South Carolina-Iowa NCAA Basketball Championship Game Sets Another Women’s Betting Record

  • The stars, led by Iowa’s Caitlin Clark, shined bright in the tournament
  • FanDuel tripled its betting ticket numbers over its previous women’s record
  • Interest was fueled partially by more nationally televised games
  • Coach Dawn Staley has turned South Carolina into a dynasty
Scoreboard celebrating South Carolina women's college basketball championship in 2022
The South Carolina-Iowa NCAA women’s basketball national championship game set yet another record for betting on women’s college hoops. [Image:]

Star power

For the third time in a week, a game in the Women’s NCAA Basketball Tournament set a new record for betting on a women’s college basketball game. This time, it was Sunday’s championship game between South Carolina and Iowa which became the most-bet women’s college hoops game ever at many sportsbooks. According to ESPN, it was also the most-bet women’s sporting event, period, at BetMGM, DraftKings, and FanDuel.

It was the perfect storm of stakes plus star power, with Iowa’s Caitlin Clark representing the common denominator in each record-breaking game. First was last weekend’s Elite Eight matchup between Iowa and LSU, a rematch of the 2023 title game and again pitting Clark against LSU star Angel Reese. In Friday’s Final Four matchup that beat the Iowa-LSU betting record, it was arguably the two best players in the country in Clark and Connecticut’s Paige Bueckers. It helped, too, that UConn is the most decorated program in women’s basketball history.

Clark’s Iowa against undefeated South Carolina in a rematch of last year’s semifinal

The finals featured the matchup most fans wanted and trumped them all: Clark’s Iowa against undefeated South Carolina in a rematch of last year’s semifinal. And again, South Carolina, though completely revamped from last year, featured a star in Kamilla Cardoso plus the best coach in the game and legendary player in her own right, Dawn Staley.

Every day a record

ESPN BET and FanDuel attracted 20% and 22% more money, respectively, on the title game versus the short-lived record numbers from the Iowa-Connecticut game two days earlier. Caesars doubled its handle.

FanDuel told ESPN that before this season, its previous women’s college basketball betting record belonged to the 2023 championship game. Monday’s game represented a 155% increase in handle and a 205% in betting tickets over last year’s championship.

South Point casino sportsbook director Chris Andrews tweeted that the South Carolina-Iowa game had similar betting volume to either men’s Final Four game and compared very favorably to a “well-bet” college football game:

As mentioned, the driving force was Caitlin Clark, who broke just about any women’s college basketball record you can think of, including most points scored by anyone – woman or man – in NCAA history. DraftKings Director of Sportsbook and Race Operations Johnny Avello told ESPN that the women’s game also enjoyed increased exposure on television.

“We handled a limited amount of [women’s] games in the past,” he said. “There wasn’t a lot of interest because the games weren’t being shown. This year, you could have watched many games on national TV.”

South Carolina dynasty

While the attention all season and in the NCAA tournament has been on Caitlin Clark – and rightfully so – South Carolina is a dynasty. Yesterday was the program’s third national title and second in the last three years. And this season was arguably the least likely, even though they went undefeated, as the team lost all five of its starters from its Final Four team of a year ago.

By her sixth year, the dominance had begun.

The dynasty is headed by Dawn Staley, who was a two-time Naismith College Player of the Year at Virginia in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. South Carolina had not had any sort of sustained success in about two decades when Staley arrived in 2008. In her third year, the team had a winning record. By her sixth year, the dominance had begun.

In the past 11 seasons, South Carolina has won the SEC eight times and finished second three times. The team has made the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA tournament all ten years it was held; the year it was cancelled because of the COVID pandemic, Staley’s team was 32-1. In the past three seasons, they have lost just three games – last year’s only loss was to Caitlin Clark’s Iowa team in the Final Four.

Unsurprisingly, South Carolina has opened as championship favorites next season.

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