NCAA Women's Tournament 2021: Odds, Bracket Ahead of Final Four

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IMarch 31, 2021

Arizona's Aari McDonald reacts after making a basket during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Indiana in the Elite Eight round of the Women's NCAA tournament Monday, March 29, 2021, at the Alamodome in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Morry Gash/Associated Press

Three No. 1 seeds are among the teams that have reached the Final Four of the 2021 NCAA women's basketball tournament.

That shouldn't come as a surprise, though. Stanford, UConn and South Carolina have been among the best teams in the country all season, and they're all national championship contenders.

However, the fourth team that still has national title aspirations is more of a surprise. Arizona has made a tournament run as a No. 3 seed, and it will be making its first Final Four appearance in program history.

The Wildcats had previously never made it beyond the Sweet 16. And the only other time they even reached that round was in 1998.

If Arizona is going to win its first national championship, it will have to take down two No. 1 seeds, starting with UConn in the semifinals, which take place Friday at the Alamodome in San Antonio. The winner will advance to play either Stanford or South Carolina in the final on Sunday.

Here's everything else you need to know about this year's Final Four.


Final Four Schedule, Odds

Friday, April 2

No. 1 Stanford vs. No. 1 South Carolina (no line), 6 p.m. ET, ESPN

No. 1 UConn (-13.5) vs. No. 3 Arizona, 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook


Final Four Preview

Throughout the tournament, each of the three remaining No. 1 seeds have looked impressive. And any of them could win the national championship.

Stanford is the No. 1 overall seed but hasn't been tested much, winning each of its first four tournament games by at least 11 points. In its Elite Eight round matchup on Tuesday, it defeated No. 2 Louisville 78-63, overcoming a 12-point halftime deficit with a dominant second half.

Making their eighth appearance in the Final Four since 2008, the Cardinal are looking to reach the national championship game for the first time since 2010. They haven't won a national title since 1992, but this could be their best opportunity to end that drought in a while.

However, Stanford is going to face a tough test against fellow No. 1 seed South Carolina on Friday. The Gamecocks have also won each of their four tournament games by at least 11 points, and they're coming off their most impressive showing yet.

South Carolina defeated No. 6 Texas 62-34 on Tuesday, when its defense completely shut down the Longhorns, who were held scoreless for the entire fourth quarter. Texas shot 23 percent from the field and 20 percent from three-point range, while committing 15 turnovers and being outrebounded 46-33.

Of the four remaining schools, South Carolina most recently won a national championship, in 2017, its only title in program history. That was also the last time the Gamecocks reached the Final Four.

There's a strong chance that the winner of the Stanford-South Carolina matchup will face UConn for the national title. The Huskies are making their 13th consecutive Final Four appearance and will be looking to win their seventh national championship since 2009.

However, UConn last won a national title in 2016. And considering how successful the program has been under longtime head coach Geno Auriemma, that's quite a drought for the Huskies.

Auriemma missed UConn's first two games of the tournament after testing positive for COVID-19, but that didn't slow down the Huskies, who won each of their first three games by at least 20 points. They were tested in their Elite Eight matchup against No. 2 Baylor on Monday but held on for a 69-67 victory.

While UConn will be heavy favorites to beat Arizona, the Wildcats have already made a surprise run to get to this point. They've notched impressive victories in the past two rounds, defeating No. 2 Texas A&M 74-59 in the Sweet 16 and beating No. 4 Indiana 66-53 in the Elite Eight.

Arizona senior guard Aari McDonald is having an impressive season, as she's averaging a team-high 20.3 points per game and has scored 31 and 33 points in the Wildcats' past two victories. If she has a big game against UConn, and if Arizona keeps playing at this high of a level, perhaps it will give UConn a competitive matchup.

Still, it remains highly likely that one of the No. 1 seeds will win the national championship. It's just not clear which one it will be.


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