Round of 32 Recap: Twitter Sadness in Kansas, Elation in Kentucky

As part of the Goizeuta Bracket Buzz contest, we were tasked to determine which of the 16 matchups in the Round of 32 would produce the most pre-game “buzz” on Twitter.  Essentially, we looked at the 24 hour period before tip-off, and collected all tweets that mentioned either team or the match-up in that period.  The Kentucky-Wichita State matchup had the most pre-game buzz.  The chart below shows the pre-game buzz for all 16 matchups (it has been indexed with Kentucky-Wichita State as 100).  It is interesting to note that two teams in Kansas (Kansas & Wichita State) lost this weekend, and two teams in Kentucky (Louisville & Kentucky) won.  We were interested to see if this had an impact on all (not just basketball related) Twitter activity in each state.  We compared the average sentiment and volume of tweets for the three previous weekends with the sentiment and volume of tweets this past weekend in each state.  There was a 26.5% increase in the volume of tweets in Kansas this past weekend and a 9.7% increase in the volume of tweets in Kentucky.  The sentiment (the mix of positive, negative, and neutral tweets indexed between 1 and 100) of all tweets in Kansas decreased by 4.5%!  The sentiment in Kentucky increased by 1.9%.

Round 3 Pre Game

Mike Lewis & Manish Tripathi, Emory University 2014.

The Best of the Rest: College Basketball Fan Bases

For more on this study, click here.

They do play basketball outside of the big six BCS conferences.  Given the importance of the structure of the NCAA tournament the mid major schools often provide some of the most dramatic story lines each year.  In this post we want to highlight several non-BCS conference teams that have exceptional fan bases.

Number one on our list is the Dayton Flyers.  For the decade from 2001 to 2011, the Flyers averaged over 21 wins per season and made three NCAA tournaments.  And while this is a very respectable performance, the Dayton fans provided exceptional support.  Dayton plays in a large arena (13,435 seats) and on average over 92% of seats are filled (2005 to 2011).  The end result is that Dayton has averaged about three times as much revenue as the average D1 basketball program.  The second and third ranked programs were Xavier and Wichita State.  Xavier also produces about three times the revenue of the average D1 college by filling their 10,250 seat arena to almost 98% percent of capacity.

There are a number of other non-major conference programs that also come to mind such as Memphis, UNLV and Butler.  Butler is an interesting case given their high profile coach and tournament success.  However, in the last year available, Butler listed revenues that were still a bit less than the average D1 school.  If we look at the full ten year period Butler averaged 24.6 wins but in the last five years only filled about 55% of their available seats.  UNLV obviously has a great history but averages less than 12,000 fans (last ten years) in an 18 thousand plus arena.  Memphis is another great program.  But despite exceptional on-court performance (28 average wins from 2001 to 2011), Memphis only sold about 83% of available seats (this has increased to over 90% over the last several years).

Winners, Losers, and Question Marks from the Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament

Later tonight, the NCAA championship game between Michigan and Louisville will tipoff in the Georgia Dome.  Even though a champion has yet to be crowned, we can begin to make some judgments regarding the marketing winners, losers, and questions marks of this year’s tournament.  Before we provide our thoughts, please note that tournament success will usually result in greater publicity, fan loyalty, and all the spoils that come with brand equity (think Apple or BMW).

The two teams in the championship game are both interesting stories.  Louisville is a marketing monster, and enjoys the greatest “revenue premium” relative to on-court performance, but Michigan is another story.  Michigan performs poorly on our brand equity metric because history shows that Michigan needs to win consistently to keep the arena packed.  Anecdotally, we had to explain this poor brand equity finding to a distinguished University of Michigan business school professor, who pointed at this year’s excitement as an indicator of fan loyalty.  Given that this was a UM professor, we had to explain using small words, that true fan loyalty means that the fans even show up in down years.

For the two teams in the championship, Louisville is a clear brand equity winner, as they will continue to lengthen their lead on the competition; but the jury is still out on Michigan.  The only potential losers in the Louisville family are the Louisville fans that could be asked to pay higher prices.  As a frustrated University of Illinois fan, Professor Lewis would view this as a very small sacrifice for basketball success.

Michigan faces the challenge of all football schools: the year consists of the football season, spring football, and the remainder is perhaps a tossup between basketball season and football recruiting.  For Michigan to create true basketball brand equity, the school needs to sustain success.  While Coach Beilein’s history suggests this is likely, Michigan could lose multiple underclassmen to the NBA draft.

Two schools that didn’t make the NCAA Tournament also offer an education comparison.  Tubby Smith failed to make the tournament, and was replaced by Rick Patino’s son, Richard.  Given Minnesota’s high level of brand equity (2nd in the Big Ten), this was likely a decision to protect the brand by trying to bring in a dynamic young recruiter.  The most notable team to fail to make the tournament was last year’s winner, the Kentucky Wildcats.  The Emory Sports Marketing Science Initiative makes no pronouncements about Kentucky.  I think we can all agree that Kentucky and Coach Calipari have developed a new and unique business model.

March Madness is known for its Cinderellas.  This year’s top two Cinderella stories were the Wichita State Shockers and the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles.  Our assessment is that Wichita State was the BIG winner.  Not only did the Shockers reach the magical level of the Final Four, but also, at least as of now, Coach Marshall is sticking around.  For a mid-major to build equity, the school needs to sustain success beyond that achieved by an individual coach.  This last point brings us to FGCU.  By his hitting the exit for USC with amazing haste, it is likely that any fan excitement created by reaching the Sweet 16 has left the state of Florida with Andy Enfield.