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  1. Jo’s Guide to Picking Your Bracket - Part 3: MOST POPULAR TEAMS

    In the last two installments, I shared some insights about how StubHub ticket demand and driving distance to the tournament games could be used to find a unique Final Four grouping, but today I’m going to analyze the brackets in much more straightforward manner. These lists are the most popular teams of the 2011-2012 college basketball year both at home and on the road, based on total tickets purchased on StubHub. I think you’ll find some more familiar faces on here.

    Not surprisingly, three of the four No. 1 seeds all lead the way in home ticket purchases throughout the season, and Michigan State is also in the Top 10 hometown teams. It’ll be interesting to see if this demand correlates to how many fans are at their tournament games, even those located some distance from the school. We’ll be able to tell which school has the most die-hard travelling fan base after this tournament is over.

    Top-Drawing Home Teams throughout the season (based on tickets purchased)

      1.  North Carolina

      2.  Syracuse Orange

      3.  Kentucky Wildcats

      4.  St. John’s

      5.  Kansas

      6.  Ohio State

      7.  Michigan

      8.  Michigan State

      9.  Indiana

      10. Georgetown

    Top-Drawing Road Teams throughout the season (based on tickets purchased)

      1.  Syracuse

      2.  Duke

      3.  Ohio State

      4.  Kentucky

      5.  Connecticut

      6.  Marquette

      7.  Illinois

      8.  Notre Dame

      9.  Louisville

      10. North Carolina

    With the Final Four in New Orleans, it’ll be interesting to see whether or not the Top-Drawing Road Teams will also draw well at the Final Four. Obviously, this list doesn’t have much relevance when it comes to the Final Four as all the teams “draw” well. But by having fun with it, let’s predict which teams would make the Final Four based off the top drawing road teams. Following this format I’d have to pick a Final Four of North Carolina, Duke, Marquette,and Syracuse Ohio State. There’s no way you think I’d pick Syracuse after Fab Melo’s suspension, did you?

    Data is also rolling in from Final Four ticket sales and so far it looks like Kentucky and Syracuse fans are hedging their bets. Out of all states to have purchased tickets to the Final Four, the majority is obviously people from nearby Louisiana and Texas, but buyers from New York and Kentucky represent the next two states with 8% and 7% of ticket sales purchased respectfully. This data is based off a combination of both strip and individual package sales.

    I’m curious to see if that New York percentage decreases based on the Fab Melo news this week. I bet Syracuse fans start to proactively sell their tickets now that it’s looking like Syracuse’s Final Four chances have significantly decreased. It’s also worth noting that North Carolina only represents 3% of purchased tickets so far despite having both North Carolina and Duke in the field as favorites. I will tell you that I’m heading out to Charlotte for a meeting on the Monday after the Final Four and I could not find any flights to Charlotte that day from New Orleans. I have a feeling that despite our numbers, the Big Easy will be plenty represented from the Tar Heel State.

    Good luck to everyone filling out their brackets today. There were some wild play-in games last night and it should only serve as an indicator for things to come. I’ll be checking in throughout the tournament to see how everyone’s picks are doing and to give an update on ticketing trends at the different games sites. Have a great Tournament everyone!

  2. Jo’s Guide to Picking Your Bracket - Part 1

    March Madness is here at last! The brackets were unveiled yesterday and as soon as the match-ups were announced, fans across America began scrambling to fill out their brackets. Fortunately for those of you who aren’t quite sure how to make your 2012 picks, I’m here to provide tips to help you gain an edge in your office pool.

    Let’s face it, picking the Final Four is pretty random. Last year, out of the 5.9 million brackets filled out last year on, only TWO brackets had the correct Final Four. So, it’s safe to assume that picking all No. 1 or No. 2 isn’t going to get you that perfect bracket you desire. Maybe StubHub can help make sense of March Madness. This morning, I dove deep into StubHub’s wealth of ticketing data to pull some interesting facts about this year’s crop of schools to see if we can figure out who could be left standing at the Final Four in New Orleans. This is the first of three installments as I provide a guide to alternative theories of bracketology.

