While I was mad about March Madness early last month, I now find myself mad because of it. Not only did my bracket die during the Sweet Sixteen, but also my team, The Ohio State Buckeyes, lost an upsetting Final Four game over the weekend, thereby ending the season in my eyes. Yet, the same could not be said for everyone. Yesterday, our very own Erin Donahue—a graduate of the University of Kentucky—represented her team in a Wildcats shirt, while the few DGC-ers lucky enough to still be in the running for the office pool fervently discussed what it would take for them to win.
In the end, Kentucky and Dejon Mullings (the DGC office pool victor) weren’t the only winners last night. Every team that made it into the tournament won something: recognition. The nation knows about schools such as Duke, UNC, Ohio State and other big names in college basketball, but what’s great about March Madness is that it gives smaller colleges the opportunity to build buzz. Especially during a time when prospective freshmen are trying to figure out where they want to go to school.
It certainly worked for my brother four years ago. Faced with several university options, he didn’t know Davidson College was the right school for him until he witnessed the way in which it built camaraderie (bussing students to games, distributing t-shirts, hosting viewing events, etc.) around March Madness as its team made it all the way to the Elite Eight. Since then, Davidson has become much more to him than just a basketball school. He’s now a fan of the entire college offering.
March Madness is not just a measurement of basketball prowess, but also a highly valuable marketing tool. For Kentucky, it means a championship ring. For all 64 schools that were in the running, it might also be the key ingredient in attracting a freshman class that’s just as mad about the school as it is about its basketball team.