Women's Big Ten tourney in Minneapolis sets attendance record

Iowa takes home title for second year in a row

Basketball team celebrates draped in black and yellow confetti
Iowa hoists the trophy after defeating Ohio State at an NCAA college basketball championship game at the Big Ten women's tournament Sunday, in Minneapolis.
Bruce Kluckhohn | AP

A record crowd saw Iowa take home the Big Ten Women’s Tournament crown on Sunday at Target Center in Minneapolis, the first time the city has hosted the tournament. The championship game had more than 9,500 people in the stands, topping the previous record in 2004, according to conference officials.

Iowa defeated Ohio State 105-72, earning a spot in the national championships. Iowa took the lead midway through the first quarter and held on to it through the game, while winning the title for the second year in a row.

This year marked the first time since 2015 that the tournament took place outside of Indianapolis, and a lot of fans turned out to see the games. Before the record-breaking crowds at the final game, ticket sales broke records for first-day and quarterfinal attendance, too.

The tournament’s co-executive director Andrea Graham said that the big crowds made the games fun — especially the final.

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“Tonight was electric,” Graham said. “The players showed up fired up, they were ready to go, they were so excited. They knew the spotlight was on them. And what was even more exciting was that Target Center was packed.”

People flocked from around the country to see the games — and Iowa supporters said they felt particularly at home.

“They’ve been calling it ‘Carver North’ — the stadium [in Iowa] is Carver,” said Noa, an Iowa fan from Minneapolis. “It’s just been a lot of Iowa fans.”

And Minnesota is a hotbed for women’s basketball, too, with standout high school teams and players and the Lynx WNBA team.

“We're very lucky because we are not only just a basketball state, we are a women's sport, women's basketball community,” Graham said. “And that passion and love of the sport and of the athletes really shined through in the guest experience.”

Graham saw this tournament as a good example of Minnesota’s ability to host major sports events. Minneapolis also hosted the NCAA Women’s Final Four in 2022.

And college basketball fans don’t need to wait too long before Minneapolis does it all again — Minnesota will host both the men’s and women’s Big Ten basketball championships next year.