    Quick shameless plug: If you haven’t checked out the March Madness Challenge, I strongly urge you to sign up. StubHub partnered with numberFire and Thrillist. You have the chance to win $100,000 as well as other great prizes!


    Since we’ve established that it’s fairly hard to accurately predict the Final Four, I wanted to see if we could use StubHub ticketing statistics to make a more accurate prediction. One of the ways I approached this is by looking at ticket statistics from 2011’s Final Four teams and finding comparisons to teams in this year’s field. We took the number of tickets sold on StubHub throughout the entire season and tried to find four teams that roughly featured the same profile as the teams from 2011. We crunched the numbers of tickets sold per school and found our list of 2012 Final Four teams.

    In 2011, we had two established powers in Kentucky and Connecticut, mixed with two mid-major schools in VCU and Butler. You can see the vast gap between schools. Butler was aided from the fact that 2010 was their first Final Four run. If not, their ticket sales in 2011 would’ve been considerably lower.

    2011 Final Four – Reliant Stadium, Houston, Texas

    East: Kentucky – 8200+ tickets sold in 2010-11

    West: Connecticut – 7000+ tickets sold in 2010-11

    Southwest: VCU – Less than 100 tickets sold in 2010-11

    Southeast: Butler – 650+ tickets sold in 2010-11 

    We then looked at the different regions in the 2012 bracket and found four comparisons that would create a Final Four with regular season team ticket sales similar to the 2011 teams. Here’s our Final Four predictions based on our ticketing data:

    2012 Final Four Prediction – Mercedes Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana

    East: #11 Texas — 8000+ tickets sold in 2011-12

    West: #4 Louisville – 7000+ tickets sold in 2011-12

    South:  #5 Wichita State – Less than 100 tickets sold in 2011-12

    Midwest: #7 St. Mary’s – 650+ tickets sold in 2011-12

    These predictions have nothing to do with match-ups or seeding, just ticket sales that match the respective region’s Final Four team from last year. I don’t think anyone would choose these four schools on their own, but then again, no one chose Kentucky, Connecticut, VCU and Butler in 2011.

  3. Just Like We Predicted

    So the Big East Championship tonight comes down to the two teams we expected all along, Syracuse vs. Notre Dame. Wait, what was that?

    Let me start over. So the Big East Championship tonight come down to the two teams we weren’t expecting all along, Cincinnati vs. Louisville. The Bearcats did the impossible and upset Syracuse, while Louisville routed the Irish to earn their spot in the Finals. Take nothing away from these two teams, they’re playing the best basketball in the whole conference. I suppose it’s somewhat fitting that with the ever-changing college conference landscape, the Big East Final comes down to two teams west of the Appalachian Mountains.

    The other big upset on Friday came in the Big 12 Conference, as the Baylor Bears knocked off one of the eventual #1 seeds in next week’s tournament, the Kansas Jayhawks. The Bears were an upstart team at the beginning of the year but fell off a little as the season wore on. It’s great to see this team step up on a bigger stage against a talented team. I’m specifically happy for their much-maligned star, Perry Jones III. An eventual top pick in June’s NBA draft, PG3 has received a good deal of criticism for his inconsistent play. Ever since I read Jason King’s fantastic profile on Perry Jones III and his struggles growing up, he’s now become someone I root for regularly. I think it’s important to remember that all the players in these games are still just kids with the weight of the world on their shoulders.

    Several of the conferences will finish their tournaments today, and the rest will wrap up tomorrow morning/afternoon. After that, we finally get to the good stuff: the brackets. I will be checking back in to give my thoughts on the bracket and see if we can use StubHub ticket statistics to make any sense of March Madness.

  4. Heartbreak Hotel

    I promise that future blog posts will have more upbeat stories from March Madness but so far the early rounds of the conference tournaments have been filled with nothing but upsets. Nothing hit harder yesterday than Northwestern’s overtime loss to Minnesota. The Wildcats have never made the tournament in the 111-year history of their basketball program and with this early round loss, it’s looking like they will be one of the first four teams out of this year’s bracket. We’ll find out for sure on Sunday but that’s a devastating loss. Poor Wildcats.

