WNCAAB predictions & picks: Best bets for LSU vs Iowa
Mike Ortiz Jr. makes his 2023 NCAAW National Championship game picks and predictions, with two best bets.
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2023 NCAA Women’s Basketball National Championship Game – March Madness Best Bets: Odds, Picks and Predictions LSU vs Iowa Odds, Spread, Moneyline, Over/Under - WNCAAB Betting Lines 4/2 Moneyline: LSU (+110), Iowa (-154)
Spread: LSU +3.5, Iowa -3.5
Total: Over/Under 160.5 points
LSU vs Iowa Preview The stage is set for the LSU Tigers and Iowa Hawkeyes to take the floor Sunday and determine this year’s national champion. Iowa, led by Caitlin Clark, has made a phenomenal run through the tournament, as Clark’s back-to-back 40-plus-point performances have made the Hawkeyes tough to stop. Meanwhile, LSU has reached the final on the strength of overall team play, defense, and Angel Reese’s dominating post presence.
Why Iowa can win:
Iowa’s Clark is a one-of-a-kind player who can light up a defense for 40 points and register -– or come very close to -- a triple-double in the process. While their offense does start and run through her, the Hawkeyes are loaded with scoring ability. Iowa has four players who play key minutes and shoot 37 percent or higher from 3-point range. Monika Czinano, who controls the post for Iowa, has found herself in foul trouble over the past few games and will need to be on the court as much as possible against LSU’s Reese on Sunday.
If Iowa wants to win the national championship, it will have to find ways to get Clark going early and help free her up for good, uncontested shots. That might seem crazy to say about a player coming off two games with at least 40 points, but she is the absolute key for her team -- involved in 75 percent of Iowa’s scoring plays.
Any concern for getting Clark open has a lot to do with how great LSU is defensively. The Tigers’ Flau’jae Johnson is no joke when it comes to defense, because she has gone toe-to-toe with some of the nation’s best scorers and shut them down.
In addition to Clark having to score at her usual pace, Iowa needs shooters Gabbie Marshall, McKenna Warnock, and Katie Martin to contribute from 3-point range, which will help open up the game. If those three players are hot from behind the arc, it will be a long afternoon for LSU, whose defense won’t know where to focus.
Why LSU can win:
This LSU team can beat opponents in several ways. While they hang their hat on their defense –- giving opposing offenses nightmares -- the Tigers’ forceful presence of forward Angel Reese down low is scary. Reese, who averages 23.6 points and 15.6 rebounds per game, is without question the best big in women’s college basketball and is arguably one of the nation’s best overall players.
As is the case with Iowa, LSU’s offense doesn’t stop at just one player, because the Tigers’ Alexis Morris can flat-out score. She played a key role in LSU’s second-half comeback against No. 1 Virginia Tech on Friday and finished with a game-high 27 points.
If LSU wants to win on Sunday, the Tigers will first have to limit the amount of threes that Iowa makes. Iowa has shot 40 percent or better from 3-point range in every game at this year’s tournament other than its win over South Carolina. Against Louisville in the Elite Eight, the Hawkeyes made 16 threes, including eight from Clark.
In addition to containing Iowa’s outside shooters, the Tigers must also handle Clark, the best scorer in the nation. Containing Clark for just a few possessions is hard enough, but if any team can do it over an entire game, it’s LSU. Virginia Tech’s Georgia Amoore learned about LSU’s defense the hard way on Friday night, when her 23.5 field-goal percentage was her third-lowest of the season. A lot of that credit goes to Johnson, one of the best defenders in college basketball. Johnson vs. Clark is a matchup I can’t wait to watch on Sunday.
LSU vs Iowa Predictions and Picks
The Iowa Hawkeyes are coming off of what I’m sure feels like a championship game in dealing the South Carolina Gamecocks their first loss of the season and first loss since Dec. 30, 2021. However, they will have to come back down to Earth quickly, because this LSU Tigers team is hungry and ready to bring the national championship banner to Baton Rouge.
Having seen Iowa take down South Carolina on Friday night, the entire women’s college basketball world will be watching the Hawkeyes come Sunday. Nevertheless, defense wins championships. LSU will instill that defensive presence on Sunday to frustrate Iowa, Johnson will contain Clark and cause problems for her all day. Iowa’s Czinano will get into foul trouble again in the final since there’s no containing Reese defensively. Reese will have a 20-20 game, and the Bayou Barbie will get her crown.
The Pick: LSU ML (+110)
The over/under for this game is much higher than I expected. Opening at 161.5 on most books, that number had already come down to 160.5 within 12 hours of its release. Yes, Iowa can score and, yes, Angel Reese is a mismatch defensively for Iowa, but I still don’t see this game reaching 150 points (outside of overtime). This will be a more defensive-minded and slower-paced game than Iowa is used to. Take the under here.
The Pick: Under 160.5 (-120)