March Madness Statistics: Numbers Of The NCAA Tournament

It's the most wonderful time of the year...for college basketball fans! 

As March unfolds, the sports world braces itself for one of the most exhilarating and unpredictable events of the year: March Madness. 

This annual NCAA basketball tournament captivates millions of fans with its thrilling matchups, unexpected upsets, and Cinderella stories that defy the odds. 

While the drama on the court keeps us on the edge of our seats, behind the scenes are hundreds of statistics and facts that would intrigue any sports fan. Below are some of our favorites.

Top March Madness Statistics [Editor’s Choice]

  • $16.3 billion dollars in corporate losses are attributed to distracted employees watching the game
  • The odds of a winning bracket are 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808
  • In 2023, 75% of fans bet for the first time on March Madness 
  • Both 2022 and 2023 had record attendance levels for women's March Madness
  • "March Madness" was first used as a basketball reference in 1939

Skip ahead to see our March Madness infographic or keep reading for more statistics.

March Madness Spending Statistics 

It's no surprise that March Madness rakes in a huge sum of money each year. In fact, the NCAA makes around $1 billion dollars in revenue every year from the games. This staggering amount is due to a variety of factors, from ticket sales to marketing campaigns. 

  • Host cities can make up to $250 million dollars for their participation
    Cities involved in the NCAA can expect to bring in high amounts of revenue. For instance, Pittsburgh brought in over $10 million dollars for both men's and women's games. 

  • $16.3 billion dollars in corporate losses are attributed to distracted employees watching the game
    It's true – businesses face losing billions of dollars simply from a dip in staff productivity due to watching the games. In fact, the average employee will watch around six hours of game time and 56% of millennial workers will miss a deadline to watch. 

  • In addition to monetary losses, businesses can expect employees to watch up to 6 hours of the game during work hours
    To combat this, allow us to suggest hosting a March Madness office watch party during work hours. Throw in some pizza, and you have happy (hopefully more productive) employees! Take our Drive Research team party for example.

March Madness work party

  • Bill Self, coach for the University of Kansas, is the highest-paid coach, raking in a $10 million dollar salary
    Self is also set to make $53 million dollars in the next five years, after signing his contract in 2023. Other top paid coaches include John Calipari ($8,533,483), Tom Izzo ($5,738,727), Rick Barnes ($5,450,000), and Bruce Pearl ($5,449,152).

  • There’s a 47X difference between the salaries of NBA and NCAA players
    An NBA rookie can expect to make around $3.4 million dollars a year, whereas a D1 men’s basketball scholarship player will make around $71.4K. 

  • March Madness has three top sponsors: AT&T, Coca-Cola, and Capital One.
    Sponsoring the games for over a decade, these three companies are intimately connected with the festivities around the big game in its host city. 

Sam, Spike and Chuck Return for More Capital One March Madness | Muse by  Clio

March Madness Bracket Statistics

How seriously do you take your bracket picks? While some college basketball fans enjoy randomly filling out their bracket with fingers crossed, others take it *quite* seriously. But the odds are the same for everyone.

  • The odds of a winning bracket are 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808
    Try saying that out loud. This figure is for those who simply guess when filling out the bracket. For those who have a little extra basketball knowledge, the odds are about 1 in 120.2 billion. 

  • Over 20 billion brackets were filled out on ESPN in 2023
    Out of this, only 37 fans beat the odds and chose the correct Final Four teams. 

  • The current NCAA tournament bracket seeds all teams based on skill level
    This method allows for matchups that are more evenly balanced in terms of talent, creating an environment where each team has a genuine opportunity to succeed. By seeding teams according to their perceived skill level, the bracket system aims to enhance the excitement and unpredictability of March Madness, ultimately delivering thrilling contests and memorable moments for fans worldwide.

  • There are two types of bracket seeding in the current NCAA tournament
    First, the region seed, which is typically what most fans are referring to when they mention the term "seed." Second, there's the overall seed. This ranks each of the 68 teams in the tournament from lowest to highest.

  • The "best bracket" was completed during the 2018 championship.
    Picking 51 of 63 games correctly, this bracket beat out millions in the Capital One Bracket Challenge Game with an 80.95 percentage. 

  • Have your Final Four and Elite Eight picks remained in your bracket? You're on the right track.
    Or at least, it looks that way! Seven of the last bracket champs missed just zero to two Elite picks. As for the Final Four, the last eight champs correctly chose 30 of the 32 teams. 

March Madness Betting Statistics 

March Madness is the dream of any sports betting fanatic. Whether you like to bet casually or put time and effort into your picks, it's a way to add even more competition to the game. 

  • In 2023, 75% of fans bet for the first time on March Madness
    It's never too late to start right? What's more, over 56 million basketball fans participated in some form of a bracket contest. 

  • 25% of US basketball fans bet on the NCAA championship tournament
    This figure is mainly due to the increased legalization of sports betting. Currently, sports betting is legal in 38 states and Washington D.C. (with five more added since last year's tournament). 

  • 68 million college basketball fans will wager over $15 billion dollars on the tournament
    Additionally, 21 million fans will casually bet with friends. Common sports betting platforms for March Madness include Fan Duel and Draft Kings.

  • Consider betting on an underdog team
    They come through, sometimes! This gets you a large net payout, and there actually is a chance of an underdog team coming out on top. A "famous" underdog was Villanova during the 1985 championship, where the team ultimately won. 

  • Princeton was believed to be the financial underdog of 2023
    Shelling out just $1.7 million on its basketball program, Princeton spent more than seven times less than Arizona, and six times less than Missouri. 

  • Four number-one seeds have made it to the Final Four only once
    Taking place in 2008, the four history-making teams included North Carolina, UCLA, Memphis, and Kansas. 

  • Want risk-free betting? Avoid parlays
    Parlays combine multiple bets into one, single wager. However, this strategy isn't ideal for a long-term betting strategy due to its risky nature. That said, parlays can offer a big payout in the end. 

  • Number one seeds win roughly 86% of the time
    Since 1985, number one seeds are 126-21 in the second round, while number two seeds are 93-45. 

  • Virginia was the only number one seed to ever lose in the first round in 2018
    Before UMBC's victory over Virginia, just two number 16 seeds had lost by less than a bucket: Georgetown and Oklahoma. 

Here are some more general sports betting statistics from our market research company. We surveyed over 400 sports betters to learn about their spending, habits, and preferences.

March Madness Attendance and Ticket Statistics

Countless fans will flock to an arena (or TV) for this year's NCAA tournament. In-person attendees can expect to spend a significant amount on tickets, depending on the game. 

  • Both 2022 and 2023 had record attendance levels for women's March Madness
    In 2023, 231, 777 basketball fans were in attendance, beating out 2022's 216, 890 record. Prior to that, the high was 214,290 in 2004. 

NCAA Men's Basketball March Madness Tickets |

  • Tickets for the NCAA championship can cost you up to $500
    And usually, the price is even higher than that. In fact, the typical cost of an all-session ticket rounds out to a hefty $1,607.69! PS: this is "cheap" compared to what an NBA seat will run you. 

  • The starting price for a Final Four tournament game ticket is $175
    On the flip side, First Four tickets can cost you anywhere from $68 to $200+. 

  • The average ticket price for the women's Final Four tournament was $176
    While the average men's Final Four ticket cost over 65% more at $292. Even though this is a significant gap, it's noticeably smaller than in previous years. 

  • The University of Dayton Arena has hosted 133 games
    Dating back to 1970, the arena is host to the First Four and has become a hosting staple. Other popular locations include the Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City and the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City.
  • 2024 March Madness attendees can enjoy live music at the March Madness Music Festival
    Taking place at Margaret T. Hance Park in Phoenix, this year's lineup will include performances by ZEDD, the Jonas Brothers, and Mumford & Sons. 

  • Roughly 10 million viewers tuned into last year's tournament
    Who says you can't attend from your couch? While 2023's game had a massive amount of viewers, it was 7% less than 2022's figures. 

March Madness History

A true college basketball fan knows the ins and outs of March Madness, right? Refresh your knowledge with these historical facts about the NCAA tournament. 

  • The March Madness tournament field expanded to 64 teams in 1985
    Originally 16 teams in 1951, the field grew to 32 in 1975 before it would hit 64. 

  • "March Madness" was first used as a basketball reference in 1939
    However, the term wouldn't be related to the NCAA tournament until it was used by CBS broadcaster Brent Musberger in 1982.

  • Since 1939, there have been 83 editions of the March Madness setup
    Prior to the 68-team lineup, the NCAA tournament continued to grow until hitting that final figure. The only "blip" occurred in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

  • The lowest-scoring tournament game occurred in 1941
    With the fewest points, Pittsburgh beat out North Carolina 26-20. Prior to this win, the lowest-scoring game was the 30-29 win by Duquense in 1940. 

  • Duke's Coach K has the most NCAA tournament wins at 101
    Never going a decade without coaching a Final Four game, Coach K achieved the Final Four an impressive 13 times. Coming in second with 77 wins is North Carolina's Roy Williams. 

  • The very first NCAA bracket pool is believed to have started in 1977
    With 88 fans filling out brackets in a Staten Island bar, the payout was $10 with a winner-take-all format. Years later in 2006, 150,000 fans entered at that same bar with a $1.5 million payout. 

March Madness Infographic

March Madness Infographic

March Madness FAQ

Who is the #1 female college basketball player?

  • Point guard for the Iowa Hawkeyes, Caitlin Clark is the #1 female college basketball player. 

Who has won the most men's March Madness?

  • UCLA has won the most men's March Madness tournaments, boasting 11 wins. 

How many March Madness games are upsets?

  • In the past 38 seasons, there have been 10 upsets. With an annual average of around 8.5, 2007 had only 3 upsets and 2022 had a whopping 14! 

Have there been any perfect March Madness brackets?

  • Nope. The final perfect bracket busted last year with number 16 FDU beat out number one Purdue. 

Final Thoughts & Sourcing

Considering yourself something of a March Madness expert at this point? We hope so. 

This classic annual tournament is much more than a few weeks of basketball games. March Madness represents a time for budding athletes to shine and for campuses to show off their pride. 

Additionally, March Madness is also a massive opportunity for the local economy of host towns. Drawing in countless fans, the NCAA tournament generates plenty of buzz and significant revenue from ticket sales and more. 

With the 2024 games right around the corner, we hope you're prepped and ready to fill out that bracket! 


Contact Our Market Research Company 

You can thank us for making you the March Madness aficionado at the next watch party. 

Drive Research is a market research company based in New York. Our team has years of combined experience in research and will partner with your company to find the best solution for your unique needs. 

To learn more about our market research services, get in touch with us through any of the ways below. 

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Lark Allen

As a Content Marketing Specialist, Lark has a strong background and passion for creative, professional, and journalistic writing. She is also a self-proclaimed music freak and 90s enthusiast.

Learn more about Lark, here.

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