Will First March Madness Round Of 32 Games Go Chalk?

Written By Derek Helling on March 20, 2022

If US legal sportsbooks are right about the first eight Round of 32 games in this year’s women’s March Madness, the chalk will reign supreme on Sunday. After 32 Round of 64 games featured several upsets, though, is it realistic to just expect all the higher-seeded teams to win?

That’s up to each bettor to decide while looking at the lines Sunday and Monday. Sizing up the points spreads and the point totals might be a better strategy for those who want a good shot at profiting off their wagers.

Women’s March Madness rolls into Round of 32

The full slate of eight on Sunday is split between ABC, ESPN, and ESPN2. The first tip comes at 1 p.m. EDT and the last is set for 9 p.m. EDT. Five legal sports betting apps operating in at least one US jurisdiction are among those with lines on all eight contests. Those are:

  • Bally Bet
  • BetMGM
  • Caesars
  • DraftKings
  • FanDuel

All the favorites today have seeds in their brackets no lower than fourth. That means they are playing home games today for the last time this season. Even if they advance to the Sweet 16, they’ll be headed to their neutral regional sites.

That’s a big factor in their status as favorites in books’ moneylines and spreads. Some of them are much larger favorites than others, though. Looking at the spreads for the games reveals books have given the underdogs some legitimacy.

Spreads shrink for Round of 32 affairs

Take Sunday’s contest involving the top overall seed in the tournament, the South Carolina Gamecocks. For Friday’s Round of 64 game against the Howard Bison, books had them favored by about 43 points.

Bally Bet has South Carolina a 24-point favorite against the Miami Hurricanes today. While that’s still the largest spread of the day among women’s college basketball games at that sportsbook, it’s in line with the quality of the competition.

The smallest spread available today is on the Georgia Bulldogs at Iowa State Cyclones contest. BetMGM has Iowa State favored by 5.5 points. While the pair never met in the regular season this year, Georgia went 3-1 against teams from other major conferences during the season.

That included an upset of the North Carolina State Wolfpack on the road. Iowa State, comparatively, split its two games against teams from other major conferences. There’s reason to at least consider the Bulldogs for those looking for a favorite not to cover.

Just like with the spreads Sunday the totals have their extremes. Those extremes include the top two seeds from the Greensboro region that might face each other in the Elite Eight next weekend.

Looking at the totals markets for Sunday

The lowest total across the board for today is again on that Miami at South Carolina game. DraftKings has it at 118.5 right now. It isn’t hard to see why. The Gamecocks held the Bison to a mere four points in the first half of their Round of 64 win.

The Hurricanes weren’t exactly an offensive juggernaut in the regular season either, posting an average of just 61.2 points scored per game. So which game is on the opposite end of the spectrum? The Creighton Bluejays at Iowa Hawkeyes contest.

Iowa comes in with the top Her Hoop Stats Offensive Rating in the country. Creighton has been no slouch in that department, themselves ranking 16th in the same category. Neither squad excelled on the other end of the court, though.

In fact, Iowa’s average points allowed per game during the season ranked 303rd out of 356 D1 teams. FanDuel has its total for this game set at 157.5. The Bluejays have a trio of players, led by Emma Ronsiek, who averaged scoring in double figures while shooting no worse than 35% from 3-point range.

In the Round of 64 win over the Colorado Buffaloes, Creighton shot 42% from downtown and 50% from the field as a team. Thus, it’s hard to blame anyone who might think even that 157.5 number could be too low. You’ll never feel low, however, if you gamble on these women’s March Madness games responsibly.

Photo by John Peterson/Associated Press
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is the assistant managing editor of PlayUSA and the managing editor of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of the gambling industry with business, the law, and technology.

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