Apr 7, 2024; Cleveland, OH, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes guard Caitlin Clark (22) controls the ball against South Carolina Gamecocks guard Raven Johnson (25) in the first quarter in the finals of the Final Four of the womens 2024 NCAA Tournament at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports women's college basketball Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

At the start of the women’s NCAA Tournament, finding betting lines for most matchups was difficult.

But by the end of the March Madness run, the women’s game was breaking more than just ratings records.

According to ESPN’s Doug Greenberg, South Carolina’s victory over Iowa in the national championship was the most-bet women’s basketball game ever at several major sportsbooks, including ESPN BET, Caesars, BetMGM, DraftKings and FanDuel. BetMGM, DraftKings and FanDuel each confirmed that the high-profile matchup between the Gamecocks and the Hawkeyes was its most-bet women’s sporting event of all time.

Sunday’s game broke records set by Iowa’s previous NCAA Tournament games, including the Hawkeyes’ victory over UConn in the Final Four two nights prior. DraftKings director of sportsbook and race operations Johnny Avello told ESPN that Iowa’s victory over Nebraska in the Big Ten Tournament championship game set its initial record, with each ensuing Hawkeyes NCAA Tournament game passing it, climaxing with Sunday’s showdown against the undefeated Gamecocks.

Much like the tournament’s record TV ratings, all signs point to Iowa superstar Caitlin Clark being the primary — albeit not only — driver of such interest.

“We handled a limited amount of [women’s] games in the past. There wasn’t a lot of interest because the games weren’t being shown,” Avello said. “This year, you could have watched many games on national TV. And there were great players this year, Caitlin Clark being probably the No. 1 focus. But there were more players besides her.”

“The betting handle just follows wherever [Clark] goes,” Caesars College basketball trader Grant Tucker told ESPN prior to the Final Four.

As for how the bettors and the books fared, it’s worth noting that South Carolina covered the 6.5-point spread while the over of 160.5 points hit by 1.5 points. Meanwhile, for those looking ahead to next year, the Gamecocks open as a +150 favorite to defend their national title, according to BetOnline.


About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.