Chicago’s WNBA team has built a successful 2019 campaign off defying the odds. Its rookie head coach won 20 games, and that kind of surprising success needs to continue if the Sky’s playoff odds are to be similarly defied.
Chicago gets the benefit of at least one home game in the playoffs. Because of that and their strong backcourt, the Sky have a shot to become a dark horse title contender.
How the playoff schedule affects the Sky’s playoff odds
Chicago finished 20-14 this season, good for the league’s fifth seed. In the playoff format that has been in place since 2016, that entitles the Sky to a couple of benefits.
Chicago will host the last team into the WNBA postseason and hope for more home games from there, as each round is re-seeded in the WNBA playoffs. The Sky’s first-round opponent is the Phoenix Mercury.
Chicago swept Phoenix in three games this season. The Sky also went 12-5 in home games, making them the favorite to advance to the second round in the single-elimination contest. Chicago’s playoff quest begins Wednesday, Sept. 11, at 8 p.m. ET.
Just as both first-round games are single-elimination, so will the Sky’s second-round contest be a do-or-die affair if they advance to it. Chicago will travel to face the Las Vegas Aces if they defeat the Mercury.
Because the Sky are starting their postseason run at home and have one of the deepest and most productive backcourts in the league this year, their odds aren’t the longest, but they are far from the favorites, as well.
Building the case for the Sky to win their first title
Although Chicago swept Phoenix, the story changes when considering future series. Las Vegas won two of the three meetings between the teams.
Chicago did win two of three against the Connecticut Sun this year, however. The Sky could face Connecticut in the league semifinals depending on which other team qualifies.
The Washington Mystics defeated Chicago in three of four meetings this season. That’s the more likely opponent if the Sky advance to the semis.
Chicago went a respectable 8-9 on the road this season, which could help mitigate the fact that either Connecticut or Washington would have home-court advantage in a best-of-five series with the Sky.
With those things in mind, and the fact that Chicago has players like WNBA single-season assist record-holder Courtney Vandersloot in its backcourt, Vegas oddsmakers and one sportsbook available elsewhere have set their odds. That presents some opportunities for Illinoisans.
The Sky’s championship odds across the country
While Illinois sports betting is legal, residents of and visitors to the Land of Lincoln are still waiting for sportsbooks to open in the state. In the meantime, Illinoisans have options like neighboring Indiana and Iowa.
Vegas is one of the places offering action on the WNBA playoffs. Another is a prominent sportsbook that has two locations in the Hoosier State.
The Sky are 30/1 to win the 2019 WNBA title in Vegas. Phoenix, the Minnesota Lynx and the Seattle Storm all have longer odds at either 50/1 or 60/1.
On FanDuel Sportsbook, which could eventually be available once legal sports betting begins in Illinois, Chicago is +5500 to win a championship this year. Only Seattle is a longer shot to claim a championship at that book.
At +5500, Chicago could make it a bleak day for FanDuel’s books if the Sky win their first title. For anyone brave enough to put down their money, it would show they believed the Sky was the limit for Chicago.