    However, in news that would make our CMO Ray Elias extremely happy, Texas significantly improved their chances to dance with a win yesterday against Iowa State. The Longhorns have been on the bubble all season long but it looks like that big win in the Big 12 Tournament will be enough. They play the nationally ranked Missouri Tigers tonight and if they can win that matchup, we can write them in that bracket with ink, instead of pencil.

    Friday is looking to be another great day for these conference tournaments and if the early rounds serve as any indication, we have no idea what we’re in store for. I’ll continue to watch the Big East Tournament since they keep giving me overtime classics, but the Big Ten, ACC, and SEC Tournaments are all worth checking out tonight and over the weekend.

  5. Not This Year…


    Another exciting year of Big East Tournament basketball is underway and it looks like the #9-seeded Connecticut Huskies will not be making a second improbable run to the Big East Tournament Championship. Wednesday, UCONN staved off a worthy opponent, the West Virginia Mountaineers, in overtime 71-67 but fell yesterday morning to the #1-seeded Syracuse Orangemen. It was a close game but the Orange were just too much to handle. And as soon as that game finished up, Cincinnati had just finished off Georgetown in a double-OT thriller. The Big East Tournament is the best.

     Wednesday also signaled a new era for the Big East. Temple held a press conference and announced that they will be joining the Big East in football next year and all sports by the 2013-2014 season. West Virginia, who is joining the Big 12 next year in all sports, has just played in its last Big East tournament.  With all the expansion and re-alignment going on in college athletics, it’s safe to say that this tournament will look drastically different next year. Enjoy it now while it lasts.

     All the other major conference tournaments played some early rounds games Wednesday, with a majority of them hitting the ground running yesterday. The Big 12 Tournament, which hosts a collection of great young, exciting teams, being one of them. I want everyone to keep an eye out for the Baylor Bears. They just beat Kansas State on Wednesday in what was an exhilarating, up-tempo matchup. You’d also be hard-pressed to miss this team, as they were debuting their new, special uniforms. Interesting color choice boys. 

    Remember that tickets for all these tournament games are available on StubHub, and judging by this picture from the Pac-12 Tournament in Los Angeles on Wednesday, there are plenty of good seats still available.


  6. The Wait is Over!

    You would think with 68 teams making the NCAA Basketball Tournament each season, no one would have to wait 66 years between trips to the Big Dance. But lo and behold, Harvard basketball found itself mired in a serious drought. But with UPenn’s loss on Tuesday to Princeton, the Harvard Crimson won their first Ivy League title since 1946! I remember the despair last year when Harvard lost a tie-breaking game to Princeton, but now there’s no need for any late season heroics. The Crimson are dancing! Between the NCAA Tournament and Jeremy Lin, this might be the best two months in Harvard basketball history.

    Tuesday also marked a special day for many as several smaller schools punched their ticket to postseason play. I’ve been impressed with the performances of some of these schools and it’ll be fun to root for these underdogs during March Madness. Now as the week progresses and the bigger conferences start their postseason tournaments, it’ll be interesting to see how they all play out.

    I also want to tip my hat to the South Dakota State Jackrabbits, a team that has been playing Division I basketball for only four full seasons. They beat Western Illinois to win the Summit League Tournament to earn their first ever trip into March Madness. With that win, the state of South Dakota gets off a pretty notorious list as now Maine and Alaska are the only two states that have never sent a school to the Tournament. Congratulations to the Jackrabbits!

    And remember, for any Crimson or Jackrabbits fans looking to catch their team in action, StubHub will have tickets for all the tournament games available as soon as they are announced on Sunday.

  7. The Prelude to Madness

    The NCAA conference tournaments are almost here. Just the sound of those words get me excited because, as any college basketball fan can attest, these tournaments can be as unpredictable and exhilarating as March Madness itself. And, at the very least, it’s a sign that the Big Dance is almost upon us!

