No. 9 Washington State, 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2

    No. 1 Stanford (-44.5) vs. No. 16 Utah Valley, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN

    Odds via Bovada

NC State Is Safest No. 1 Seed to Bet to Cover Spread

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    Ben McKeown/Associated Press

    Of the four No. 1 seeds, NC State has the largest point spread in the opening round, as the Wolfpack are 20.5-point favorites against No. 16-seeded North Carolina A&T. While that's still a large spread, NC State should have no trouble winning by at least 21 points in what will likely be a lopsided matchup.

    The Wolfpack played some competitive games during ACC play (including in the conference tournament), but they had no trouble recording blowout victories against much of their non-conference competition. North Carolina A&T is 14-2 and won the MEAC tournament, but its schedule has not been as challenging.

    Not only is NC State looking to start off on a strong note, but it's aiming to get deeper into the NCAA tournament than it has in recent years. The Wolfpack have only made it past the Sweet 16 once (when they reached the Final Four in 1998), but they've made it to that round in each of their past two tourney appearances.

    Using its recent momentum and relying on its strong offense (it ranked 19th in the nation with 77.3 points per game), expect NC State to cruise on Sunday. The Wolfpack will easily win by more than 20 points and show that they're going to be a tough team to beat this March.

Florida Gulf Coast Is Smart Underdog to Consider Betting on

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    Luis M. Alvarez/Associated Press

    Florida Gulf Coast may be a No. 11 seed, but it's only a 1.5-point underdog for its first-round matchup against No. 6-seeded Michigan. The Eagles are 26-2, having won 25 consecutive games and cruising to the Atlantic Sun tournament championship, their sixth in eight years.

    The Wolverines are a solid team, having lost only five games this season. However, four of those came in their past six games, and they lost their first game of the Big Ten tournament, falling to Northwestern in the quarterfinals. If Michigan is going to make a tournament run, it will need to get back on track.

    It will also need to find a way to stop Florida Gulf Coast from making its three-pointers. No team in the country shoots from long range more than the Eagles, who rank first in the nation in three-pointers made (334) and three-pointers attempted (1,001). They've taken 205 more treys than any other Division I team.

    Florida Gulf Coast has a balanced long-range attack, too, as it has four players who have made at least 43 3-pointers. If a few of those shooters are dialed in (particularly sophomore guard Kierstan Bell), then it has the potential to knock off Michigan and advance to the second round. So the Eagles could be a smart underdog to bet on Sunday.

Lehigh Could at Least Cover Spread Against West Virginia

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    Robert Franklin/Associated Press

    As a No. 13 seed, Lehigh is a 12.5-point underdog in its first-round matchup against No. 4-seeded West Virginia. And while the Mountain Hawks may not be successful in their attempt to upset the Mountaineers, they could at least play a competitive game and lose by only 12 or fewer points.

    Lehigh is currently on a four-game winning streak, tied for its longest of the season. By winning the Patriot League tournament, the Mountain Hawks improved to 10-5, and they'll now look to carry that recent momentum into their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2010.

    If Lehigh is going to pull off an upset, it will likely need to knock down its shots from three-point range. The Mountain Hawks are a solid long-range shooting team, as they ranked second in the Patriot League with three-point percentage of 34.3, which helped them score a conference-high 72.2 points per game.

    While West Virginia is going to be a tougher opponent, Lehigh could make things interesting by hitting some big three-pointers and playing to its offensive potential. That makes the Mountain Hawks an intriguing team to consider betting on to cover the spread in the opening round.