Caitlin Clark, Iowa-USC Championship Set All-Time Betting Records

Grant Mitchell
Grant Mitchell
Basketball news


  • The Gamecocks beat the Hawkeyes to finish a perfect 38-0
  • FanDuel reported a 205 percent increase in total bets compared to last year’s national championship
  • Clark hasn’t even been drafted and is already shaking up the WNBA

BetMGM, DraftKings, and FanDuel confirmed an ESPN report that the women’s March Madness championship between South Carolina and Iowa was the most-bet women’s sports event ever.

“This year’s women’s March Madness tournament delivered on its hype and truly showed the power of the women’s game,” Karol Corcoran, senior vice president and general manager of FanDuel, said to Sportico in a statement.

Records fell in the number of tickets and total betting handle, with BetMGM reporting all-time highs in the Elite Eight and Final Four during the build-up to the title-deciding match to boot.

Records were meant to fall 

The spotlight was on women’s college basketball more than ever during the regular season thanks to the excitement provided by Iowa’s Caitlin Clark, along with other stars such as UConn’s Paige Bueckers and Southern California’s JuJu Watkins, among others. But Clark, above all, was able to transcend her usual audience and put a much brighter spotlight on the sport.

All of that momentum enabled the tournament to capitalize on the hype and anticipation that had built over the past year and change in what could prove to be one of the most transformative years for women’s hoops. 

FanDuel reported a 155 percent increase in the total betting handle and a 205 percent increase in ticket count compared to the 2023 national championship between Iowa and LSU, which was one of the biggest events in the sport’s history at the time. 

BetMGM revealed that the national title game also produced a 34 percent increase in tickets compared to the Iowa-UConn matchup in the Final Four while also doubling the previous record for total handle.

“[The] Game was on the main screen with audio at Red Rock if that puts it into perspective,” Red Rock Las Vegas race and sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said in a text message. “Unbelievable interest from the viewing and betting public.”

Red Rock wasn’t the only place with the game front and center—according to numbers released by ESPN, the game topped out at 24 million viewers, an all-time high for women’s hoops and the most-watched basketball game since 2019.

“With a record-setting audience of 18.7 million [average] viewers, Sunday’s Iowa-South Carolina title game was a fitting finale to the most-viewed ever NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament,” ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro said. “These exceptional athletes, coaches and teams captured our attention in unprecedented ways and it’s incumbent on all of us to keep the incredible momentum going.”

Already making a dent 

As the chapter closes on the 2023-24 NCAA season, all eyes are fixed on Clark’s next destination: the WNBA.

The projected number-one overall pick is expected to be selected by the Indiana Fever in next week’s draft, teaming her up with reigning Rookie of the Year and 2023 number-one pick Aliyah Boston.

However, Clark finds herself in a position unlike any other rookie not just in women’s hoops, but men’s as well. 

Ice Cube offered the Iowa native $5 million to sign a deal with the Big3, his three-on-three basketball league—the catch is that the WNBA prohibits its players from competing in other leagues at the same time it is in season, and the WNBA and Big3 schedules overlap.

Although she’s only due to make $76,000 annually on her rookie contract, her impact on the WNBA is expected to be groundbreaking. The Las Vegas Aces already rented a new stadium for their game against the Fever to accommodate more game-attending fans, while the Phoenix Mercury are marketing their showdown with Indy as the Goat (a reference to Diana Taurasi) vs. the Rook (Clark). 

All of the hype is expected to drive interest in women’s basketball at the professional level the same way it did during the NCAA Tournament, which was valued at $65 million in the new media rights deal starting in September, per the AP. It is also expected to become more prominent at legal betting sites.

Notably, the WNBA is up for a new media rights deal in 2025. WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said she hopes to get “at least double” what the league did for its last deal.