    For those of you who are unfamiliar, each of the 31 NCAA Division I conferences (with the notable exception of the Ivy League) will partake in a post-season tournament to determine the conference champion. This is important is because the winner of each tournament will earn an automatic bid into March Madness.  For teams “on the bubble” or completely out of the postseason picture, these tournaments provide one last-chance to punch that valuable ticket for postseason play.

    While all conferences provide some breathtaking moments, there are several in particular that are huge sellers on StubHub and stand out above the rest. The Big East, Big Ten, and the SEC conferences stand to be the marquee events this season. Needless to say, the Big West tournament, which will prominently feature my 5-23 University of California Davis Aggies, didn’t make the list. But, there’s still several reasons why the Big East, Big Ten and SEC conferences are a must-watch!

    The Big East

    If you only have the stamina to watch one conference tournament, watch the Big East. This is annually one of the best conference tournaments in the nation, taking place with 16 teams over the course of five days in the historic Madison Square Garden. The tournament is also celebrating its 30th year at the Garden, the most ever at one site.

    Last season is a prime example of why these tournaments matter. Connecticut limped into the Big East Tournament ranked 9th in the Big East, and then proceeded to win five games in five days (a feat never done before), including four wins against teams ranked in the AP Top 25. The Huskies then used that momentum to win six more consecutive games in route to a third national title.

    The Huskies were also involved in one of the most memorable games in Big East Tournament history: a six-overtime 2009 thriller against Syracuse. As the dust cleared, UConn actually came on the opposite end of that 127-117, four hour marathon against the Orange, but it just goes to show you that the drama runs high at the Garden!

    This year is poised to be another classic for the Big East as the top-seeded Syracuse Orangemen look primed to continue their amazing season in route to a Big East Championship. However, Marquette, Georgetown, South Florida and the only team this year to defeat Syracuse, Notre Dame, stand in their way. Regardless, if you love college basketball, there’s no better atmosphere than MSG in March. And, check this out, guess who is currently ranked ninth in the Big East … that’s right, Connecticut. Anything can happen!

    The Big Ten

    Although relatively new to the conference tournament scene (first started in 1998), but still rich in history, the Big Ten Conference Tournament is another one to make sure you catch. If anything, the Big Ten Tournament has been a pretty good barometer of future March success. Out of the 14 years this tournament has been in existence, eight of its champions have gone on to reach the Sweet Sixteen. And for the first time, the University of Nebraska will join the festivities as the tournament grows bigger and better.

    This year may mark the most balanced collection of quality Big Ten teams yet, as the conference currently has five teams ranked above the Top 20. Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Indiana all have a realistic shot of winning this title. It also features several notable teams fighting for their tournament lives in Purdue and Northwestern. It’s worth saying that Northwestern has never made the NCAA Tournament. Ever. Here’s to hoping this is their year!

    Southeastern Conference

    Normally noted as a football power, the SEC also maintains a strong basketball presence. The conference boasts 12 teams, but most years it’s just 11 teams chasing Kentucky. The Kentucky Wildcats have won a staggering 27 SEC Tournaments and once again, the Wildcats are favored. Kentucky is ranked as the No1 team in the nation and has steamrolled through an undefeated SEC schedule. They boast a talented lineup of stars, including freshmen Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who I would recommend watching when you get a chance because both of those guys will be balling in the NBA next year. Hopefully on the Warriors!

    This year’s edition is going to be exciting to see if anyone can catch Kentucky. Several teams like Florida, Vanderbilt and Alabama, while certainly not as talented at Kentucky, are definitely positioned to catch lightning in a bottle and pull off the upset.

    The rest of the conferences have tournaments that are also worth checking out, especially to see which teams gets hot. A little homework now will pay off in a big way when you go to fill out your bracket in a few weeks. I’ll be back later in March to give you some of my favorite theories to help pick those brackets, with a little data from StubHub to back up those claims. I’m here to help everyone win those office pools! March Madness has always been one of my favorite times of the year and these conference tournaments will give all of us a little taste of the fun to come.