by Ryan Dobrin
For the last week and a half, the eyes of the sports world have been focused on college basketball. With the Final Four of the men’s and women’s NCAA tournaments upon us, sports bars are packed, business productivity is down and fingernails are bitten. In short, these three weeks can be summed up in a single word: Madness.
The best of the best college teams (32 conference champions and 32-36 at-large teams) were ranked, seeded and placed into a bracket consisting of four regions, or quadrants. This single-elimination tournament started out with the best teams playing the worst teams, with the winners of each region battling it out in a single location to crown a national champion just one week from today.
With the amount of teams that played, the competition on and off the court and the general randomness tournament basketball can create, the NCAA tournament is a marketing jackpot. Brands fight for exposure, hotels fight for visitors, media companies fight for readers and viewers, and the NCAA and the schools try to put their best foot forward.
The broadcasting rights to air the games is in the billions as the chaos, underdog stories and exhilarating finishes attract massive viewership. Perhaps contributing the most to the marketing potential is the fact that the competition isn’t just on the court; it spills over to the general public. Fans, experts and novices get to participate in the madness by trying to predict the winners of each game. Every year millions of people join office pools, flood casino sports books with bets and have friendly competitions with friends to see who can fill out the best bracket.
So keep watching your bracket (if it wasn’t busted by those Auburn and Michigan State victories), sit back with your friends and family and cheer on these student athletes as they give it their all for the chance to be named a champion. And hey, if you did fill out that perfect bracket, you can be a champion too.