March is perhaps the best time of year to be a basketball fan. While the NBA playoff race is heating up, the NCAA brings not one but two college basketball national championship tournaments worth watching.
There’s non-stop action available for sports bettors as both the men’s and women’s March Madness tournaments are played simultaneously. However, with only an estimated one percent of betting volume going to the women’s bracket, there’s value hiding in plain sight.
Read on for an intro to women’s March Madness betting and advice for wagering on the 2021 women’s NCAA tournament.
Basketball was one of a dozen women’s sports added to the NCAA championship program in 1981-82. Since then, 15 teams have won it all, with the Connecticut Huskies and Tennessee Lady Vols taking home half of all NCAA Women’s Basketball Division I titles thus far.
Over the years, 28 other teams have reached a Final Four but have yet to win a title. Recently, that list includes:
- Louisiana State
- Mississippi State
- Missouri State
- Michigan State
- Oregon State
- Penn State
The NCAA canceled the men’s and women’s March Madness tournaments in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, the entire women’s tournament will be played in the San Antonio area.
Basics of the Women’s March Madness Tournament Today
The women’s March Madness tournament expanded to 64 seeds in 1994. Unlike the current men’s tournament, the women’s bracket does not feature a play-in round. Thirty-two teams qualify automatically by winning their conference tournament, while the remaining 32 are selected at-large by a selection committee.
The seeding for the single-elimination tournament is released during a selection show on a Monday in the middle of March – typically the day after Selection Sunday for the men’s bracket. From there, basketball chaos ensues as both the men’s and women’s tournaments are played throughout the remainder of March, culminating with the Final Four’s and National Championship games in early April.
One other key difference between the men’s and women’s tournaments is the women play four ten-minute quarters instead of two 20-minute halves. You’ll find lines available for each quarter.
Why You Should Bet on Women’s March Madness
The better question is, why not bet on women’s March Madness? Lines are offered, but it’s still a fairly unsaturated betting market. This can be a good thing in terms of finding value lines, as sportsbooks allocate fewer handicapping resources to smaller markets. Just keep in mind that odds will also be less affected by public money and perception.
Women’s basketball has few, if any, “one and done” players who play one season then turn pro, as is common with star players in NCAA men’s basketball. Many of the biggest names in women’s basketball – Breanna Stewart, A’Ja Wilson, and Sabrina Ionescu, for example – played four years at their respective universities before heading off to the WNBA. Having stars around for four years allows for rich team chemistry, compelling storylines, and more consistent team data from one year to the next.
The women’s game is growing, and with legal sports betting available in more than 20 states, there’s never been a better time to get in on the action.
Ways to Bet on The Big Dance
The types of bets available for the women’s March Madness tournament are very similar to the wagers you can make on the men’s tournament. Here are some of the most common ways to bet on The Big Dance:
- Bet on individual games (moneylines, spreads, totals)
- Bet on the tournament champion
- Wager on Final Four futures
- Live betting markets
- March Madness props, such as tournament MOP, the biggest margin of victory, highest-scoring game, first team to 15 points, etc.
For a detailed explanation of each of these bet types, refer to our in-depth guide on how to bet on March Madness.
Trends in Women’s College Basketball
The women’s March Madness field is getting deeper each year, and the sport’s popularity is growing as a result.
Gone are the days when the UConn Huskies waltzed their way to a title without letting an opponent within 20 points the entire tournament.
In fact, the 11-time champion Huskies haven’t won since four-time Most Outstanding Player Breanna Stewart took her talents to the WNBA in 2016. No doubt that’s something freshman phenom Paige Bueckers is looking to change.
Ten different teams have reached a Final Four in the past four years (2016-2019), including four first-time Final Four contenders (Oregon, Oregon State, Syracuse, and Washington).
That said, even as the competition gets stiffer, it’s worth keeping in mind historical trends in women’s college basketball. Here are some unique considerations you should be aware of when betting on women’s March Madness.
1) At least one #1 seed has made the Final Four every year.
There have been four instances of all four #1 seeds making the Final Four (1989, 2012, 2015, and 2018). The championship game has featured two #1 seeds 14 times, most recently in 2019 when Baylor beat Notre Dame by a single point (82-81).
2) Of the 18 teams to enter the tournament unbeaten, nine have gone on to win it all.
The UConn Huskies account for six of those championships, including the most recent in 2016. The only other unbeaten teams to win a title are the 1986 Texas Longhorns, the 1998 Tennessee Lady Volunteers, and the 2012 Baylor Lady Bears.
The 2014 final between UConn and Notre Dame featured two unbeaten teams, with the Huskies coming out on top.
3) Early upsets are rare.
Since the expansion to a 64-team tournament in 1994:
- #1 seeds are 103-1 against #16 seeds
- #2 and #3 seeds are each 104-0 against #14 and #15 seeds, respectively
Looking for a first-round upset? The #9 seed went 55-49 against the #8 seed between 1994 and 2019.
4) Home court is key, but not in 2021.
Home court advantage is massive in college basketball, particularly on the women’s side. However, with fewer (if any) fans allowed at games in 2021 and the entire tournament being held in the San Antonio area, home court won’t be much of a factor this year.
Where to Find NCAA Women’s Basketball Betting Information
The biggest key to any successful sports betting strategy is to do your research.
Sportsbooks are sometimes slower to adjust betting lines for sports that receive less overall betting volume, so if you follow women’s college basketball closely enough, you can likely find an edge.
The women’s tournament receives less media attention than the men’s, but all 63 women’s March Madness games are available on ESPN.
For basketball fanatics looking to take a deeper dive into women’s college basketball, here are some suggestions for where to find useful information ahead of the tournament.
Of course, the NCAA also has a dedicated hub page for women’s basketball, and the top schools all receive extensive coverage from their athletics departments and campus sports media.
Find Success Betting on Women’s Basketball
There’s plenty of value to be found betting on women’s basketball, but learning how to wager on March Madness can be tricky at first.
Sports Betting Dime has you covered. Check out our How to Bet on Sports section for more advice on all things college basketball betting.
Have fun and enjoy the action out there!