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How to bet on NCAA women’s basketball (and best title odds)

Senior guard Destanni Henderson leads the Gamecocks in assists and steals this season. (John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

It took almost two months, but in the last few weeks, U.S. regulated sportsbooks finally got around to giving us something to bet on in women’s college basketball. No, we don’t have lines on individual games yet — that probably won’t happen until March. But DraftKings, FanDuel and PointsBet have posted odds on which teams have the best chance at winning the national championship.

As frustrating as sportsbooks’ lack of attention to women’s basketball can be, it also provides an opportunity to profit off of them. None of the lines on any of these three books have moved since they were first posted, despite the constantly shifting landscape that gives us new information about teams every week. (Does it really make sense to still have UCLA tied for 13th?)

It’s in that spirit that we dove into the data to find the best bets on this year’s title winner. If you’re new to betting, the main thing you need to know about the odds is that the number following the plus sign is how much money you would make on a $100 bet. For the math-inclined folks, you can find the breakeven point of those bets by dividing the amount bet ($100 in this case) by the amount returned (the original $100 plus the winnings).

As an example, a team with +400 odds would return $500 on a $100 bet (the $100 back and the $400 winnings), so the breakeven point would be 100/500, or 20 percent. This is called the implied probability, and it means you need the bet to have a greater than 20 percent chance of winning for it to be a good bet.

Now, onto the important stuff.

South Carolina, +225 at DraftKings (30.8% implied probability)

The fact that this didn’t move after Missouri’s Lauren Hansen buried the Gamecocks last month is just one of many examples of sportsbooks neglecting to follow women’s sports. Then again, one could argue that it shouldn’t have moved: South Carolina had already separated itself from the pack so much that most people, including AP Poll voters, still view them as the best in the nation.

The best team isn’t always the best bet, but the +225 odds here are hard to pass up. Consider that it’s been over a decade since the champion wasn’t a No. 1 seed; No. 2 seed Texas A&M in 2011 was the last to do it. You even have to go back four years to Arike Ogunbowale’s 2018 Notre Dame squad just to find the last champion that wasn’t the No. 1 overall seed.

After South Carolina ran through the laughably difficult non-conference schedule Dawn Staley put together (pending the upcoming UConn rematch), it’s almost impossible to imagine their end-of-season resume being unworthy of a top seed. That Missouri game was an indicator of how far the parity in this sport has come, but it’s not quite at the point yet where the nation’s best team has to sweat out early-round games. All we need for this bet to have value is a one-in-three chance that South Carolina cuts down the nets.

Stanford, +600 at PointsBet (14.3% implied probability)

Like South Carolina, Stanford was able to withstand a loss without dropping in the AP Poll when they retained their No. 2 ranking after falling to the Gamecocks. Also like South Carolina, this team looks to be on its way to a No. 1 seed.

After an early-season stretch in which the Cardinal were a couple of buckets away from a 2-4 start, questions arose around the loss of point guard Kiana Williams and if this year’s team had enough to overcome it. Subsequent double-digit wins over top-ten opponents Maryland and Tennessee vaulted them right back into the top tier, and the nation was reminded that Tara VanDerveer’s Princeton offense doesn’t always rely on a pure point guard once it starts clicking.

The biggest factor that has allowed Stanford to compensate for its lack of a floor general, however, has been its defense. VanDerveer has generally been content to allow opponents to shoot 3s, particularly in recent seasons. The last four Cardinal teams have allowed opponents to take over 30 percent of their shots from beyond the arc, each ranking outside of the top 200 in 3-point rate allowed.

VanDerveer has changed her defense this season and looked to run shooters off the line, which has resulted in an opponent 3-point rate of just 21.7 percent — good for 12th in Division I. Draining triples is usually the best way to pull off a big upset, so preventing those shots from getting up in the first place is a great recipe for a deep tournament run. This probably isn’t the best bet on this list, but +600 is good enough to have some value.

NC State, +1500 at all three books (6.3% implied probability)

The last time NC State failed to make the Sweet 16, they lost in the second round to Texas and Ariel Atkins, who isn’t even on her WNBA rookie contract anymore. Yet, in the years since that 2017 loss, the Wolfpack have never reached the Elite Eight.

It’s about time. As good as those teams were, this is probably the best team Wes Moore has had in Raleigh. It took a Sarah Ashlee Barker miracle to hand the Wolfpack their only loss since they opened the season with a single-digit defeat at the hands of the team at the top of this list.

The Her Hoop Stats ratings and the Massey Ratings both have NC State in the top three, and after they pummeled previously-unbeaten rival North Carolina last week, it’s easy to see why. Nearly the entire rotation is shooting above 40 percent from 3, which makes this team almost impossible to guard when Elissa Cunane is on the floor commanding attention in the post.

