March Madness tournaments saw game-changing off-court impacts
The GIST: With UConn’s Monday night confetti shower, the men’s and women’s college basketball seasons are fully wrapped, so let’s roll the game tape and dive into the tournaments’ off-court impacts.
The men: The regular season’s record upsets translated into a wild March Madness, with brackets busted left and right and, most notably, a No. 4 as the highest seed in the Final Four. While the Cinderella stories were fun, the men’s tourney suffered the perils of parity in the later rounds.
- With so many under-the-radar teams advancing to the sport’s biggest stage, the Final Four lacked star power and the hype it commands. Case in point? Only one Player of the Year finalist, No. 3 Gonzaga's Drew Timme, made the Elite Eight.
The women: Things couldn’t be more different on the gals’ side. Big personalities led to record ratings, including a jaw-dropping 9.9M sets of eyes watching LSU’s Angel Reese and Iowa’s Caitlin Clark battle for the natty. Even while the men hoisted their trophy, it seems all the internet wanted to discuss was the trash talk heard ’round the world.
- This momentum, sparked by former Oregon star Sedona Prince’s 2021 March Misogyny TikTok illuminating the disparity between the men’s and women’s tourneys, led to well-deserved, hard-earned growth. But there’s still more to do.
What’s next: As outlined in Monday’s Sports Business newsletter, the next big step is unbundling the women’s championship media rights from other sports to garner a fee worthy of the game’s increasing popularity. And they better hop to it — as Iowa’s Monika Czinano said, the sport is “only going to get more exciting.” To the moon!