The NBA‘s Play-In Tournament is back for its 2nd year. We highlight the west coast matchup of the day as the Minnesota Timberwolves take on the Los Angeles Clippers tonight on TNT.
With March Madness wrapping up earlier this week, it signifies the end of the first ever March Madness tournament in which many athletes participating have NIL deals. Before the tournament began, Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero signed a deal with Yahoo! Sports in order to promote the company’s bracket “Pick’em game”. In addition to this deal, Sheets and Giggles (a mattress company) signed five athletes to be a part of their “Sleep Sixteen” campaign. This initiative promoted the effects of a good night’s sleep by partnering with five female and male athletes who played the least amount of minutes on their teams, educating fans on the importance of rest.
During the tournament, two unlikely athletes were able to capitalize on big time moments.
The first being Doug Edert, who helped lead the 15th seeded Saint Peters Peacocks to a historic Elite Eight run. During this run Edert capitalized by signing a NIL Deal with Buffalo Wild Wings. Another unlikely deal came from an athlete, but not on the court. During the Saint Mary’s vs. Indiana first round game, a ball got stuck on top of the hoop. When nobody could get the ball down, Indiana cheerleader Cassidy Cerny saved the day by getting the ball down. Days after the game, BreakingT signed a deal with Cerny creating a shirt to encapsulate the moment.
Five popular basketball players have been taking advantage of the new NIL rules. Azzi Fudd, Zia Cooke, Paige Bueckers, Hailey Van Lith, & Paolo Banchero all have over four deals and more than 250k social media followers.
State Farm, Nissan, GEICO, and Continental Tire are still alive in the Final Four. These four brands have a sponsorship deal with all of the remaining teams.
Insurance, Auto and Finance have the most assets, this is twice as much as the next category, Healthcare. There are nine insurance brands with deals ties to the remaining four teams, deals in this category are led by State Farm and GEICO. The leading category, Auto, has 10 brands with deals. This category is lead by Continental Tire which has the most total deals.
The four remaining teams, on average, have 28 sponsorship deals per team. Leading the group is the Kansas Jayhawks with 31 deals, followed closely by Villanova with 30. Going head to head in the Final Four are long time rivals Duke and North Carolina. Duke beats UNC in regards to total sponsorships with 28 deals compared to UNC’s 23. The average amongst the rest of the NCAA Schools & Conferences is nine. There are over 2,400 brands buying sponsorships within college basketball across 280+ different schools/conferences. State Farm not only is top for the Final Four, but also across all teams, while GEICO and Nissan each make the top five.
Over 115 brands have taken advantage of signing a men’s college basketball player to a NIL deal since granted access in July 2021. Mercury NFT claims the #1 overall spot with 11 total NIL deals. The brand’s college portfolio includes Dontaie Allen, Keion Brooks Jr., Davion Mintz, Jacob Toppin, TyTy Washington, along with Coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats.
Rounding out the top four spots are Morgan & Morgan (10 deals), FTX (7 deals) and Raising Cane’s (7 deals). 48% of Morgan & Morgan’s total sponsorship deals are with collegiate basketball players while FTX continues to expand their portfolio across numerous colleges and leagues during the 2021 and 2022 seasons.
The technology category has over 30 endorsements within the NIL space with NFT’s accounting for nearly 50% of tech category deals. Ranked by sub-categories in technology, NFT is second after Non-Athletic Apparel/Footwear. Cryptocurrency is 5th as brands lean on the younger generation to promote the blockchain technology that has recently revolutionized the technology industry. Instagram is the most utilized social media platform by these athletes as it beats out Twitter in terms of the number of branded posts.
10 of the Kentucky Wildcat players have landed in the top 30 for NCAA men’s basketball players in terms of NIL endorsement deals. Here is the full list of the top athletes with 5 or more endorsement deals:
Ranked by total sponsorship deals, banking and restaurants/event space lead categories in deals with NCAA Schools & Conferences. These top two categories are the only two categories to have over 500 deals within the NCAA, while banking brands are the clear leaders having over 40% more sponsorship deals than any other category.
The retail category expanded their portfolio with over 100 new deals within the NCAA this year, more new deals than any other category.
PNC Bank led the banking category in total sponsorship deals, followed by US Bank and Wells Fargo. These brands dominated this category each sponsoring almost 50% more NCAA Schools & Conferences than any other brand..
The restaurants / event spaces category was led by Buffalo Wild Wings who was the only brand in the category to have sponsorship deals with 20+ schools. First Watch was the biggest emerging brand in the restaurants/event spaces category signing sponsorship deals with 7 schools in 2021. Currently, 45% of all of First Watch’s sponsorships are with NCAA schools/conferences, including the Kentucky Wildcats and UCF Knights.