The Money Bracket: What If the Richest Team Won?


March Madness is big business. The tournament rakes in $1 billion in ad sales, $771 million in broadcast rights, and a countless amount in office pool payouts that you never win. (Players will make $0, though a select few are compensated in torn nylon.) Here’s what two NCAA tournament brackets would look like if teams advanced by measures other than points scored: total athletic revenue and total men’s basketball expenses per win this season.

Revenue
What’s amazing about filling out a bracket based on athletic department wealth (see above) is how similar it looks to a bracket based on real tournament predictions. The school with the least revenue, Mount St. Mary’s at $7.5 million, doesn’t even make it out of the play-in game with Albany (a result that mirrors real life). Deep-pocketed Texas emerges from a difficult region (Texas, Michigan, and Tennessee all have nine-figure revenues, with Louisville coming close) to take home the trophy.

Win Cost
By taking a school’s total men’s basketball expenses, we can figure out how much each team spent per win this season. North Carolina Central, with its relatively small budget and 28-5 record, spent only about $34,000 on each victory. (This ignores strength of schedule—wins in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference can be easier to come by than wins in a more powerful conference). On the other end, Ohio State took home the “least efficient” title, dropping more than $750,000 per win. Five other teams—Duke, Kentucky, Louisville, Syracuse, and Oklahoma State—also broke the half-million-per-victory mark.

 

OUR NEW CORRUPTION PROJECT

The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate