If you’re even a casual fan of women’s college basketball, you’ve probably hated the stretch of dead time between the Round of 32 and Sweet 16. So far, the 2022 tournament has been one for the ages, featuring massive upsets, buzzer-beaters, unlikely heroes, down-to-the-wire shootouts, and true madness.
Now that we’ve had a moment to catch our breath, here’s what Friday’s Sweet 16 matchups will look like. As you would expect, legal Canadian and US sportsbooks have plenty of action available on all four games.
North Carolina vs. South Carolina, 7 p.m. EDT, ESPN
First in the Greensboro Region, the South Carolina Gamecocks take on the fifth seed North Carolina Tar Heels in what should be a matchup of lights-out defense and strong offense. On Sunday, Dawn Staley’s South Carolina defense made history by allowing only 54 points in their first two tournament games, crushing the previous record for fewest points allowed at 71.
This effort comes behind SEC Player and Defensive Player of the Year, Aliyah Boston, who also averages a double-double in points and rebounds this season (not to mention 2.8 blocks per game). Star power aside, North Carolina just cruised past Arizona, another team known for stellar defense, to advance to the Sweet 16.
Although South Carolina has looked invincible as of late, they did lose the SEC championship to Kentucky. The presence of two ten seeds in this year’s Sweet 16 proves that the tournament is anyone’s for the taking. Don’t be surprised if North Carolina pulls the upset or at the very least puts up a good fight.
This is the first game in which moneyline bets on the Gamecocks have been available across most legal sports betting apps. In previous rounds, South Carolina was such a heavy favorite that some apps took the moneylines off the board.
In this battle of the Carolinas, Caesars has North Carolina +400 to pull off the upset. The point spread here sits between 9.5 and 10 points. As far as the point total goes, bettors are looking at a near-consensus at 117.5. DraftKings currently has its line at 116, though.
Creighton vs. Iowa State, 9:30 p.m. EDT, ESPN2
Speaking of upsets, the 10-seed Creighton Bluejays will look to further destroy your bracket when they take on the Iowa State Cyclones at 8:30. After a close win against UT-Arlington in the Round of 64, Iowa State cruised past Georgia in the second round.
For their trouble, they will face upset-minded Creighton, who is coming off a major nail-biter of a win against the other major Iowa university, the Hawkeyes. In what is another border battle (Creighton is in Nebraska), it’s foolhardy to dismiss the Bluejays as a fluke.
Creighton has made over 1/3 of their 3-point attempts in the first two rounds of the tournament, including a late clutch three from Iowa transfer, Lauren Jensen, to punch their ticket to the Sweet 16. Sharp-shooting Iowa State may have met its match from three-point territory.
Expect a close game with lights-out perimeter shooting from both the powerhouse that’s been here before and the Cinderella team in uncharted waters. Because of Creighton’s proven propensity to pulverize pretenders, sportsbooks are giving them a fighting chance.
Caesars and FanDuel both have them +205 to move onto the Elite Eight, the lowest of the four underdog moneylines for Friday. While most books have the spread on this game at 5.5, BetRivers, DraftKings, and PlaySugarHouse give a little more to Iowa State by setting the line at six.
Bettors can find a range of totals for this game from 138.5 to 139.5 depending on the book. On the other side of the country, two more games are available if neither Greensboro Region affair draws your interest.
Ohio State vs. Texas, 7 p.m. EDT, ESPN2
Kicking off action in the Spokane Region, the Big 12 champion Texas Longhorns takes on the six seed Ohio State Buckeyes and it turns out everything is bigger in Texas, including offense.
Texas has cruised its way to the Sweet 16, defeating Fairfield by 18 and Utah by 22, but this isn’t to say that Texas has been perfect leading up to March. They’ve lost to several unranked opponents in the Big 12 throughout the season and simply seem to have hit their stride when it counts.
Ohio State, however, won’t be a pushover after handling LSU by 15 points in the second round and finishing 14th in the regular-season national rankings. Falling to Indiana in the Big Ten tournament might have been the push the Buckeyes needed to go long in March. Two teams with nearly identical records and similar up-and-down journeys to March will make for a fun game.
If you’re looking for the best line on the underdog to win here, FanDuel has Ohio State +198 to get to the Elite Eight. Spreads are varying between 4.5 and 5.5 between books and totals deviate from 136.5 to 137.
Maryland vs. Stanford, 9:30 p.m. EDT, ESPN
Finally in the Spokane Region, the defending national champion Stanford Cardinal takes on the fourth-seed Maryland Terrapins. Both teams have had a smooth road to the Sweet 16 and haven’t been shy about throwing down huge scores.
Maryland is one of two teams to score over 100 points in the tournament so far and has beaten both Delaware and Florida Gulf Coast by over 30 points to advance to the Sweet 16, not to mention, they’re averaging 40 rebounds per game and shooting nearly 50% from behind the three-point line.
But unlike Maryland’s other tournament matchups, Stanford is no double-digit seed opponent. They aren’t going to surrender the longest active winning streak in women’s college basketball of 22 straight games easily.
Expect a high-scoring game with excellent three-point shooting, strong defense, and maybe another dunk from Stanford forward, Fran Belibi. Speaking of slam dunks, sportsbooks have a Stanford win here set as exactly that.
FanDuel again has the premier line for those wanting to stake an upset with Maryland +275. On the spread, you can find lines between six and 7.5 while the totals rest between 144 and 144.5.