Brief - The Hustle

How much cash are these March Madness upsets worth?

Written by Wes Schlagenhauf | Jun 30, 2020 8:38:55 AM

The first weekend of March Madness has lived up to its name: An unprecedented number of Davids dominated Goliaths, making history — and a whole lotta cash for their conferences.

Most notably, UMBC (the Golden Retrievers babayy!) became the first No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 (Virginia) in the history of the NCAA Tournament — that’s a big payday, to the fight tune of $1.7m.

So how do these payouts work?

All about those units

According to CNBC, units are what the NCAA doles out in revenue rewards for tournament performance.

Teams earn units for every game they play in. This year’s units are valued at around $273k — and when all’s said and done, they add up to way more.

Units are dispersed annually over the next 6 years, increasing in value each year 2-3%, meaning Loyola-Chicago’s dramatic win to move into the Sweet 16, while only one game, will end up being worth close to $3.4m. But it doesn’t all go to Loyola-Chicago…

It goes to their conference

The units earned (and the money made) are distributed evenly among each team in their conference, whether they played in March or not.

In other words, the big schools who were upset will most likely make the most money because their conferences are more competitive.

The Atlantic Coast Conference (Virginia’s conference), for example, has 9 teams in the tournament this year, accrued a total 64 units between 2015 and 2017, and reported $373.4m in 2016 revenue.