The world of college basketball turns its attention to Albany, New York this evening as Iowa and LSU get set for their much-anticipated rematch of last year's NCAA Finals at MVP Arena.

A sellout crowd is expected for tonight's epic battle, as Caitlin Clark and her Iowa Hawkeyes look to avenge last year's loss in the finals to LSU for a right to play in this year's Final Four.  But Reese and Clark aren't the only stars shining bright in Albany tonight, at least a few big-time celebs are on hand as well!

Celeb Spotting in Front of MVP Arena

Dave Portnoy, CEO of Barstool Sports and the father of the Famous Miss Peaches, is a HUGE fan of Caitlin Clark, and he flew up from Miami to root on his favorite women's college basketball team.

You can see El Prez, pictured here with Alicia, the head baker and "cookie mastermind" at Upstate Cookie Shack, a small business out of Rensselaer County.




Shaquille O'Neal Is in Town!

Rumor has it, that Shaquille O'Neal, a former standout at LSU is also in attendance in Albany for tonight's game, on his 52nd birthday, no less.  If we get any pictures or videos with Shaq Diesel we'll be sure to post them for you to see.

Celebrities Dave Portnoy and Shaquille O'Neal are in attendance at MVP Arena in Albany for Iowa and LSU, Upstate New York LSU/Iowa celebs, 518-news, 518news
Shaq is rumored to be in the building at MVP Arena for the clash between Iowa and LSU. O'neal was a standout player for LSU from 89-92 before he went on to have a Hall of Fame NBA career.


A Rivalry is Born

Last year when these two collided in the finals, an on-court rivalry was born, and while Reese claims there's no ill will, there's no doubt that these two competitors will be going hard, even trash-talking one another as they eye the prize of a National Championship.

It's a compelling matchup, "must-watch TV,"  while trending toward being the most-watched women's college game ever when the two teams square off at 7 PM on ESPN.

All-Time Rating Record

Last year, the 2023 national championship game between LSU and Iowa was the most-watched women's college basketball game...ever.

According to Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports, last year's title game averaged 9.9M viewers, and viewership peaked at 12.6M, and experts say that this year's rematch may come close to or surpass this figure.

Colorado v Iowa
Getty Images

The Caitlin Clark Effect

Attendance in Albany over the weekend was fantastic, and much of that had to do with the arrival of Caitlin Clark.  The NCAA's all-time scoring leader is a ratings monster, and when she suits up, she moves the needle.

According to, the women's basketball games on Saturday averaged 10.8 million viewers across CBS, TBS, TNT, and truTV,  making it the most-watched first day of the second round of all time.

It's been an incredible start to the tournament, and the momentum is building as two of the sport's most intriguing teams, featuring the most exciting players, square off in tonight's rematch of the most-watched women's game ever.

20 Good Places to Eat Near MVP Arena in Albany

Gallery Credit: Brian Cody TSM Albany

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