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The March Madness I'll Be Watching

One of the greatest times in sports, especially college sports, March Madness kicks off today! Fans get their brackets ready and believe that “This will be their year”, just to have their brackets busted after one day. There is always a Cinderella story. There are always a handful of schools that can’t find a way to get it done in the spotlight. Lastly, there are always players that make the most of the moment, and etch their names into history.

My favorite part of March Madness is the eyes it brings to the sport, especially on the women’s side. Many people who don’t tune into the regular season action, have their eyes glued to their screens to watch the madness go down. Over the past two years, the Women’s tournament has seen a remarkable shift in almost every aspect. Viewership has gone up. Money invested on the corporate side has gone up. Players are getting taken care of with nutrition and weight rooms. Just two years ago, the Women’s tournament got to use the branding “March Madness” for the first time. Now, the get-in price for the Womens’ Championship Game is $390, 50% more than the price for the Men’s Championship. 

Sports Cards Madness

Previous to 2021, college athletes weren’t allowed to make any money off of their name, image, or likeness. When the NIL deal was put into effect on July 1 2021, it not only transcended college sports forever, but also sports cards. Companies have done a great job partnering with colleges and athletes to give us the collector, cards of our favorite players during their college career, repping the college colors we love. Panini, Topps/Fanatics, and OnIt Athlete have featured some amazing cards, offering many different price points, to gain new collectors due to college fandom. 

Just two weeks ago, Topps/Fanatics launched one of the coolest products of this college basketball season, 2023 Bowman’s Best University Basketball. Featuring on-card autos, and the first patch autos of the brightest players in the game. This product has been received well, and marked by some as the “best product of 2024”. There is a variety of players/teams to choose from, and each collector has plenty to chase. 

Caitlin Clark is by far the best-selling basketball prospect this year, having record-setting career totals paired with record-setting sports card sales. In January, Clark broke the record for a women's basketball card sale, with her 2022 Bowman University First Bowman Auto Superfractor 1/1 PSA 10, sold for $78,000. Clark has maintained a fan base, and her sports cards have continued to rise this season.

After the inaugural 2022 Bowman University, this year Topps/Fanatics added more female players to the checklist, with this year’s featuring First Bowman cards of UCONN guard Paige Bueckers (No.1 recruit in the 2020 class, 2021 Naismith POTY), Angel Reese (Reigning national champion), Cameron Brink (Three-time PAC-12 Defensive POTY, Consensus No.2 pick in the WNBA draft) among many others. 

After Clark as the best-selling athlete in the product, No.2 and No.3 are likely Bronny James and Reed Sheppard. The rest of the Top 10 in highest sales are taken up mostly by the female players, as this new craze around women’s basketball has brought in many new fans. This also marks a special time for Women’s basketball collectors in general. For years, women’s basketball collectors didn't have much to choose from, with no college products being available, and Panini Prizm being the only pro-product. Now, there is ample opportunity for collectors, and it’s showing, the demand has always been there!


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