March Madness continues with the Final Four in Minneapolis, and just Virginia remains as a No. 1 seed after three top seeds advanced to the Elite Eight. Virginia is now up to a 6-point favorite over No. 5 Auburn, and No. 2 Michigan State is a 2.5-point favorite over No. 3 Texas Tech with some sportsbooks dropping the Spartans to a 2-point favorite on Friday.
— NCAA Final Four (@FinalFour) March 31, 2019
But while the NCAA Tournament is drawing record wagering and fans with those four teams in their brackets are still engaged in the outcomes, the buzz on social media is showing added interest in the betting market.
Fizziology, a social media research firm, looked at the conversations happening on social media around March Madness, and specifically those around sports betting. Using technology and human analysis, Fizziology converts the opinions shared on social media platforms into contextualized data and strategic insights.
So with legal sports betting now in nine states and spreading across the country, and Legal Sports Report reporting more than 25 states with proposed legislation to legalize sports betting, the conversation surrounding March Madness is drawing added interest on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. So where is the conversation coming from?
Rich Calabrese, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Fizziology told me that states with sports betting legislation were showing up as top markets and were “more talkative about the NCAA Tournament.”
From selection Sunday to the start of the NCAA Tournament, 24% of mentions about sports betting as it relates to March Madness was stemming from locations where gambling is legal or recently approved – New York, Las Vegas and Philadelphia, even though those markets only made up 13% of all March Madness buzz.
Following the Elite Eight games, March Madness (MM) sports betting mentions grew to 26%, but New York, Las Vegas and Philadelphia was down to 11% of the March Madness buzz. Philadelphia and Vegas did not rank in the top 10 for all of March Madness mentions, but each generated 2% of conversation.
|City||MM Talking Sports Betting|
Fans complained the most on social media following Duke’s loss to Michigan State, and early in the tournament when Louisville lost to Minnesota in the opening round. The negative buzz was strongest as top teams busted brackets, and specifically in Duke’s defeat.
Who are fans betting on?
Duke was the popular choice to win the tournament, as 37% said they had the Blue Devils cutting down the nets. The next most popular choices to win the tournament were North Carolina (14%) and Kentucky (8%).
A total of 65% of brackets have a 1-seed winning it all, while 18% said they were taking a 2-seed.
You can learn more about Fizziology and follow the #MarchMadness conversations of the #FinalFour teams on their official twitter accounts and with hashtags.
Virginia Cavaliers – @UVAMensHoops #GoHoos
Auburn Tigers – @AuburnMBB #WarEagle
Michigan State Spartans – @MSU_Basketball #Spartans
Texas Tech Red Raiders – @TexasTechMBB #4to1
Three of the Final Four teams are top-10 defensive teams according to KenPom adjusted efficiency rankings – Texas Tech (1st), Virginia (5th) and Michigan State (9th). Those three are also efficient on offense and Texas Tech (28th) has been the most impressive team in the tournament overall while Virginia (2nd) and Michigan State (5th) used solid offensive execution late to win very close contests in the Elite Eight. Auburn barely cracks the top-40 in efficiency defense, but the Tigers No. 5 offense with strong 3-point shooting was the difference in taking down perennial power North Carolina handily in the Sweet Sixteen followed by Kentucky in the Elite Eight. Still, Auburn is the weakest remaining team in the Final Four, and Tigers fans along with social media supporters are going to see the Tigers season end without a national championship.
You can bet on it.