Economics Behind NCAA March Madness

By Brandon Smith | March 31, 2022

We have entered into one of the most wonderful times of the year: March Madness. March Madness is a beloved NCAA basketball tournament that sees 64 college basketball teams from across the country compete for a chance to bring home championship hardware to their respective campuses. This tournament often referred to as the “Big Dance” is incredibly popular in the United States. Millions of Americans tune in to sports networks daily to watch these exciting games. Many of us root for a certain team, while others watch these games for the enticing upsets, buzzer beaters, comebacks, and other great qualities this action packed tournament has to offer. However, while it is easy to fall in love with a particular team or assure yourself you know which team will win it all, many Americans are blind to the fact that the Big Dance can cause some crippling pain for their wallets.

The United States economy is impacted in various ways during March Madness: host locations see their economy boom when fans travel to cities such as Milwaukee and New Orleans to watch these games unfold. Team merchandise brings in a lot of revenue during the Big Dance as well. According to CNBC, advertisements for the NCAA tournaments total $1 billion. However, the impact March Madness has on the economy isn’t always beneficial to someone. For decades, people have been betting money on sports teams to win. It is for this same reason that legendary baseball player Pete Rose will not be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. The concept of funneling money into a league to try and predict who will win these games is a rapidly growing market. Each year, millions of Americans spend money on predicting which teams will win? Seems easy enough to win your money back though, right? Wrong. According to an article by CBS Sports, no one in the history of March Madness betting has ever correctly predicted the winner of each game. There is quite literally a 0% success rate thus far, yet millions of people still carelessly throw away their money hoping to guess all the winning teams correctly and win a free pick up truck and tickets to the Finals (the prize in most betting leagues). It is important to note that according to the American Gaming Association, an estimated 45 million Americans will wage approximately $3.1 billion on March Madness games. With this in mind, is wasting your hard earned money truly worth it? Do you think you will be the first person ever to accurately predict the outcome of every game played during March Madness? Or will you be left out of pocket after Sister Jean and the Loyola Chicago basketball team go dancing and win it all?

Edited by Joesph Barbieri