NCAA Women’s Final Four Gets Its Share of Wagers, TV Viewers

Posted on: April 1, 2022, 08:37h. 

Last updated on: April 1, 2022, 12:31h.

Bettors and fans are looking forward to tonight’s NCAA women’s Final Four basketball matchups. South Carolina plays Louisville. Connecticut plays Stanford.

UConn's Paige Bueckers
UConn women’s basketball standout Paige Bueckers, pictured above. She celebrates during the UConn-North Carolina State elite eight NCAA tournament game. UConn won and is appearing in the Final Four tonight. (Image: Sports Illustrated)

The winning teams will then play for the championship on Sunday. Games will take place at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minn.

So far, interest in the NCAA tournament continues to be relatively high. The men’s games have seen more wagers and higher TV viewership than the women’s games. The Duke-North Carolina men’s game is particularly popular.

But Jay Kornegay, vice president of race & sportsbook operations at The SuperBook at the Westgate Las Vegas, recently told NY Sports Day, “It’s really unfair to compare the two” — the men’s and women’s tournaments.

“The men’s tournament is one of the more popular events each and every year,” Kornegay explained. “I would estimate the women’s handle represents approximately 1.5-2% of the men’s tournament.”

Interest in Women’s Sports Growing

The growth in women’s collegiate sports was spurred on by Title IX, a federal civil rights law enacted in the 1970s. It greatly impacted university athletics.

Generally, I think interest in women’s sports is growing, as it is more established, and has been [for] more years, since Title IX,” Ed Desser, president of Desser Media, told “I expect the same to be true of interest in gambling as well.”

But for one of the games, the rivalry speaks for itself. Tonight’s UConn-Stanford matchup represents the 14th consecutive Final Four appearance for UConn. Meanwhile, Stanford is the defending national champion.

Among the standouts for the UConn team is Paige Bueckers, who captured statewide and national attention when she was playing for Minnesota’s Hopkins High School. Local interest reportedly is high with Bueckers’ presence at the Target Center in Minneapolis.

BetMGM on Wednesday had the spread at Louisville +7.5, South Carolina -7.5. DraftKings had South Carolina favored slightly more at 8 points and the over/under at 119.5.

In the UConn-Stanford matchup, the Huskies are favored by 1.5 points over the Cardinals, BetMGM said. DraftKings put Stanford slightly shorter at just a point and the over/under at 129.

TV Viewership

The Connecticut vs. North Carolina State Elite Eight women’s game on Monday averaged 2.04 million viewers, according to Sports Media Watch, an online site. UConn won by a narrow 91-87 score in double overtime.

That made the ESPN broadcast the biggest audience for any women’s NCAA tournament game in 16 years, not counting the Final Four. It also was the fifth-largest audience ever to watch the women’s tournament on ESPN, not including the Final Four, Sports Media Watch added.

In addition, as of March 24, Just Women’s Sports, another online site, reported viewership for the first two rounds of the women’s NCAA tournament jumped 15% from last year.

For the men’s tournament games, about 45 million American adults plan to wager $3.1 billion this year, according to an American Gaming Association’s (AGA) survey. Nearly 21 million will bet outside of brackets, via online, at brick-and-mortar casinos, with local bookies, or among friends. Some “36.5 million Americans will wager via a bracket contest or similar pool,” the survey revealed.