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The Cream Always Rises

College Basketball Stalwarts Shine Ahead of Final Fours

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Social Media
NCAA
Published 
April 1, 2022
 | 
6
 min read

In NCAA tournaments riddled with upsets throughout their opening rounds, familiar faces found their way through the chaos to the 2022 Men’s and Women’s Final Fours. Each of the remaining eight teams has participated in at least one Final Four since 2015, with all but two winning national championships during that span. So, although fans enjoyed underdogs tipping the scales in the opening rounds, the sport’s perennial powers persevered through their regions to earn trips to the season’s decisive weekend. The stage is now set in Minneapolis for No. 1 seeds South Carolina, Stanford, and Louisville, as well as the Bridgeport Region’s No. 2 seed, UConn – making its 14th consecutive Final Four appearance – to compete on Friday for the right to play in Sunday’s women’s national championship game. Meanwhile, the boys are bound for the bayou and an all-blue Final Four at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans. Villanova and Kansas – both winners of three national titles – will serve as the undercard for Duke-North Carolina, a Tobacco Road rivalry never before realized in the men’s NCAA Tournament. But each of these eight squads charted different paths to their ultimate destinations, and MVP has been continually monitoring social discussions surrounding their journeys. In the process, our social platform revealed significant insights and comparisons regarding the teams’ online breadth, value generation, and growth – among other metrics – over the course of March Madness.

Duke’s Historic Run Drives Social Value

Last summer, Duke Men’s Basketball Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski announced the 2021-2022 season would be his last. After 42 years at the helm of the Blue Devils and more than 1,200 career wins as a collegiate head coach, the legendary Coach K will see his career come to a close in New Orleans this weekend, win or lose. With that storyline prevailing throughout the regular season, it is no surprise Duke has been a trending topic on Twitter through the first two weeks of the NCAA Tournament. After creating 124.2 million impressions on the social platform during the event’s first weekend, the Blue Devils’ total jumped to 167 million from March 24-27 – the most among Final Four-bound teams during the period. Only St. Peter’s and Gonzaga exceeded that figure, with 321.6 million and 192.1 million, respectively. But more importantly, Duke’s wins over Texas Tech and Arkansas helped it generate $325.2K worth of post value on its owned Twitter account. Its Chapel Hill neighbor finished second among men’s Final Four teams in terms of average post value – $2,650 – and total post value – $198.7K – over the weekend. Interestingly, despite losing to North Carolina in the Elite Eight, tournament darling St. Peter’s increased its average value per post by 3.32x from one weekend to the next, earning $270.2K in total post value in the four days ending March 27.

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Another No. 1 Ranking for South Carolina

The women’s college basketball rankings were relatively fluid this season. Some teams jumped into and fell out of the Top 25, while others spent months jockeying for position. But throughout it all, there was a single constant. The South Carolina Gamecocks occupied the top spot. Led by Naismith Women’s Coach of the Year Dawn Staley and Naismith Women’s Player of the Year Aliyah Boston, USC earned the top overall seed in the women’s NCAA tournament and proceeded to defeat its first four opponents by an average margin of 28 points. And true to form, the team simultaneously performed well on social media, as the only women’s Final Four fixture to increase its per post social metrics between the first and second weekend of the Big Dance. Engagements on South Carolina’s owned Twitter account jumped 31% week-over-week and its total post value raised 3% to $46.1K – 59.7% more than second-place Stanford earned through its channel.

Although UConn finished third in total post value among women’s Final Four teams with $13.2K, its double-overtime thriller against North Carolina State was among the most exhilarating games of the tournament, creating resounding social chatter on March 28. Partly as a result, the Huskies and Wolfpack were two of only three women’s teams – along with Louisville – to experience an uptick in total impressions during the second weekend.

Let’s Hear It for the Girls

While men’s teams have been generating more engagements, impressions, and post value than their counterparts during the 2022 NCAA Tournaments, MVP’s social platform revealed reasons to believe the gap between the men and women may be narrowing on social media. In addition to average impressions on tweets about the women’s event increasing for the regional semifinals and finals – whereas the men’s average impressions coincidentally dipped – each of the women’s Final Four teams experienced greater percentages of follower growth than every men’s team set to compete this weekend. The defending women’s national champion Stanford Cardinal added 4.77% more followers on its Twitter account, while the Louisville Cardinals also eclipsed 3% more followers in a span of only four days. Among men’s teams, Villanova and North Carolina were the only ones to surpass 1% follower growth. Notably, though not a men’s Final Four participant, St. Peter’s grew its followers by 12.69x thanks to its Cinderella run to the Elite Eight.

There Can Only Be One

After weeks of surviving and advancing through motivated mid-major opponents and formidable foes alike, the remaining men’s and women’s teams have their sights set on winning two more games in New Orleans and Minneapolis, respectively. A single team in each tournament will have its one shining moment in the coming days, while the rest will come up just short of their goals. But while hanging a banner is the ultimate dream, each group of young men and women is meanwhile creating experiences and memories for themselves, fans, and alumni across the country – and many are following the story on social media each step of the way. MVP will continue to monitor the tournaments’ social reach until the final buzzers have sounded to provide further value and audience stories after the nets have been cut.

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