Caitlin Clark, Iowa vs LSU March Madness matchup draws record ratings


Monday’s Iowa-LSU Elite Eight matchup was the most-watched women’s college basketball game on record.

The game had 12.3 million viewers, surpassing the 9.9 million from last year’s championship game featuring the same two teams.

It also was ESPN’s most viewed college game ever, men’s or women’s.

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Caitlin Clark #22 of the Iowa Hawkeyes shoots the ball over Angel Reese #10 of the LSU Tigers during the first half in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament at MVP Arena on April 01, 2024 in Albany, New York.  (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

That number beats all but one of the men’s March Madness tournament, all but one NBA Finals game, and all World Series games. Viewership peaked at 16 million.

Monday’s rematch was a thriller from start to finish, which was expected with the two powerhouses. But many tuned in for the storylines.

LSU’s Angel Reese famously taunted Caitlin Clark of Iowa in the final minutes of last year’s championship game with the “You Can’t See Me” celebration and pointed to her ring finger, signifying she was about to win a championship ring.

Reese received criticism, which Clark, boisterous herself, said she didn’t deserve “at all.” But the drama was there, and a record number of people tuned in.

Angel Reese taunts Caitlin Clark

FILE – LSU’s Angel Reese reacts in front of Iowa’s Caitlin Clark during the second half of the NCAA Women’s Final Four championship basketball game April 2, 2023, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)

HALL OF FAMER PAUL PIERCE ‘DIDN’T EXPECT’ CAITLIN CLARK TO DOMINATE ‘BLACK GIRLS’ FROM LSU

With the game tied at 45 at the half, Iowa went on an 8-0 run to start the third quarter as LSU struggled to knock down shots. By the end of it, Clark had drained four of her nine threes in the quarter, and Iowa owned an 11-point lead, 69-58, entering the fourth. The Tigers shot 5 of 26 in the third quarter as a team, and the Hawkeyes never looked back despite LSU’s valiant efforts for a comeback.

Clark finished with 41 points, good for her fifth 40-point game of the season. Her nine threes also tied a season-high she had racked up twice before in the year.

Clark was 13-for-29 from the field. LSU guard Hailey Van Lith had some serious contests on those shots, especially the deep three-pointers Clark is known to dazzle with, but all she could do was shrug when she watched them go in, which of course became an internet meme.

But Clark wasn’t just launching shots in this game. She got teammates involved with 12 assists on her way to breaking the NCAA Tournament career record, which was at 137. 

Reese got off to a very hot start for LSU, going 6-for-8 from the field, but she ended up hurting her ankle on a block attempt that saw her hopping over to the bench in the second quarter. After eventually coming back in the game, Reese went ice cold as Iowa sent multiple defenders her way. She went 1-for-13 from the field to finish 7-for-21 with 17 points along with a game-high 20 rebounds.

Flau’Jae Johnson led LSU with 23 points.

Caitlin Clark after win

Caitlin Clark #22 of the Iowa Hawkeyes and her teammates celebrate after beating the LSU Tigers 94-87 in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament at MVP Arena on April 01, 2024 in Albany, New York. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

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Iowa will face No. 3 UConn in the Final Four. UConn is fresh off Paige Bueckers’ 28 points, 10 rebounds and six assists against USC’s freshman phenom JuJu Watkins.

Fox News’ Scott Thompson contributed to this report.

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