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Day 1 of the NCAA® Basketball Tourney last Thursday—otherwise known as the start of March Madness®—didn’t hold a lot of surprises. Sure, there were a couple of 12th-seed upsets of their 5th-seed opponents, but it was on Friday that the real bracket-busting began. Northern Iowa crushed the college hoops hopes of Texas with an amazing half-court shot that hit nothing but net, and in an even bigger shocker, 15th-seed Middle Tennessee State upset 2nd-seed Michigan State—effectively dashing the dreams of millions of bracket-fillers. That made us wonder, could we have leveraged media intelligence to make better picks? After all, the tournament earns some significant media coverage, right?
We looked at coverage of NCAA basketball over the last few weeks, compared to both the presidential campaign and the President’s historic visit to Cuba. As you can see from the chart above, candidate coverage beat out b-ball which, in turn, beat out the Cuba story up until the moment that Air Force One touched down in Havana. For more about media intelligence on the presidential campaign, visit our U.S. Presidential Candidate Tracker microsite.
Not everyone takes a data-centric approach to making their bracket picks. While some study team stats with an intensity they never gave to their college statistics courses, others have more peculiar approaches to filling in their brackets. Avid followers of college b-ball might cringe, but some folks choose winners based on head-to-head mascot match-ups. After all, wildcats of any ilk should always beat birds, right? Others make decisions based on team colors. Sports Illustrated suggests that non-basketball fans can make their picks based on their favorite NCAA football teams instead. Still, we thought it would be interesting to monitor the media and see if we can tease out any insights to guide us forward (in case, you’re also participating in one of those pools where you can ‘start fresh’ with your picks before the next round.) Let’s take a look at the share of voice earned by each of the teams heading into the Sweet Sixteen®.
If the share of voice chart above is any indicator—and I really hope it is for my bracket—Kansas is a lock to beat Maryland, and Villanova is poised to take down Miami.
In the Midwest, the share of voice is less lopsided. Iowa State and UVA are pretty evenly matched, while Syracuse has an edge over Gonzaga.
In the West, Texas A&M is a bit of an underdog in the share of voice competition, so Oklahoma may have a leg up. Oregon could get edged out by Duke, but in an interesting twist, the Ducks may edge out the competition as they are one of the top organizations mentioned in the media, as shown in the chart below.
Finally, in the East, the Tarheels have the jump on the Hoosiers, but the Badgers may have a brawl on their hands in a close match with the Fighting Irish.
Of course, you have different reasons for media monitoring and gathering competitive intelligence, and to stay at the top of your game, you need to look at a wide range of factors—from the share of voice being earned by your competitors to emerging trends that could impact your industry. Quickly cutting through a barrage of media to find the insights you need can help put you on a winning path.