At +1500 odds, the implied probability here is 1-in-16, which makes this an automatic value assuming NC State doesn’t miss the Sweet 16 for the first time in Cunane’s career. Once we hit the Sweet 16, all teams would have a 1-in-16 shot if they were equal, and it’s almost certain that NC State will be among the better teams in that group. This line should drop below +1000 at some point. To me, this is the best bet on the board, so grab it now before it’s too late.

Iowa State, +6600 at PointsBet (1.5% implied probability)

Rounding out PointsBet’s list of 18 teams are three teams tied for the longest odds: Iowa State, Kentucky and Tennessee at +6600. The Lady Vols have been the highest-ranked team among the three for most of the season, but the Cyclones are where I’m putting my money.

Ashley Joens and company were mere minutes from a Sweet 16 berth last season before Jordan Nixon happened, and just about the whole rotation from that team came back. Nobody has taken or made more 3s than Iowa State, and if current numbers hold, two of the nine teams in NCAA history to shoot over 81 percent from the free throw line will be 2020-21 Iowa State and 2021-22 Iowa State. That could come into play in March down the stretch of a tight tournament game.

The only blemish on the resume is a nine-point loss to LSU, and that looks a whole lot better now than it did at the time given how Kim Mulkey has her team playing. The Cyclones are in the top eight in the Her Hoop Stats ratings and the Massey ratings, and Charlie Creme’s latest bracketology has them as a No. 2 seed. If those spots hold, this 1.5 percent implied probability will look silly.

We’ll know a lot more about Iowa State after games next week against Texas and Baylor. As it stands, the Cyclones are looking like a serious contender to end Baylor’s reign atop the Big 12. Make sure you manage your bankroll responsibly and bet less on this than on a top team like South Carolina, but it’s definitely worth what those in the betting community would call “lunch money.”

Calvin Wetzel is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports, covering basketball and betting. He also contributes to Her Hoop Stats and Bet Her. Follow him on Twitter at @cwetzel31.

NWSL Honors UWSNT Great Lauren Holiday With Impact Award

Lauren Holiday at nwsl impact award event
USWNT legend Lauren Holiday has long been involved with social activism off the pitch. (NWSL)

The NWSL announced today that the annual civically focused Nationwide Community Impact Award would now be known as the Lauren Holiday Award in honor of the National Soccer Hall of Famer.

Since 2021, the award has recognized one NWSL player each season for their character and contributions to community service off the pitch, according to a league release. The winner of the newly retitled award receives $30,000 toward a charitable organization of their choice.

"The NWSL is proud to honor Lauren Holiday as the namesake of this award recognizing exemplary athletes and their commitment to service and activism," said NWSL commissioner Jessica Berman. "Lauren’s influential work in the community and her outstanding character both on and off the field epitomize the values we look to uphold and celebrate in the NWSL every day. 

"I can think of no one more deserving of this recognition than Lauren and look forward to seeing the continued positive impact this program has on our clubs and communities with her example guiding our efforts."

In a statement, Holiday said that throughout her career she has always "believed in the power of giving back and creating positive change." A two-time Olympic gold medalist, World Cup winner, and former NWSL MVP, Holiday founded the Jrue & Lauren Holiday Social Impact Fund alongside husband and fellow professional athlete JRue Holiday.

The fund contributes to programs that combat systemic racism and socioeconomic inequality. Holiday has also long been an advocate for legislation to help close the racial inequality gap in maternal health.

"This award is a testament to the important work that athletes are doing to strengthen and uplift their communities every day and I am deeply humbled to take on its namesake," Holiday said. "I hope it inspires others to continue their efforts in making a lasting impact on the lives of those around them."

Waylaid Seattle Rookie Nika Mühl Makes WNBA Debut

seattle storm's nika muhl guarding indiana fever's caitlin clark
Mühl spent her first few pro minutes repeating her college assignment: guarding Caitlin Clark.(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Seattle rookie Nika Mühl made her long awaited WNBA debut in last night’s 85-83 win over Indiana after missing the first four games of the season due to visa issues. 

A Croatian national, Mühl had been waiting on P-1 visa approval in order to work legally in the US. While the paperwork came through Friday, she had to travel to Canada in order to get her status changed.

The former UConn star poked fun at the delay ahead of the game, walking into Climate Pledge Arena wearing a t-shirt displaying her approved visa.

