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

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IMarch 27, 2021

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

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    Jessica Hill/Associated Press

    Big-time upsets in March? Not in the 2021 NCAA women's basketball tournament. With the Sweet 16 round set to begin Saturday, every No. 1 seed and No. 2 seed is still alive, while every team that was a No. 7 seed or lower was eliminated during the first two rounds.

    That means the tourney should be setting up for some exciting matchups in the later rounds, though. There's a strong chance that many of the No. 1 seeds and No. 2 seeds will be victorious again on either Saturday or Sunday, moving closer to having to play each other.

    Here's a look at the schedule for the Sweet 16 round, along with odds and picks for each game.

Sweet 16 Schedule, Odds, Picks

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    Stephen Spillman/Associated Press

    Saturday, March 27

    No. 1 UConn (-15) 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 (-1), 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 (-14.5) vs. No. 5 Missouri State, 3 p.m. ET, ABC

    No. 2 Louisville vs. No. 6 Oregon (-1), 7 p.m. ET, ESPN

    No. 2 Maryland (-13) vs. No. 6 Texas, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN

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

UConn Will Win Big in Auriemma's Return

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    Jessica Hill/Associated Press

    Geno Auriemma has led UConn to a ton of success since he became the team's head coach ahead of the 1985-86 season, winning 11 national championships and making 20 appearances in the Final Four. However, he wasn't with the Huskies through the first two rounds of this year's tournament due to a positive COVID-19 test.

    That didn't stop UConn from rolling to two lopsided wins. It defeated No. 16 High Point 102-59 and beat No. 8 Syracuse 83-47. Now, Auriemma has rejoined the team and is set to lead the Huskies into a Sweet 16 matchup against No. 5 Iowa on Saturday.

    UConn, which is 26-1 this season, is a 15-point favorite for this game. And while Iowa will be a tougher opponent than the two previous teams the Huskies have faced, they still shouldn't have any trouble rolling to a big win over the Hawkeyes. A big reason for that will be the play of freshman guard Paige Bueckers, who is averaging a team-high 19.9 points this season.

    While UConn could be tested in the later rounds when it faces other top teams, it should win big in Auriemma's return. So don't have any reservations about betting on the Huskies to win by more than 15 points and continue their march to another Final Four appearance.

Indiana Will Knock off NC State in Close Game

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    Ronald Cortes/Associated Press

    While the majority of the No. 1 seeds should win this weekend, NC State could be in some danger. The Wolfpack are on a 10-game winning streak after notching wins over No. 16 North Carolina A&T and No. 8 South Florida, but now they have to face a tougher opponent in No. 4 Indiana.

    The Hoosiers are in the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history after notching lopsided victories over No. 13 VCU and No. 12 Belmont, winning those games by margins of 31 and 22 points, respectively. And while Indiana has already made team history by making it this far, it isn't ready for the season to be over.

    "Our goal coming into the season wasn't to get to a Sweet 16 and stop," Hoosiers senior guard Ali Patberg said, per Jared Kelly of "We have bigger goals and we've had those goals, and so we understand that, again, life is so short, and so we want to enjoy all the steps that we've taken and all the milestones we've reached."

    Indiana is holding opponents to 59.3 points per game, and its defense could be tough on NC State, which has gotten off to some slow starts to open the tournament. Expect the Hoosiers to set the tempo early and hold on for the big victory to extend their remarkable season.

Maryland Should Win Big, Gear Up for Tougher Matchups

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    Ronald Cortes/Associated Press

    While several No. 1 seeds are the top favorites to win the national title (Stanford, UConn and South Carolina), Maryland is right up there with those teams as likely championship contenders. The Terrapins are 26-2 and have won 15 games in a row, as their last loss came on Jan. 25 at Ohio State.

    Maryland has notched two convincing wins to open the NCAA tournament, beating No. 15 Mount St. Mary's 98-45 and defeating No. 7 Alabama 100-64. Now, the Terps are looking to keep their run going by taking down No. 6 Texas on Sunday night.

    Since Brenda Frese became head coach in 2002, Maryland has had plenty of success, including winning the national title in 2006. But this is the first time the Terps have reached the Sweet 16 since 2017, and they'll be looking to advance to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2015.

    That shouldn't be a problem, and Maryland is likely to cover its 13-point spread against Texas. The Terps will win big as they continue to roll toward a deep tournament run and prepare to face the top teams in the field.


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