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Iowa-LSU women’s basketball matchup produces record betting handle

Caitlin Clark can add another record to her legend — most-bet women’s basketball game of all time.

Clark, who broke “Pistol Pete” Maravich’s all-time NCAA scoring mark this season, led Iowa to a 94-87 win over Louisiana State on Monday in the Elite Eight of the women’s NCAA Tournament.

The rematch of last year’s championship game shattered the record betting handle, or amount of money wagered, for a women’s game.

“We thought one of the Aces games would compare to it, or the women’s final last year, and the rematch beat it by about 20 percent,” Caesars Sportsbook vice president of trading Craig Mucklow said. “Women’s college basketball couldn’t have asked for a better schedule. It was like a schedule from the gods with all those superstars going against each other in back-to-back games.”

Clark put on a show against LSU with nine 3-pointers, 41 points and 12 assists to help the Hawkeyes cover as 2½-point favorites. Paige Bueckers then had 28 points and 10 rebounds to carry Connecticut to an 80-73 victory and cover as a 3½-point favorite over Southern California in Monday’s other Elite Eight contest.

That sets up a Final Four showdown Friday between 11-time NCAA champion Connecticut and Iowa, which is favored by 2½. Westgate SuperBook oddsmaker Ed Salmons expects the matchup to set another record handle.

“This Iowa team, they’re the public darling. Now they’re playing UConn. I expect that one to top this one,” Salmons said. “And if they play South Carolina in the final, that will probably top it all.”

The Iowa-Connecticut winner will likely face undefeated South Carolina (36-0) in Sunday’s championship game. The Gamecocks are 11½-point favorites over North Carolina State in the other national semifinal. The Hawkeyes ended South Carolina’s 42-game win streak in last year’s Final Four.

“South Carolina is such a big favorite in every game, I’m sure the public would line up to bet Iowa plus money in that game,” Salmons said.

BetMGM reported that both women’s games Monday drew more wagers and money than all six NBA games that day. It also said the Connecticut-USC game was in the top three most-bet women’s games ever.

“It was a special night for the game and for the sportsbook as we saw record handles in both pregame and live in-play action,” BetMGM trading manager Seamus Magee said.

The book took almost six figures on Iowa-LSU in Nevada alone.

“Which was phenomenal. That was 50 percent more than our highest NBA game,” MGM Resorts director of trading Lamarr Mitchell said.

Station Casinos and the SuperBook also reported record handles on the game. Salmons said they took a $10,000 wager on Iowa as well as a bevy of four-figure bets.

“It was the highest handle on a women’s game that I can remember,” Red Rock Resort sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said. “Our guests have really gravitated toward the women’s game and they play it pretty good.”

Mitchell also expects the Iowa-Connecticut game to set a new record handle.

“Especially with Caitlin being there,” Mitchell said. “Her games are just a magnet.”

Clark’s player props have drawn solid action this season. Her over-under totals for Friday’s game are 34½ points, 10½ assists and 7½ rebounds.

“She is, by far, the most popular college basketball player there is, way more than any guy this year. I don’t even think it’s close,” Salmons said. “She’s the most identifiable college basketball player.”

A Caesars bettor placed a six-figure wager on South Carolina at -120 to win its second national title in three years. But Iowa, the +290 second choice, is the book’s largest liability in the mid six figures.

“If you pull up our four men’s liabilities and four women’s liabilities, the Iowa women is our second-worst result,” Mucklow said. “The N.C. State men is the best result for the customers.”

The Wolfpack were 250-1 long shots entering the men’s NCAA Tournament. Iowa has been in single digits all year.

“People want to ride the Caitlin Clark bandwagon,” Mucklow said.

It’s two wins away from reaching its destination.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on X.

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