The past and future of women’s college basketball collide in the Final Four when the youthful promise of the Connecticut Huskies battles the defending national champs, the Stanford Cardinal, inside Target Center.
The No. 2 Huskies are the only non-top seed in the semifinals after a thrilling double-overtime victory against No. 1 North Carolina State in the Elite Eight, and bring a roster loaded with pro-bound potential. The Cardinal own the experience edge but have looked vulnerable during their path to the Final Four.
Check out our free March Madness picks and predictions for UConn vs. Stanford on April 1.
UConn vs Stanford odds
|+1 (-105)||Spread||-1 (-115)|
|Over 129 (-105)||Total||Under 129 (-115)|
Odds courtesy of DraftKings on March 30, 2022.
Stanford opened as low as -1 and is up to -1.5 at most books. The total for this Final Four game hit the board at 128.5 and has remained steady at that number.
UConn vs Stanford predictions
Predictions made on 3/31/2022 at 12:14 p.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.
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UConn vs Stanford game info
• Location: Target Center, Minneapolis, MN
• Date: Friday, April 1, 2022
• Tip-off: 9:30 p.m. ET
• TV: ESPN
UConn vs Stanford betting preview
UConn: Dorka Juhasz F (Out).
Stanford: No injuries to report.
UConn vs Stanford picks and predictions
Our side and total predictions are based upon our analysis of the line and total in this game. Our best bet is our favorite pick across all markets.
Was UConn’s wild win over NC State the next step for this program or did it reveal some issues for the Huskies heading into this Final Four game?
Sure, Connecticut stepped up and Paige Bueckers’ OT efforts cemented her status as the future of the sport, but the Huskies had that game won a couple of times and let it slip away. Bad fouls and missed defensive assignments at crucial spots allowed the Wolfpack to keep fighting back.
The margin for error is barely visible against Stanford. The Cardinal have not been perfect during their quest for the first non-Connecticut back-to-back women’s titles since Tennessee in 2007-2008, but they’re a tough matchup for the Huskies, especially with top reserve forward Dorka Juhasz suffering a wrist injury versus NC State.
That takes away depth in the frontcourt for the Huskies – perhaps their biggest advantage in this game – looking to forwards Aaliyah Edwards and Olivia Nelson-Ododa to not only play major minutes but stay in the game.
Both players got into foul trouble in the Elite Eight and their physical brand of basketball, most notably Edwards’ hard work on the blocks and rebounding, could be softened if the referees call this one tight.
The Cardinal have a fantastic option under the hoop on both ends of the floor in 6-foot-4 sophomore Cameron Brink, who’s averaging over 12 points and nine rebounds along with 17 total blocks in the Big Dance.
On the perimeter, Stanford’s defense could be tailormade for slowing down Bueckers. The Cardinal have a lockdown defender in Anna Wilson and can switch off high screens (which UConn loves to run), closing that space by throwing longer defenders like Haley Jones, the Hull sisters, and Hannah Jump (all over 6-foot) at UConn’s top gun.
With Bueckers subdued – or at least slowed – the weight falls on the rest of the Huskies to step up. Connecticut has great guards in Azzi Fudd and Christyn Williams but they’re going up against a bigger and stronger Stanford backcourt that is also deeper. Fudd and Williams will play the bulk of the 40 minutes while the Cardinal can roll out fresh legs without a drop off in production.
Prediction: Stanford -1 (-115 at DraftKings)
Neither team runs out a frenetic pace in this Final Four matchup, with Stanford ranking 200th in tempo and UConn at 232nd. These are two methodical halfcourt sets that make and take good looks, chewing up plenty of shot clock in the process. Connecticut sits No. 3 in effective field goal rate while the defending champs come in at No. 22 in that metric.
This total is sitting at 128.5 points – a number which is warranted considering the firepower on the floor – but despite 60% of bets and 87% of handle on the Over (according to BetMGM), this total hasn’t budged.
Stanford’s offense, while deep and capable, isn’t peaking at this moment with extended scoring droughts and careless turnovers stalling the Cardinal’s scoring output. They’re also not clicking from beyond the arc, firing up a dismal 9-for-38 count from 3-point range the past two games.
Defense has been the calling card for the defending champs, holding NCAA Tournament foes to 37, 50, 65, and 66 points. Stanford ranks No. 3 in the land in 2-point success rate, checking foes to only 36% shooting inside the arc thanks in “large” part to its length and impactful rim protectors in Brink and Fran Belibi.
That interior protection allows Stanford to play tighter defense on the perimeter and really jump the passing lanes. The Cardinal allow only 9.3 assists per game (sixth lowest) and limits foes to an assisted shot rate of 46.1% (12th lowest).
The Huskies are very much an offense that thrives on ball movement, generating 18.1 assists per contest (eighth highest) and sees assists on almost 62% of their field goal attempts.
Bueckers is the wild card, being able to generate her own shots in isolation when the shot clock ticks down, but the Cardinal have great on-the-ball defenders and their talent-rich rotation will always have rested players coming after Bueckers.
Prediction: Under 128.5 (-110 at FanDuel)
Stanford has been able to neutralize opponents’ top offensive threats in the tournament.
Save for giving up 25 points to Maryland superstar Angel Reese (who was held to 7 of 16 shooting but went 10-for-12 from the line), the Cardinal defense has honed in on star players.
They checked Montana State’s Darian White to only six points (2-for-10), Kansas’ Holly Kersgieter to seven points (2-for-4), and Texas’ leading scorer Aliyah Matharu (who hung 17 points on Stanford when the Longhorns upset the champs back in November) to zero points on 0-for-3 shooting in limited minutes.
That puts the target of Tara VanDerveer’s defense on Bueckers, who is playing in her home state of Minnesota this Friday.
The 5-foot-11 sophomore had her most iconic game since returning from an early-season knee injury in the double-overtime win over NC State, and UConn does not advance if Bueckers doesn’t break out in those extra frames. She’s the stick that stirs the drink for this Huskies offense, but Stanford has the personnel to slow her down.
Central Florida may have laid the blueprint for beating Bueckers and the Huskies in the Round of 32, imposing its physical brand of controlled basketball on UConn. The Golden Knights, who run the slowest pace in the NCAA, stuck that game in mud, leaving the Huskies to score only 52 points on 29% shooting from the field, including nine points on 4 of 9 shooting from Bueckers.
But where UCF lacked the offense to complement those defensive efforts, Stanford has a surplus of scoring talents.
Pick: Stanford -1 (-110 at DraftKings)
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