Thursday, February 29, 2024

College basketball: Betting tips for women’s NCAA tournament Final Four

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The final round of the 2023 women’s NCAA tournament begins Friday with the Final Four from American Airlines Center in Dallas. The LSU Tigers will take on the Virginia Tech Hokies in the first game, and Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes will attempt to pull off an upset of the undefeated South Carolina Gamecocks, led by Aliyah Boston.

So what are the top plays Friday night?

ESPN experts Charlie Creme and Doug Kezirian offer their best bets.

NCAA Women’s Final Four Lines

LSU faces Virginia Tech in the first game. The Tigers are currently a 2-point favorite over Virginia Tech with the total. What is your best betting advice for this matchup?

Creme: LSU-Virginia Tech under 134 points. The Tigers have been grinding teams the entire tournament. Michigan, Utah and Miami each scored at least 20 points below their season average in games against LSU. Meanwhile, the Tigers’ offense has sputtered, averaging under 65 points per game in the tournament. Without the dominance on defense, LSU would not be here. Throw in that Virginia Tech likes to play slow — 251st in possessions per 40 minutes — and I expect another LSU game in the 60’s.

Kezirian: I am taking Georgia Amoore over 16.5 points. The junior guard has scored at least 21 points in six straight games. She is a focal point of the offense, attempting at least eight three-pointers in each of those games. In one game, Amoore actually shot 19 threes. She can also get to the line, shooting 24 of 26 from the charity stripe in this tourney.

As South Carolina attempts to win its second straight NCAA championship, the Gamecocks meet Naismith Player of the Year Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes in the semifinal game. The Gamecocks are currently an 11.5-point favorite over the Hawkeyes, with the total set at 149.5. What are your thoughts on this game, and who do you like?

Creme: South Carolina -11.5 over Iowa. Much like it did last year the Gamecocks’ offense has gotten better as the tournament has progressed. The 86 points South Carolina put up against Maryland in the Elite Eight is the most the program has scored in a tournament game since the regional semifinal of the 2017 title run. If the Gamecocks are scoring like that, and Iowa is not as good of a defensive team as Maryland, then it’s going to be a long night for the Hawkeyes. South Carolina wears teams down physically. As great as Caitlin Clark is, getting knocked around for 40 minutes, will take its toll. Look for the Gamecocks to stretch out the margin in the final 15 minutes and cover.

Kezirian: If I had to play a side, I would probably lay the points. However, I like Caitlin Clark under 9.5 assists (-120). She has been on a roll this tournament but undefeated South Carolina is a different story. The Gamecocks have held other top distributors well below their average and have not allowed a double-digit assist game since 2018.

Odds to win championship (as of March 30)

South Carolina (-340)
LSU (+600)
Iowa (+800)
Virginia Tech (+1300)

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