NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament 2021: Odds, Picks for Sweet 16 Bracket

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IMarch 26, 2021

NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament 2021: Odds, Picks for Sweet 16 Bracket

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Through the first two rounds of the 2021 NCAA women's basketball tournament, every No. 1 seed and No. 2 seed has advanced to the Sweet 16. But the competition is going to keep getting tougher, and several of these teams could be in jeopardy of losing soon.

    The Sweet 16 matchups will be taking place Saturday and Sunday. The winners will advance to the Elite Eight of the tournament, which is being held entirely in San Antonio because of the coronavirus pandemic.

    It wasn't surprising to see the national championship favorites roll to this point, including all four No. 1 seeds: Stanford, UConn, South Carolina and NC State. But will they be able to keep it going when facing more challenging opponents?

    Here's a look at the full Sweet 16 schedule, along with odds and picks.

Sweet 16 Schedule, Odds, Picks

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    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    Saturday, March 27

    No. 1 UConn (-16) vs. No. 5 Iowa, 1 p.m. ET, ABC

    No. 2 Baylor (-13) vs. No. 6 Michigan, 3 p.m. ET, ABC

    No. 1 NC State vs. No. 4 Indiana (-2.5), 6 p.m. ET, ESPN2

    No. 2 Texas A&M vs. No. 3 Arizona (-3), 8 p.m. ET, ESPN2

                     

    Sunday, March 28

    No. 1 South Carolina (-11.5) vs. No. 5 Georgia Tech, 1 p.m. ET, ABC

    No. 1 Stanford (-16.5) vs. No. 5 Missouri State, 3 p.m. ET, ABC

    No. 2 Louisville vs. No. 6 Oregon (-3), 7 p.m. ET, ESPN

    No. 2 Maryland (-13.5) vs. No. 6 Texas, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN

    Picks in bold against the spread. Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.

NC State Will Fall to Indiana, Become First No. 1 Seed to Lose

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    Ronald Cortes/Associated Press

    Indiana may not have faced the toughest competition in the first two rounds, but it looked impressive nonetheless. The No. 4-seeded Hoosiers beat No. 13-seeded VCU 63-32 and took down No. 12-seeded Belmont 70-48, advancing to the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history.

    Now, if Indiana wants to keep its historic season going, it will have to knock off No. 1-seeded NC State, which is 22-2 this season after defeating No. 16-seeded North Carolina A&T and No. 8-seeded South Florida in the first two rounds. The Wolfpack have won 10 straight games, with their most recent loss coming Feb. 7.

    However, the Hoosiers have been on a roll of their own, winning 11 of their past 12 games and taking down some strong opponents late in the regular season. They are led by the trio of sophomore forward Mackenzie Holmes (17.8 points per game), junior guard Grace Berger (15.5) and senior guard Ali Patberg (14.0).

    Although NC State is a No. 1 seed, Indiana is a 2.5-point favorite in this matchup. And it would be only fitting for the Hoosiers to keep the best season in program history going by knocking off one of the top teams in the country and extending their NCAA tournament run.

Texas A&M Capable of Winning as Betting Underdog

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    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    Texas A&M has been one of the best teams in the country all season, losing only two games. However, the Aggies have faced some adversity through the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament.

    In the opening round, the No. 2 seed held on for an 84-80 win over No. 15-seeded Troy, avoiding a massive upset. Then the Aggies needed overtime to beat No. 7-seeded Iowa State in the second round, eventually pulling out an 84-82 victory thanks to a buzzer-beater layup by sophomore guard Jordan Nixon.

    Those close calls are likely why Texas A&M is a three-point underdog for its Sweet 16 matchup against No. 3-seeded Arizona, which has opened the tourney with wins over No. 14-seeded Stony Brook and No. 11-seeded BYU. The Wildcats are capable of beating the Aggies, and it's likely to be a competitive game.

    However, Texas A&M is finding ways to win, even if the victories haven't been the most convincing. The Aggies boast an experienced starting lineup featuring four seniors, and that will help them hold on for a close victory and once again avoid elimination.

Championship Favorites Will Keep Rolling with Big Wins

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    Stephen Spillman/Associated Press

    Stanford, UConn and South Carolina have been the top three teams in the country this season, which led to each team receiving a No. 1 seed. They have been heavy favorites to win their matchups in the first two rounds, which they have done in convincing fashion.

    The competition will be a bit tougher in the Sweet 16, but don't expect anything to change for these teams. The Cardinal, the Huskies and the Gamecocks, once again all favored to win big, should march into the Elite Eight looking to continue their quests for a national title.

    Of the three teams, UConn has been the most dominant in the tourney, winning each of its first two games by at least 36 points. And the Huskies were without longtime coach Geno Auriemma for those games, as he tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the tournament. He returned to the team Wednesday.

    At some point, these teams are going to be tested, whether it's against a strong No. 2 seed in a later round or when they potentially go up against each other. For now, expect all three to dominate in the Sweet 16.

                      


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