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March Madness Facts and Figures

Earlier last week, I filled out my men’s March Madness bracket. As I started writing this article on the afternoon of Saturday, March 19th, during the North Carolina-Baylor game my bracket was in the 59.7th percentile on the ESPN tournament challenge. I estimate I spent about 30 minutes filling out my bracket on that app and other places. I get paid $20/hour at my job. 30 minutes is half an hour. So 30 minutes of my time at work is worth $10. That is about enough to buy 1 Chipotle burrito in-store in the Madison, WI area.

Welcome to my March madness article, which includes, among other things, monetary facts and figures about the tournament and my commentary on them in non-March Madness terms.

Side note: We just went to overtime in the North Carolina-Baylor game.

How much do the refs get paid?

According to, the refs make $1,000 per game in the first few rounds, $1,400 in the Elite Eight games (the regional finals), and $2,000 for a Final Four game. With $2,000 I could buy the 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT in Glendale Heights, IL on

How much does the Final Four contribute to an area’s economy?

According to, the estimated impact of March Madness on New Orleans (where the Final Four is being held in 2022) is $200 million. It is estimated about 70,000 fans will visit the area for the Final Four. That’s a lot of fans who could visit Buffalo Wild Wings. Jeff Bezos probably made at least $200 million in the time it took me to write this article.

Side note: North Carolina just won after an incredible comeback by Baylor.

How much does travel cost for the teams involved?

I couldn’t find exact numbers for the teams involved, but according to ESPN it cost $10,000 in 2018 for the Chancellor of the University of Kansas and two staff members to fly to Louisville, Kentucky for the tournament (presumably on a private plane). About enough to buy a used 2012 Toyota Corolla LE.

How much school do the student-athletes miss?

Baylor University had their spring break from March 5th to March 13th. The first game Baylor played in the tournament was on Thursday, March 17th. Assuming they got to Fort Worth, TX, for their first game the day before (it’s only 100 miles away or so) and got back to Waco for classes on Monday, March 21st, that is three missed days of school. Tuition and fees at Baylor for the 2021-22 academic year are $52,822. Assuming two 15-week semesters and two finals weeks, that is 164 days worth of tuition and fees. Three missed days of school out of 164 days multiplied by $52,822 is about $966 worth of classes missed. That could cover a 4-night stay at the Midtown Hotel New Orleans for the Final Four according to a search I did on

On the other hand, the University of Connecticut had their spring break from Sunday, March 13th to Saturday, March 19th. And UConn lost in their first round game to New Mexico State on Thursday, March 19th. So it seems there was no missed school for the male Huskies.

Regarding teams that didn’t make the tournament, according to an article on, missing March Madness is good for the Virginia men so they can “tend to their studies.” And that, my friends, is priceless.

How much overall revenue does March Madness bring in?

According to the NCAA made $917.8 million from the 2019 NCAA tournament, the last normal tournament not affected by Covid. Most of this came from marketing and TV deals. Using this figure, it would take about 30,000 NCAA tournaments to pay off the US National Debt.

Does March Madness success help the universities whose teams do well?

The Butler University men’s basketball team made the championship game in 2010 and 2011. Applications to Butler University increased by 52% from 2009 to 2011. It appears the basketball team’s success helped applications go up. Or maybe it was just a coincidence.

In 2011, VCU’s men’s basketball team made the Final Four. In 2012 they made the third round in the tournament. In-state students were 92% of VCU students in 2008. In 2012 in-state students were 85% of VCU students. Out-of-state students generally pay more in tuition, so this was positive financially for VCU. Can they make gas prices decline by 7%?

How much does it cost to attend March Madness?

It depends on travel, places to stay, and how much tickets cost if you want to be at the game. As of Saturday afternoon, the cheapest ticket on to the Session 3 games on Sunday, March 20th, in Greenville, SC (Duke vs Michigan St and Auburn vs Miami) was $189. Assuming a wage of $15/hour, that’s about 12 hours of work at Panera on the campus of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.

And speaking of Duke, Winslow touched it.


Curran Martin is a Minnetonka, Minnesota native and currently resides in Madison, Wisconsin. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in May of 2019 with a degree in Economics, then spent two years working with a campus ministry, and now works in the insurance industry. Curran enjoys playing outdoor sports, learning about history and politics, and playing board games with friends in his spare time.

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