Women’s NCAA Basketball Betting On The Rise With All Eyes On Caitlin Clark

Posted on March 27, 2024

Last season Iowa star Caitlin Clark’s incredible performances helped stir up a surge in betting on women’s basketball. This year, the trend continued as the senior guard’s dynamic play and eye-popping statistics galvanized fans who shattered attendance records at Iowa and during the sold-out Big Ten tournament.

As the projected No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft, it is a foregone conclusion that the Indiana Fever, who holds the top selection, will choose Clark.

Women’s sports betting keeps surging with Clark bringing in fans

Both Iowa and Indiana are among the top states for women’s March Madness betting action for DraftKings Sportsbook. This year, the American Gaming Association included women’s basketball in its projections for NCAA tournament bets and estimated that legal betting will reach $2.7 billion for the event.

Among the basketball elite, Clark is a draw. From LeBron James to Steph Curry, giving her a shoutout on social media is a common occurrence. According to a recent Seton Hall Sports Poll, she has four times the name recognition of any top men’s college basketball player. The poll also found that 48% of the general population planned on watching the women’s tournament.

“Caitlin Clark is carrying the March Madness brand this year,” said Daniel Ladik, a Seton Hall marketing professor and chief methodologist for the poll. “It’s likely that viewer numbers for the women’s tournament will surpass all previous records and her presence alone is a logo shot for the NCAA.”

The enamored mainstream media can’t stop writing about Clark

Every single major sports outlet and nationally-distributed newspaper has run at least one long-form think piece on Clark this season, in addition to numerous shorter stories. Many of those outlets have betting odds listed for women’s basketball scores as well.

ESPN has gone further, with not only multiple articles and videos, but they have also assigned Clark her own personal reporter for the tournament, veteran sideline journalist Holly Rowe. With ESPN Bet odds listed for every single women’s tournament game, women’s basketball talent like Elle Duncan promoting sports within the sportsbook app, and prominent links to the sportsbook across the network’s digital properties, it’s easy for bettors to make wagers while reading about Clark or watching ESPN highlight videos and commentary.

While sports media puts unprecedented resources into covering every move Clark makes, sponsors are also on board. Currently, she is fourth overall in NIL for college athletes and No. 1 for women’s basketball. Her NIL valuation is $3.1 million according to the On3 NIL database. She is in State Farm commercials and has several lucrative deals including partnerships with Nike, Gatorade, Topps, HyVee and H&R Block.

Why the buzz?

It would take several pages to list all of Clark’s accolades. She is the first player in NCAA Division I history to score 1,000 points in multiple seasons. Like previous seasons, she leads the nation in scoring at 31.9 points per game. She is also the leader in assists and fifth in double-doubles.

As the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year, she will most likely sweep every single POY award like she did last season after becoming the NCAA’s men’s and women’s all-time leading scorer, surpassing LSU legend, the late Pete Maravich. She is the only player in NCAA DI men’s or women’s basketball history to lead her conference in scoring and assists in four straight seasons.

Indiana fans, who are salivating at the prospect of seeing her play this summer for the Fever in Indianapolis, got to see her play twice in the Hoosier State this season. The WNBA draft, which sold out fan tickets in 15 minutes, is set for April 15 at 7 p.m. ET and will be televised on ESPN. In addition to the No. 1 draft pick, the Fever also have the third pick in the second round.

Clark carrying Iowa once again in NCAA tournament play

In the meantime, No. 1-seeded Iowa is making another deep run in the women’s NCAA tournament. Iowa defeated Holy Cross 91-65 in the first round and then beat No. 8 seed West Virginia to advance to the Sweet 16. If they can defeat No. 5 seed Colorado, the Hawkeyes go on to play the winner of last year’s champs LSU (No. 3 seed) and UCLA (No. 2 seed) in the Elite 8. It’s arguably the toughest road to Cleveland, the event city.

Last year’s contest between Iowa and LSU in the national championship had record-breaking viewership and spawned an entire cottage industry of memes and social media content.

Before the tournament started, Clark had one goal in her sights:

“We are here to win, get back to the Final Four,” Clark told media.

All Indiana online sportsbooks list odds for the women’s tournament and the WNBA.

Photo by AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
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Cheryl Coward

Cheryl Coward is a contributor for PlayIndiana with a background in sports journalism. She started her career as a news reporter in Washington, DC. She’s a die-hard women’s basketball fanatic and founded the website Hoopfeed.com as a result of that passion.

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