March Madness: More than one-third of bets for women’s champ on Caitlin Clark, Iowa

We don’t need any more evidence that Caitlin Clark is the key figure in March Madness.

Clark, the electric guard for Iowa, is the biggest star in college basketball. She recently passed Pete Maravich as the top scorer in NCAA Division I history. Very few players have taken over a sport like Clark has.

With all of the oxygen in the sport being taken up by Clark and the Hawkeyes, it shouldn’t be a surprise that extends to the betting world too. At least for casual bettors.


March Madness: More than one-third of bets for women's champ on Caitlin  Clark, Iowa

You’re not getting a consensus on many bets in the NCAA tournament, but Iowa is getting a startling percentage of the bets to win a title. At BetMGM, 37.8% of bets on the NCAA women’s champ are on Iowa. No other team is above 15%.

Everyone is swept up in a great story. Everyone except larger bettors.

South Carolina getting a lot of action too

There’s a story to be told in the betting pattern for the NCAA women’s champion. Iowa is getting well above one-third of all bets to win the title, but the bigger money is going elsewhere.

When it comes to handle at BetMGM — how much money is bet on a particular market — Iowa is not the leader. South Carolina is getting 37.4% of the money bet on the NCAA tournament winner. However, the Gamecocks account for just 15.8% of all tickets on the winner.


Iowa guard Caitlin Clark (22) celebrates after making a 3-point basket during the Big Ten tournament. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)
What does that mean? There are a lot of smaller tickets on Iowa, presumably from casual bettors. More serious bettors, who bet with their heads and not their hearts, are making larger bets on South Carolina.

South Carolina is the favorite to win it all, and a pretty heavy favorite. The Gamecocks are -120 to win it all. LSU and Iowa are tied for second at +600.

Given the difference in the odds and the number of bets on Iowa, BetMGM’s biggest liability is Clark and the Hawkeyes.

Iowa looking to make another deep run
Iowa has never won a national championship in women’s basketball. The Hawkeyes have also never had a player like Clark.

Before Clark, Iowa had one Final Four appearance and that came in 1993. Last year the Hawkeyes made another Final Four run and made the national title game, though they lost 102-85 to LSU. During that run, Iowa upset South Carolina in the national semifinal.

Casual bettors are hoping for another deep run like that for Iowa, but with a better ending.





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