2024 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament: First Round Betting Picks (Friday)

Brandon Gdula
Brandon Gdula@gdula13
2024 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament: First Round Betting Picks (Friday)

The 2024 NCAA women's tournament bracket is set, and the first round begins Friday, March 22nd.

Here are some of the best bets to consider -- based on the NCAA women's basketball betting odds at FanDuel Sportsbook -- for Friday's first-round matchups.

Richmond vs. Duke Betting Odds

Duke -9.5 (-114)

This game could center on three-point volatility, as Richmond is a great shooting team. They're eighth, nationally, in effective field goal percentage and ninth in true shooting percentage, via Sports-Reference.

Not only that, but they're also a high-volume shooting team from deep. They boast the 19th-highest three-point attempt rate in the nation among 360 Division I women's programs.

The biggest issue there, though, is that Duke is a top-40 team in the country at limiting three-point attempts (39th in three-point attempt rate).

Because of their three-point-centric offense, Richmond also ranks bottom-20 in the country in offensive rebounding rate, and Duke is 43rd in total rebounding rate, as they gather 54.0% of available rebounds -- led by 5'10" guard Oluchi Okananwa off the bench.

So, if Richmond's shots are falling, then they can keep it close. Addie Budnik (4.8 three-point attempts per game at a 41.5% clip), Rachel Ullstrom (4.6; 43.3%), Maggie Doogan (4.5; 34.6%), and Siobhan Ryan (3.3; 46.9%) are the focal points there, so limiting shot volume won't be as easy as game-planning for one or two shooters.

But, overall, Duke's stifling defense (57.7 points per game with only one team reaching even 60 over their last six games) should be the difference-maker in this matchup.

My model, based on 10,000 simulations, thinks Duke covers 59.2% of the time.

Marshall vs. Virginia Tech Betting Odds

Virginia Tech -11.5 (-110)

Over 150.5 (-118)

Virginia Tech is a double-digit favorite over Marshall in the 4-versus-13 matchup in Region 3.

Marshall ended the season 26-6, a better record than Virginia Tech's 24-7 mark. However, Marshall's strength of schedule sits 164th in the nation (via Sports-Reference); Virginia Tech's is 39th.

Ultimately, this matchup will be dictated a lot by pace. Marshall operates with the nation's fastest pace (80.7 possessions per game) with Virginia Tech 256th (68.4). Coupled with that fast pace is a lot of three point attempts for Marshall: a nation-high 31.7 threes per game with a top-60 conversion rate (34.0%).

They could put up points.

However, so can Virginia Tech, who boasts a top-12 adjusted offense by Sports-Reference and TheAnalyst's data.

And that's problematic for Marshall's defense, which is just outside the top 140 in the nation by the same metrics.

Specifically, Marshall lets up a 48.6% effective field goal percentage but can generate turnovers, which happens to be a strength of Virginia Tech's offensively.

Rice vs. LSU Betting Odds

Under 146.5 (-114)

Despite a volatile offseason and regular season, LSU has high hopes, as their +700 odds to win the women's NCAA Tournament are third-highest.

But they are the 3 seed in the Albany 2 Region with a potential matchup against 6 seed Louisville looming for a Hailey Van Lith narrative game.

First, though, they face a 14 seed in the Rice Owls who finished with a 19-14 record and earned an automatic bid by virtue of winning the American Athletic Conference tournament as the 10 seed. Their four games to win the tournament came off the heels of a five-game losing streak.

They did not allow any opponents to reach 60 points in the AAC tournament. They did face a top-10 offense in Gonzaga and let up 80 points back in December but also held a top-40 unit (TCU) to 67 points in November.

LSU has let up an average of 61.2 points to teams between 100th an 150th in adjusted offensive rating (Rice is 119th).

My model, across 10,000 simulations, thinks this game is 61.3% likely to stay under 147 points.

Maryland vs. Iowa State Betting Odds

Under 151.5 (-114)

The data likes another under here in a late game between Maryland and Iowa State.

While both teams have top-40 adjusted offenses, they both have top-50 adjusted defenses, as well, and this total is pretty elevated.

On the full season, Maryland has averaged 77.7 points per game (22nd in the nation) with Iowa State at 74.6 (40th).

But there's more.

Maryland has averaged 73.4 per game against top-50 defenses; Iowa State has averaged 69.4 per game in that split with total point averages of 141.0.

Maryland also has seen scoring decreases over a 10-game stretch during which they are 7-3 with totals averaging 137.1 points. Their games averaged 156.3 entering that split. Pace in those recent games has ticked down to 75.2 possessions per game (their games averaged 78.9 possessions entering the final 10).

Iowa has a 6-1 record over their final seven games, and those games are tied to lower-scoring matchups: 137.4 points per game in that split.

MasseyRatings projects 148.2 points for this game; my model shows 146.3 projected points (as well as a 60.2% under rate).

New to FanDuel Sportsbook? You have a chance to get $200 in Bonus Bets if your first bet wins—valid across all sports until April 9th! See the promotions page for more information.

Looking for more college basketball betting opportunities? Head over to FanDuel Sportsbook to check out all of the upcoming college basketball odds.

Sign up for FanDuel Sportsbook and FanDuel Daily Fantasy today!

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.