Caitlin Clark’s Record-Breaking Night is a Big Night for Women’ Sports

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Now, that is how you set a record.

Iowa women’s basketball player Caitlin Clark went into Thursday night’s game with Michigan needing eight points to become the all-time leading scorer in Division I women’s basketball. She took just 2:12 to get there.

She would go on to score 41 more points, setting an Iowa single-game record with 49 points – the 12th 40-point game of her career.

Now that she has eclipsed the women’s record, previously held by current Las Vegas Aces star Kelsey Plum, she has her sights set on the all-time Division I scoring record held by Pete Maravich. Pistol Pete scored 3,667 points during his college career at LSU, and Clark is now just 99 points away from beating him.

Clark is the only woman in Division I history with 3,000 career points and 1,000 career assists, and she currently leads the country in points and assists per game. At her current points per game average of 32.1, Clark is likely to catch Maravich when Iowa hosts Ohio State on March 3.

Iowa online sportsbooks have the Hawkeyes as the second betting favorite to win the Women’s NCAA Basketball Tournament, paying +850. 

Last year, Clark won the women’s Wooden Award as the nation’s best basketball player. Basketball online sportsbooks have her as the huge betting favorite to do it again this year, paying -250. Freshman Juju Watkins of USC is second at +650.

Women the Fastest Growing Sports TV Audience

Clark plays before sold out crowds wherever she goes, and the television audience that attraction is commanding is the best women’s college basketball has seen in more than a decade. On January 21st, when the Hawkeyes played against Ohio State, NBC had an average audience of 1.93 million viewers. That was the largest regular season women’s college basketball audience on any network since 2010.

Thursday night’s record-breaking game was shown on Peacock, and it came with an alternate “Caitlin” feed. No matter where she was on the court, and where the ball was, the camera was focused on her. The network resisted moving the game to NBC because this game was long-planned to be on the streaming network – one of seven Iowa games that Peacock is showing this season.

The extra interest in this game and Caitlin Clark in general follows up on the demographic breakdown of the recent record-breaking television audience for the Super Bowl. The 123.7 million viewers represented a 7.4% increase over the Super Bowl a year ago. But the jump in women viewers, aged 18-24, was 24%. Girls aged 12-17 increased by 11%.

Overall, 58.8 million women watched the Super Bowl, which was 47.5% of the total audience.

Women Getting High-Profile December Tournament

For years, the big non-conference basketball tournaments in December have belonged to the men. The Maui Invitational, Battle 4 Atlantis, Hall of Fame Classic, and the Champions Classic are among them, just to name a few. The Champions Classic was hosted in Chicago this past year, and featured Kentucky, Kansas, Duke, and Michigan State.

Next year, we’re getting a Women’s Champions Classic, with just as much history as the men. The four teams that will play at Barclays Center in Brooklyn next December will be UConn, Louisville, Tennessee, and Iowa. Clark does have another year of eligibility after this one, and it’s possible she will be featured in this tournament.

The four men’s teams featured in the Champions Classic have a total of 19 national championships between them. The four women’s teams competing in the new Champions Classic also have a total of 19.

Fox Sports will show the Saturday doubleheader of the Women’s Champions Classic on their main broadcast network in prime time on December 7.

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