The UConn-South Carolina women’s basketball game Monday night has potential to be one of the most watched regular season women’s games… ever.
The matchup will feature the No. 1 Huskies, who are by far the biggest attraction in the sport, against a highly ranked opponent (the Gamecocks are No. 6 in the country), with serious history on the line. Assuming UConn beats SMU on Saturday, the Huskies will have a chance Monday to win their 100th consecutive game.
And the UConn-South Carolina showdown will have the full marketing heft of ESPN behind it. The network will air the game (9 p.m. ET) as part of its Big Monday coverage, with a cascade of special programming.
ESPN will have a reporter on the ground in Storrs, Connecticut all day, another reporter visiting local elementary schools celebrating their 100th days, plus a Rebecca Lobo spot on ESPN Radio several hours before the game, a studio crew at Gampel Pavilion, a sit-down interview with UConn coach Geno Auriemma and a live hit on SportsCenter after the contest ends.
Additionally, ESPNU and ESPN Classic will be fully devoted to UConn women’s content all afternoon and evening leading up to the 9 p.m. tip-off.
Dave O’Brien, Doris Burke and Kara Lawson will call the game for ESPN.
It’s great to see ESPN devoting itself so fully to coverage of a women’s game because women’s sports in America are perpetually under-covered, but it also just makes sense for the network. We know there’s an audience out there for women’s basketball, and since ESPN airs the women’s NCAA Tournament, it’s wise of them to drum up all the excitement they can for the Huskies and for the sport.
Plus, this could be a legitimately thrilling game. UConn is undefeated this season, but the Huskies aren’t quite as dominant as they have been the last couple years, and the Gamecocks are no joke. South Carolina is 20-2 in 2016-17, including 4-0 against top-15 teams.
If the Huskies dominate the Gamecocks and win their 100th straight, that’s history. If South Carolina shocks UConn and ends the streak, that’s drama and intrigue. It’s really a win-win for ESPN, and the network is taking advantage.