2024 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament: Betting Picks for Saturday's Sweet 16 Games

Aidan McGrath
Aidan McGrath@ffaidanmcgrath
2024 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament: Betting Picks for Saturday's Sweet 16 Games

The women's NCAA Tournament is well underway, and we're already looking at the second day of Sweet 16 matchups. Saturday's slate features some must-watch games with a handful of the biggest names in college basketball.

With so much tournament action packed into such a tight window, it can be hard to parse out the betting landscape, but FanDuel Research has you covered. Here are some bets to consider -- based on FanDuel Sportsbook's NCAA women's basketball betting odds -- across Saturday's slate of games.

Louisiana State vs. UCLA Best Bet

Louisiana State -2.5 (-110)

This year's LSU Lady Tigers don't look a lot like the team that won last year's tournament, but star forward Angel Reese is still playing some exciting ball -- she's posted a double-double in 14 straight games. Reese has helped LSU dominate the boards this year, contributing to their 58.2% rebounding rate.

The problem? They're taking on the only team in college ball with a better rebounding rate as the UCLA Bruins led the NCAA with a 59.2% rate. Sophomore center Lauren Betts -- who stands 6'7" tall -- has been a dominant defender and a major factor in the Bruins' defense keeping their foes to a 38.6% success rate on two-point attempts (seventh-best).

Betts presents a potentially major problem for the Lady Tigers, whose offense mostly eschews three-pointers in favor of driving to the bucket. If Betts is on point, she could keep LSU off the scoreboard.

That said, I'm expecting the Lady Tigers to test Betts early and often. No team in the NCAA was better at drawing fouls than LSU, whose 950 total free throw attempts clocked in at 133 more than the second-place team. If they can get Betts in foul trouble early, they could start racking up points quickly, even against UCLA's strong defense.

With neither team especially favoring the three-point game, I give the edge to the team that converts more of their two-pointers into and-ones. Even if Betts and UCLA keep things from getting out of hand early on, I'm expecting LSU to steadily build a lead as the game progresses into the third and fourth quarters.

Colorado vs. Iowa Best Bet

Over 160.5 (-110)

As a general principle, it never feels great to target the over on the game with the highest total on the slate. This Colorado Buffaloes-Iowa Hawkeyes matchup has a 160.5-point total that clocks in a full 16 points higher than LSU's and UCLA's second-place 144.5-point total. That said, we are talking about the best offense in college basketball with the Hawkeyes.

The Hawkeyes casually scored 200 more points than any other team during their strong 31-4 season, averaging a whopping 92 points per game. Obviously, it helped to have record-breaking star Caitlin Clark -- whose player points prop line is 32.5 points -- but both Kate Martin and Hannah Stuelke averaged double-digit points per game this year, as well. Even in their tough victory over West Virginia they still managed 64 points -- their second-fewest in a game this year.

As reliably strong as their offense has been, their defense has been nearly equally as suspect. The Hawkeyes allowed 71.2 points per game, which ranked 46th-most in college ball. Their nigh-unstoppable offense forced other teams to try and keep up, creating high final scores on a constant basis.

The Buffaloes' offense has been strong in their own right this year, averaging 75.4 points per game (29th-most) while playing against one of the toughest schedules any team faced in the 2023-24 season. They've averaged 76.75 points per game in their last four outings (all NCAA Tournament and PAC 12 Conference Tournament-caliber opponents) and should be more than capable of keeping up their half of the bargain in this one.

We saw these teams face off against one another at this same point of the tournament last year, as well, and that one had 164 combined points. Considering that both of these offenses have been better this year than last, it's fair to think this game will hit its lofty over.

Baylor vs. USC Best Bet

USC -3.5 (-110)

The Baylor Bears have been one of the most exciting teams to follow in the tournament so far. They're fresh off a nail-biting three-point victory over the 4 seed Virginia Tech Hokies and have won eight of their last nine games.

Unfortunately, I think their exciting run ends here in the Sweet 16 -- the USC Trojans are on fire right now. Freshman guard JuJu Watkins is a rising star and has scored 51 points in the first two rounds of the tournament so far. She trailed only Caitlin Clark in points per game (26.9) this season and hasn't shown signs of slowing down in the tournament.

USC entered the tournament on a very positive note. They had just won the hyper-competitive PAC-12 Tournament, notching wins over other elite NCAA Tournament teams like UCLA, Stanford, and Arizona.

In addition to having the second-best bucket-getter in the game, USC's defense has really tightened up since the PAC-12 Tournament. They have kept both of their tournament opponents to 55 points through the opening rounds and held their PAC-12 opponents to 10.8 fewer points per game than those teams' previous season averages.

Part of their recent success has been junior guard-forward Rayah Marshall playing out of her mind. Over their last five games, she's averaging 10.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, 2.0 steals, and 2.0 blocks per game. Those are impressive averages without context but don't even factor in how the Trojans pulled their starters in each of the last two games.

The Bears' tournament run has been fun to watch, but the Trojans are just too locked in right now. I think USC will be able to pull off a comfortable win in this one.

Duke vs. Connecticut Best Bet

Duke +8.5 (-105)

The Duke Blue Devils' upset victory over the Ohio State Buckeyes was one of the more exciting moments in the tournament so far. It showed that despite their rocky 22-11 record during the season, they earned their spot in the tournament and can hang with top-seeded teams.

I don't know if they have what it takes to pull off a second straight upset, but I think they can keep things close against the UConn Huskies.

The Huskies' regular season stats certainly paint a picture of a dominant team, but they frankly didn't play many talented teams during the year. And when they did, they often lost. They lost all five of the games they played against other teams that made the Sweet 16, and it was by an average of 13.4 points. They racked up a lot of nice wins during the year but not against elite competition.

The Blue Devils and Huskies fared pretty similarly against their shared foes during the year, too. Both teams played NC State -- the Huskies lost that one, while Duke posted a 1-2 record in their matchups with the Wolfpack. Both teams lost by similar margins against South Carolina, and both teams beat Syracuse, as well. Connecticut beat Louisville, who did beat the Blue Devils by a rough 17-point margin.

Are the Huskies really 8.5 points better than the Blue Devils? I'm not so sure. Duke fought tooth and nail against some of the best teams in college to get where they are now. If you think Duke has what it takes to pull off the upset outright, you can find them with +335 odds on the moneyline for this exciting Sweet 16 matchup.

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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.