UConn vs South Carolina: March Madness Betting Preview
UConn Looks to Improve to 12-0 in National Championship Games
Breaking Down Women’s Division I Title Game
When the NCAA women’s Division I tournament got underway, South Carolina was the clear favorite while Connecticut, despite being a No. 2 seed, was right there as the team most likely to be the last obstacle between the Gamecocks and the program’s second national title.
Well, 66 teams have been eliminated and Sunday night it will be South Carolina vs UConn playing in the 2022 NCAA women’s final.
The game features the last two consensus national players of the year. UConn’s Paige Bueckers won in 2021 and South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston is this year’s player of the year. It is the first time opposing teams in the title game each have the national player of the year on its roster.
South Carolina is the favorite to win the title, although UConn is 11-0 in national championship games. The school’s first title also came in Minneapolis. The game is set for Sunday at 8 p.m. ET and will air on ESPN.
Keep on reading for more on this much-anticipated showdown, including information to help make UConn vs. South Carolina betting predictions.
UConn vs South Carolina Game Information
Team records: UConn 30-5; South Carolina 34-2
Coaches: UConn – Geno Auriemma, 37th season; South Carolina – Dawn Staley 22nd season (14th at South Carolina)
Seeds: UConn No. 2 seed in Bridgeport Region; South Carolina No. 1 seed in Greensboro Region
NCAA bid: UConn received an automatic bid by winning Big East Tournament; South Carolina received an at-large bid.
NCAA women’s finals appearances: UConn won the championship in 1995, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. South Carolina won its only previous trip to the title game in 2017.
When UConn is on Offense
The ball will be in the hands of sophomore Paige Bueckers, who swept the national player of the year awards as a freshman. She missed 19 games this season and it took awhile for her to shake the rust off, but she has made key plays late in tough wins against North Carolina State in the Elite Eight and Stanford in the national semifinals.
Freshman Azzi Fudd also missed some time during the season, but she is showing why she was the No. 1-rated recruit in the country. Fudd has delivered in the clutch throughout the postseason. She was 4-for-4 from the foul line in the final 40 seconds against Stanford. Senior Christyn Williams had some key shots in the second overtime of the regional final while Evina Westbrook made three 3-pointers in the Stanford win.
The post depth took a hit with the loss of 6-foot-5 reserve Dorka Juhasz. That puts even more pressure on the duo of Olivia Nelson-Ododa and sophomore Aaliyah Edwards. Edwards has a troubling tendency of picking up offensive fouls early in the game and that would be a problem if it happens on Sunday night.
UConn only used eight players in the semifinal game with Big East Defensive Player of the Year Nika Muhl and freshman Caroline Ducharme part of the rotation along with Westbrook off the bench.
When South Carolina is on Offense
There’s a reason why junior Aliyah Boston swept the national player of the year awards.
Boston has averaged 23.3 points on 71 percent shooting to go with 15.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game over the last three games with one game with 20 points and 20 rebounds and nearly a second 20-20 game. She had 22 points and 15 rebounds in the regular-season meeting against UConn.
In the losses to Missouri and Kentucky, Boston’s supporting cast simply didn’t do enough.
All five starters scored in double figures in the semifinal win over Louisville, and when that happens, the Gamecocks look unbeatable. Destanni Henderson and Zia Cooke combined to make five 3-pointers against Louisville as they took advantage of all the attention being paid to Boston. If they are making outside shots, there may not be a way to prevent the Gamecocks from cutting down the nets in the 2022 NCAA women’s final.
South Carolina did give up 13 offensive rebounds and turned the ball over 15 times.
Three Keys to UConn vs South Carolina
1. Minimize Boston’s impact: UConn is not going to stop Boston, but if the Huskies allow her to make a run at a 20-20 game, it could be light’s out for the Huskies. UConn rebounded well against Stanford but this is an entirely different challenge in the 2022 NCAA women’s final.
2. Threes are wild: This could come down to which team is more consistent from the perimeter. UConn relies more on its guard play than South Carolina, but the Gamecocks have shown the ability to make clutch shots from the perimeter. UConn will need its guards to shoot better than they did against Stanford if the Huskies are going to stay in this game.
3. Whistles are not a good thing: Neither UConn nor South Carolina is going to use a nine- or 10-player rotation. UConn had a couple of players miss a large portion of the first half due to foul trouble and Stanford couldn’t capitalize. If that happens again, South Carolina will make UConn pay the price. On the other end, if Boston gets called for some early fouls, that could change the complexion of this game.
UConn has won nine of the 11 meetings with South Carolina, although the Gamecocks won the most recent matchup 73-57 at the 2021 Battle 4 Atlantis on Nov. 21 as Boston had 22 points and 15 rebounds to lead three Gamecocks in double figures. Bueckers had 19 points, five rebounds and seven assists for UConn.
The teams first met in 2007, with the Huskies winning the first eight showdowns, including a 95-64 win in the 2018 NCAA Tournament. South Carolina’s first win in the series came at home on February 10, 2020, by a score of 70-52.
Betting Numbers to Know
South Carolina is favored in the championship game for the second time and is listed as a four-point favorite according to the NCAA basketball odds.
South Carolina is 13-0 against teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 poll while UConn is 7-2, so advantage Gamecocks when it comes to the strength of schedule.
UConn is 3-2 in games decided by five points or less while South Carolina is 1-2 in those contests.