2024 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament 2024 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament

The 2024 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament is set to kick off this week as superstar Caitlin Clark and her Iowa Hawkeyes look to avenge last season’s championship game loss to Angel Reese and the LSU Tigers while everyone tries to hand the unbeaten and top-seeded South Carolina Gamecocks their first loss of the season and prevent them from claiming yet another national title.

There are plenty of storylines heading into March Madness. And with women’s college basketball exploding in popularity this year, it’s understandably led a lot more sports bettors to get in on the action.

Here are the five best bets for the opening round of the 2024 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, with all lines courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.

5. Maine (+27.5) against Ohio State

The No. 2 seeded Ohio State Buckeyes are obviously one of the top teams in the entire tournament and a trendy pick for the Final Four after spending a significant chunk of the season ranked No. 2 in the country, but the Maine Black Bears are a tough matchup for the Buckeyes in the first round.

While the Buckeyes obviously have one of the most talented rosters in the entire country with Jacy Sheldon and Coty McMahon leading the way, Maine star guard Anne Simon could present some problems for the Buckeyes. Simon was the America East Player of the Year this season and the Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight season. With her likely matching up with McMahon, it won’t be easy for Ohio State to put up the scoring required to cover a 27.5-point spread especially if McMahon gets into foul trouble which has been an issue for her of late.

The Buckeyes also have a relatively thin bench compared to other teams in the field. If Ohio State is up late in the fourth quarter and goes to its bench, the Buckeye bench is not likely to expand the lead all that much.

4. Iowa State (-1) against Maryland

While the No. 10 seed Maryland Terrapins might have the bigger brand name in this matchup and a proven head coach with Brenda Frese leading the way, the No. 7 Iowa State Cyclones have been playing their best basketball of the season down the stretch the past few weeks, culminating in a run to the Big 12 Tournament title game where they fell to Texas.

Since the beginning of last month, Iowa State has had four wins against top-25 opponents, including wins against Baylor and Kansas State in the Big 12 Tournament. Meanwhile, Maryland has struggled whenever it plays a more talented team throughout the season, going just 1-8 on the season when facing off against ranked opponents.

Simply put, Iowa State has played its best basketball in its biggest games while Maryland has been at its worst in big games. That bodes well for the Cyclones in what figures to be a highly-contested matchup.

3. Fairfield (+23.5) against Indiana

The No. 4 seed Indiana Hoosiers are battled tested and ready for tournament play after a tough season in the Big Ten, but they drew a very difficult first-round matchup against the No. 13 seed Fairfield Stags.

While Indiana has one of the most high-powered offenses in the entire country, ranking No. 16 nationally with 79.5 points per game, it’s not going to be easy for the Hoosiers to score enough points to cover a 23.5-point spread against this stingy Fairfield defense.

While Fairfield might be relatively unsuspecting as a No. 13 seed, they actually have what is statistically the best defense in the entire tournament field, allowing just 54.1 points per game.

Fairfield is unlikely to win this game but expect them to cover.

2. Green Bay (+8.5) against Tennessee

The No. 11 seed Green Bay Phoenix may be a midmajor team facing off against a traditional superpower when they take on the No. 6 seed Tennessee Volunteers, but this is a dangerous matchup for the Lady Vols.

Green Bay enters the NCAA Tournament as one of the hottest teams in the country, playing its best basketball of the season. The Phoenix have won 10 of their past 11 games, winning the Horizon League Tournament title to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

And Green Bay hasn’t just been getting it done against other midmajors, they’ve faced two ranked teams this season – Washington State and Creighton – and won both of those games by double digits.

This will not be an easy matchup for the Vols.

1. Nebraska (-2.5) against Texas A&M

The Nebraska Cornhuskers have been playing by far their best basketball of the season over the past few weeks, winning seven of their last 10 games in the strong Big Ten Conference. Those games include a run to the Big Ten Tournament title game where they fell to Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes in overtime, as well as a win over the Hawkeyes back in February.

Meanwhile, the Texas A&M Aggies have limped into the tournament following a series of disappointing showings, losing six of their last eight games and four of their last five.

This is a simple matchup of a red-hot battle-tested team taking on a slumping team without many signature wins. That bodes well for the Cornhuskers.

[DK Sportsbook]