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.

 

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

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As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

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