Who Makes NCAA Basketball Tournament Team Jerseys? Nike Leads Way With 47
Due to the riveting displays of athleticism that its constituents annually offer to the nation, the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament leads many hoops followers to succumb wholeheartedly to March Madness, with the heroics of the 68 invitees fostering additional pride in the colleges and universities. The competition also serves as a major marketing tool for the companies that outfit the contenders, and, just as is usually the case with those orchestrating the hardwood action, the cream has risen to the top, as Nike (47), dwarfs Adidas and Under Armour (10 each) in total uniform contracts, with Russell Athletic accounting for the final agreement.
In cutting down figurative nets, the Oregon entity is adding to its immensely lucrative annals, and with the tournament having begun last night with two contests and taking off in earnest tomorrow, Nike will certainly be hoping for long runs from such titans as the universities of Kentucky and North Carolina, as well as the pageant’s top overall seed, the University of Virginia, all of whom have relied on the Swoosh provider for years. As the Portland Business Journal reported, a great run for the last member of that trio would be especially beneficial to the Cavaliers, as Nike has set aside bonuses that would complement the staggering amount of financial and equipment assistance that it already provides.
While the tournament field often consists of the same blue bloods and a slew of reputable peers, we will always see an oddity or two among the participants, and this year’s collection of clubs—which indeed includes some outliers—certainly led to an increase of seven schools under Nike’s wing for this season as compared to last campaign. The 47 hopefuls wearing its jerseys and sneakers provide Nike with its best tournament total in three years, leaving Adidas, whose top gun is the University of Kansas, and Under Armour, whose main draw is the University of Cincinnati, to wonder what they could do to keep their contemporary from continuing to register annual blowout wins come tourney time. In fact, along with Virginia, Nike is also outfitting two of the other No. 1 seeds, Villanova and Xavier universities, during their hopes of winning the championship game set for April 2 in San Antonio.
As fans across the country complete their brackets, many of them will be calling for upsets, while others will be hoping that seeds hold. With 69 percent of the combatants in its fold, Nike figures to win either way, unless, for example, a non-Nike bigwig like Kansas or a serious underdog like New Mexico State University goes ahead and plays the spoiler. Let the madness, in all its unadulterated glory, fully begin!