Mar 18, 2024 - Sports

What to know as March Madness begins

Iowa women's basketball player Caitlin Clark screams to the crowd.

Iowa's Caitlin Clark. Photo: David Berding/Getty Images

The field of teams for both the men's and women's NCAA basketball tournaments were revealed Sunday.

Why it matters: The women's Final Four will take place at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse April 5-7 and is expected to draw record crowds, according to representatives for the arena.

State of play: The No. 1 seeds for the women's tourney, which begins Wednesday, are South Carolina, Iowa, USC and Texas.

  • On the men's side, which tips off Tuesday, UConn, Purdue, Houston and North Carolina locked up top seeds.

The big picture: While the men have dominated headlines in years past, the women's tournament is receiving more attention this year thanks to Iowa star Caitlin Clark.

  • Clark, whose Hawkeyes lost the championship game to LSU last year, broke the record for the most points scored by a Division I basketball player — man or woman — earlier this month.

Between the lines: Clark is expected to go No. 1 overall in next month's WNBA draft but isn't the only star in women's college basketball.

  • Coach Dawn Staley's South Carolina squad enters the tournament undefeated, while 2021 Player of the Year Paige Bueckers leads perennial powerhouse UConn.
  • USC freshman JuJu Watkins could challenge Clark's scoring record one day, and Stanford forward Cameron Brink is projected to be No. 2 in the WNBA draft.

Zoom in: The women's Ohio State Buckeyes are a No. 2 seed and take on Maine in Columbus.

  • The men's Akron Zips won the MAC tournament and are a No. 14 seed facing No. 3 seed Creighton on Thursday.

The other side: UConn is the favorite to win the men's tournament, followed by Houston and Purdue.

  • North Carolina is also expected to be a popular choice in pools.

By the numbers: Last year's women's Final Four was the most viewed in history with an average of 4.5 million viewers on ESPN.

  • Both the 2023 Final Four game between Iowa and South Carolina and the championship game between Iowa and LSU sold out at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.

If you go: Tickets for the Final Four (April 5) and championship game (April 7) are only available via resale, with prices starting at over $300.

The bottom line: Expect true madness in Cleveland, especially if Clark and Iowa make the Final Four.

Go deeper: Compete against us in a bracket challenge! Sign up for our Axios Cleveland group on ESPN and enter a bracket for the men's or women's side or both. Once the tournament wraps up, we'll see who had the most accurate predictions and select a winner from each group.

  • You'll earn some bragging rights and maybe a piece of swag.
  • The password is "Axios" if it asks for one.
  • Entries must be completed by noon Thursday.

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