March 26, 2024
Melinda Head

An Abnormally Furious Tournament

Big Time College Sports: Big Hopes, Big Stories, Big Broadcasting, Big Betting

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I (highest-level student athletes) men’s and women’s basketball tournament is a single-elimination tournament of 68 teams (for each gender) that compete in seven rounds for the National Championship. The penultimate round is known as the Final Four, comprised of semi-finals and championship games.

The men’s semi-finals and championship games will be hosted at the State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, on April 6th and 8th. The women’s semi-finals and championship games will be held at the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, Ohio, on April 5th and 7th.

So … if you put the two genders together, you can binge on both men’s and women’s elite college-level basketball for 4 consecutive days.

Last year, the men’s University of Connecticut Huskies basketball team beat the San Diego State University Aztecs in a 76-59 victory. In the last 5 March Madness championships, no team has made it to the final match more than once.

In 2023, the Louisiana State University Tigers’ women’s basketball team defeated the University of Iowa Hawkeyes with a score of 102-85. In the last 5 March Madness championships, only Notre-Dame has made it to the final match more than once – in 2018 (won) and 2019 (lost).

The NCAA typically brings in about $1 billion from media rights, merchandise licensing, ticket sales and corporate sponsorships associated with March Madness. The bulk of this money goes back into the collegiate system to cover the cost of attending school and other related expenses. Although students do not receive “salaries” as NBA players do, college athletes are now allowed to earn money from their name, image and likeness (NIL), which can lead to additional income through endorsement deals, appearances and social media partnerships.

At the top of the NIL heap is 19 year old USC’s Bronny James, the oldest son of NBA superstar LeBron James, with an estimated NIL of $5.9 million in 2023

Ohio megastar 22 year old Caitlin Clark has topped her NIL coffers to the tune of $3.1 million

The American Gaming Association reported that in 2023 68 million Americans wagered an estimated $15.5 billion on March Madness – that’s an average bet of $227.94. Let’s hope nobody lost their shirt, though, as is always the case when gambling, I’m sure many did – especially given the unpredictability of March Madness winners over the past few years.

Basketball is easy for anyone to follow, whether in the know or not. Just count the number of balls that go into the hoop. As for referee calls, well that’s another matter entirely (LOL).

Basketball was invented by Canadian James Naismith in 1891, while he was teaching at the YMCA in Springfield, Massachusetts, during a period of inclement weather. Thank goodness for peaches and peach baskets!

Basketball and peaches have a lot in common!

Naismith’s goal was to engage his students – little did he know how engaged we all would become with March Madness.

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About the Author

A serial entrepreneur, Melinda is a sociologist and statistician who believes there is no currency with greater value than knowledge

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