Sunday has become the primary night for Americans to watch “prestige television.”

Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Succession, The Last of Us … you know the type.

These are the shows people can’t stop talking about at work the next morning, whether or not you’ve watched them yourself. The Sunday night formula has proven quite effective even as new shows cycle in and out over the years. No prestige show lasts forever.

Last Sunday, there was a new entry on the prestige programming menu: The Caitlin Clark Show.

Clark, the lead performer, became the first men’s or women’s basketball player to record a 40-point triple-double in an NCAA Tournament game. Her 41-point, 12-assist, 10-rebound performance led Iowa to a 97-83 Elite Eight win over Louisville.

But what stands out about Clark isn’t the mere fact she’s capable of making such things happened. It’s that so many people, present company included, are compelled to watch her make them happen.

By the millions. A total of 2.499 million viewers tuned in to ESPN to watch Clark and the Hawkeyes, topping the highest-rated NBA game on the network this season.

Think about that.

Iowa women’s basketball brought in a larger audience than the Knicks vs. the Celtics — as tradition-laden a matchup as you can find in the NBA. And it’s certainly not because Iowa City has more TV sets than New York City.

It’s because of Caitlin Clark, who is a player without stylistic peer.

Some have called her a female Steph Curry thanks to her seemingly limitless shooting range. But there’s more to it than just shooting.

Clark plays with a style and panache that brings to mind the most peerless player in basketball history: Pistol Pete Maravich.

The modern-day Maravich

Maravich doesn’t really get his due when we talk about which players were the greatest of all-time.

In college and the pros, he was never a winner. Not even when he joined the Celtics in his final NBA season. Boston was upset by the 76ers in the Eastern Conference Finals.

But that’s not what old-timers who actually got to see Maravich play in person focus on. People weren’t so ring-obsessed in the 1970s. Sure, there have been better players than Maravich. But there’s never been anyone who did it like Pistol Pete.

The thing that made Maravich cool was that he did everything with flair. Passing. Shooting. Dribbling.

The guy had “Pistol” on the back of his jersey, for goodness sake. Quotation marks included.

That’s infinite swagger. But one doesn’t average 44.2 points per game in their college career without infinite swagger.

Clark has that swagger. She seems acutely aware that she is as much performer as player.

After hitting her sixth 3 against Louisville, Clark busted out former WWE superstar John Cena’s “You Can’t See Me” celebration.

This caught the attention of Cena himself, who also appears to have been among the 2.499 million.

This level of showmanship does not exactly endear Clark to opposing fanbases. Indiana fans in particular have a strong distaste for her.

Their general feeling is that Clark is an attention hog and drama queen who stole the media spotlight from the Hoosiers throughout their Big Ten championship season.

From a fellow Hoosier: Get over it. This is fun.

Lest they forget, the state of Indiana has embraced preening showboats with infinite shooting range before. But only when said player is on their team.

Reggie Miller wasn’t a champion like contemporaries Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon.

But he was a purely entertaining walking bucket who brought flash and notoriety to a place unironically called Naptown. Miller didn’t have Pistol Pete’s flair, but he did have sizzle. Reggie outshined New York.

That’s what Clark brings to Iowa. And the entire sport.

When’s the last time anything in Iowa sizzled outside of bacon on the morning griddle?

With a tip of the cap to Cena and his fellow pro wrestlers, Clark is perfectly suited to play the heel role. She’s compelling.

If you don’t like Caitlin Clark, you’re not going to ignore Iowa’s next game after the Hawkeyes beat you. You’re going to tune in to make sure they lose.

There have been plenty of terrific women’s basketball players over the years. Swoopes. Lobo. Taurasi. Bird. Parker. Ionescu. And many, many more.

But has there ever been a presence quite this polarizing?

UConn fans can probably think of some Tennessee players who fit that description. And Lady Vols fans surely have a list of Huskies they can’t stand for similar reasons.

But for those of us who exist outside of that rivalry, or only follow the women’s game in passing, Clark conducts a level of electricity we haven’t quite experienced.

That’s ultimately the basis of the Maravich connection.

Even though he isn’t considered the Greatest Of All Time, there’s a reverence for Pistol Pete’s play that is almost like none other. He brings warm, fuzzy feelings to people of a certain age — because watching him was guaranteed to be a good time.

It’s the same with Clark.

But there’s also a major difference. Clark could win a championship.

A chance to win it all

No Big Ten women’s basketball team has won a national championship since Purdue in 1999 — a drought 1 year longer than that on the men’s side. It’s the only time a Big Ten team has ever won the national title in the sport. (Maryland won it all in 2006 while still a member of the ACC.)

Clark and the Hawkeyes have a chance to rewrite that history in Dallas this weekend.

But in order to do it, Iowa must beat undefeated South Carolina in the national semifinal. Dawn Staley’s Gamecocks haven’t lost since last year’s SEC championship game.

In all likelihood, the matchup is going to shatter Sunday’s viewership numbers. All of the elements are in place for this to be the most-watched women’s basketball game ever. Namely, the nation’s best player facing what could become the sport’s first unbeaten team in 7 years.

For the women’s game, it could well be the breakthrough moment comparable to Magic Johnson facing Larry Bird in the 1979 Final Four. Where casual fans are converted into serious fans.

But even if it doesn’t have that long-term effect, Iowa-South Carolina doesn’t figure to disappoint.

The Caitlin Clark Show has yet to miss.