Mar 20, 2024 - Sports

What to know about LSU women's basketball during March Madness

Angel Reese looks to score while holding a basketball. A South Carolina player approaches to attempt to block her.

LSU Tigers forward Angel Reese looks to score during the SEC Women's Basketball Championship Game against the South Carolina Gamecocks on March 10. Photo: John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The LSU women's basketball team's journey to defend its NCAA national championship begins Friday.

Why it matters: The LSU Tigers are helping to lead an unprecedented growth of interest in the sport.

The big picture: A record number of viewers watched LSU beat Iowa 102-85 to win the NCAA women's basketball national championship last year, per ESPN.

  • And the records keep rolling in.
  • In January, more viewers tuned in to watch LSU play South Carolina than the NBA game that was on at the same time, according to Sports Media Watch.
  • Then, when LSU played South Carolina again for the SEC Championship, the game set an ESPN record for the conference.

Meanwhile: LSU stars like Angel Reese and Flau'Jae Johnson have been cashing in on the action, too.

  • Reese's name, image and likeness deals qualify her as the No. 8 best-paid college sports star, according On3's valuation. Johnson follows at No. 18.

Catch up quick: Now, the Tigers are seeded at No. 3 for the third time in a row as March Madness returns.

  • They'll host No.14-seeded Rice at the PMAC on Friday at 3pm CT. You can watch the game on ESPN.

State of play: Some things have changed for the Tigers since last year's championship win.

  • That victory helped power the team during the offseason to bring in some top-ranked fresh talent, including DePaul transfer Aneesah Morrow, Louisville transfer Hailey Van Lith and Mikaylah Williams, who was since named SEC Freshman of the Year.
  • It took a little time for the team to find its rhythm with the new blood, but LSU closed out its regular season with an eight-game winning streak before its SEC Championship loss.

What's next: No. 6-seed Louisville and No. 11-seed Middle Tennessee are also in Baton Rouge to play at the PMAC.

  • The winner of that game will play the winner of LSU's game against Rice to move forward in the tournament and play in the Albany 2 Regional Sweet 16.

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