Mühl checked into the game on Monday in the third period to a standing ovation, immediately diving over the baseline to save a loose ball. She spent her first few minutes of the game the same way she completed her career at UConn: guarding Caitlin Clark

Mühl, who had two rebounds in two and a half minutes, held Clark to five points, a rebound, and a turnover when the two were matched up. 

"I threw her in the fire," Storm coach Noelle Quinn said with a smile after the game. "It’s tough to come into the game at that rate and think that you’re going to stop the player, but I like… her physicality, her poise, her confidence. She took an open shot and I thought that was a great look for her. We’ll continue to put her in the mix in practice, and she’ll have opportunities to show what she can do on the defensive end to start."

An instant fan favorite, the UConn star donned the No. 1 jersey — in part because her usual No. 10 was retired by Seattle after Sue Bird, who wore it for her entire WNBA career, retired last year. Mühl's new number was chosen by none other than Bird herself. 

"I actually FaceTimed Sue and asked her what number I should wear. She took a day to think about it and came back to me with an answer of No. 1," Muhl said in a WNBA video posted to social media. "When I asked her why No. 1, she basically said 'This is a new beginning, but you’re not starting from scratch.' I loved that whole analogy and story, so Sue actually picked it and I love it."

WNBA Confirms Toronto Expansion Team for 2026

Fans at a game between the Chicago Sky and the Minnesota Lynx in Toronto
Canadian fans asked and the WNBA delivered: Toronto's getting a team. (Jordan Jones/NBAE via Getty Images)

The WNBA is officially expanding to Toronto, with the league announcing its 14th franchise early Thursday. 

Kilmer Sports Ventures has been awarded the team, said WNBA commissioner Cathy Englebert at a press conference attended by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario Premier Doug Ford, and others. 

"Growing internationally, I’ve been trying to think through next steps on a global platform," Engelbert told the Associated Press ahead of the official announcement. "It helps us reach new audiences and bring in new partners. The thing I love about going to another country is that the young girls and boys get to see professional basketball for women is important, too."

The CBC was the first to report on the expansion franchise back on May 10th. 

With the Golden State Valkyries set to begin play next year, the Toronto franchise will begin play in 2026. The goal, per the WNBA, is to then add two more franchises by 2028 for a total of 16. 

Toronto will play at Coca-Cola Coliseum, which holds 8,700 seats. On occasion, the team will play games in Scotiabank Arena. The WNBA has previously hosted sold-out preseason games at Scotiabank Arena and Edmonton’s Rogers Place. There are also plans to play games in Vancouver and Montreal, according to majority owner Larry Tanenbaum. 

This will be the first WNBA franchise outside of the United States, and joins PWHL Toronto as just the second professional women’s sports team in the city.

"Our Toronto sports franchises are thriving but, we have been missing one critical piece — women’s professional sports," Tanenbaum told the AP. "The world is finally taking notice of something that’s been there all along — the immense talent, passion and competition in women’s sports. 

"I saw an opportunity and knew we were in the right place at the right time to bring Canada’s first WNBA team to Toronto. And now we have, making sports history."

Similar to Golden State, the Toronto franchise paid a $50 million expansion fee. They’ve also committed to building a dedicated practice facility, but will train at the University of Toronto’s Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport in the meantime. 

"Women’s sports is good business," Tanenbaum said. "Just look around — it’s not a moment, but a movement and it’s just the beginning."

Two-time Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas Re-Signs with Barcelona on Two-Year Deal

Alexia Putellas on the field for barcelona
The two-time Ballon d’Or winner has been with Barcelona for 12 years. (Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Alexia Putellas has re-signed with FC Barcelona on a new two-year deal that will run through 2026. The agreement includes an option for a one-year extension. 

The two-time Ballon d’Or winner has been with Barcelona for 12 years, and her previous contract was set to expire next month. However, she’s spent the better part of the last two seasons battling injuries, starting with an ACL tear that kept her out of the 2022 UEFA European Women's Football Championship and limited her participation in Spain’s FIFA Women's World Cup win last summer. 

Putellas returned in March from her latest injury setback, making 25 appearances across all competitions for Barcelona this season and scoring 10 goals. 

In total, the midfielder has made 400 appearances for Barcelona. Among her 20 major trophies with the club include eight Liga F titles and two UEFA Champions League titles — including helping the team to its first European trophy in 2021. 

She then won the Ballon d’Or in back-to-back seasons in 2021 and 2022. 

Putellas could add a third Champions League trophy next weekend, when Barcelona faces familiar foe Lyon, a team they’ve lost to in two previous Champions League finals. Should they secure the UWCL, they would win the quadruple for the first time, having already won Liga F, the Copa de la Reina, and the Spanish Supercopa. 

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