Mar 10, 2024; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes guard Caitlin Clark (22) looks on during the second half against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Women’s college basketball is more popular than ever. So is legalized sports betting.

But anybody looking to parlay the two for the 2024 NCAA Tournament has likely run into trouble doing so.

At least in comparison to the men’s game, which seemingly had first-round betting lines available on every major sportsbook by the time Sunday’s selection show had concluded. Conversely, betting lines for the women’s tournament have remained sparse. As of Tuesday afternoon, DraftKings, BetMGM, ESPN Bet and Betway appear to be the only major sportsbooks with a full set of first-round lines for the women’s tournament available (at least as displayed in Ohio). Meanwhile, FanDuel is only currently offering lines for four games, while Fanatics, Bet365, Caesar’s and Hard Rock have yet to post any lines for individual women’s games. DraftKings appears to have set first round game lines in place first in the late afternoon hours on Monday.

Even most of the books that do currently have odds currently posted didn’t do so until Monday afternoon or later — a stark contrast from the instantaneous nature in which the men’s betting lines are posted. All this, despite customers clearly having an appetite to bet on the women’s tournament, with DraftKings Chief Business Officer Marie Donoghue stating earlier this month that betting on women’s college basketball has been 13 times more popular this season than it was a year ago.

So what gives?

According to a former high ranking sportsbook executive, the best explanation stems from the differences in media coverage between the men’s and women’s games.

While there has clearly been a drastic increase in coverage of women’s college basketball in the last year alone, it’s still relatively novice in comparison to the men’s game. Many bettors who wager on the men’s game consult with advanced analytics sites like, and the betting lines often reflect such information. And while some advanced analytics sites for the women’s game — like — do exist, they have yet to become as mainstream as their male counterparts.

Factor in that the NCAA Tournament features so many mid-major (and low-major) programs, and the sportsbooks simply don’t seem to have enough information to set lines they’re comfortable with. As the cliché goes, the house always wins. And the increased popularity of the women’s game seemingly affords the public the rare opportunity to have an edge when placing a bet.

That’s not to say that the books will ignore the women’s game completely. After all, most books seem to be getting around to posting lines for the first-round games — even if they’re doing so a day or two later than they did for the men’s game.  Knowing what we know about why, it also wouldn’t be a surprise to see such odds be posted with a greater frequency as the tournament progresses (so long as it’s the more popular teams advancing).

But even with odds beginning to trickle out for individual NCAA Women’s Tournament games, there are nowhere near the plethora of options that exist on the men’s side where someone can easily bet props on the winning conference, winning seed number, and even whether or not there will be a buzzer beater. DraftKings currently has all such bets available for the men’s tournament. 

Considering how ahead sportsbooks often seem to be of the public, it’s interesting to see what appears to be a clear case of the inverse. Moving forward, it will be interesting to see how the relationship between women’s college basketball and sports betting continues to evolve, especially with both industries on apparent upward trajectories.

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.