ACC To Make Almost $35 Million from 2015 NCAA Tournament


This year’s big winner among Power 5 conferences in money earned from the NCAA Tournament is the ACC. The conference will make about $35 million in the next six years for their performance in this year’s tournament.

The NCAA distributes money to conferences based on how their teams perform in the NCAA Tournament over a six-year rolling period. In any given year, the NCAA pays a conference an amount of money known as an “NCAA Tournament Unit” for each game the teams from a conference play in the tournament in the most recent six years. (Championship games are excluded.)

This year, the value of an NCAA Tournament unit is $260,525, per this Forbes article by Chris Smith. So, for example, if ACC teams have played a total of 89 games in the last six NCAA tournaments (a made-up number, so no criticism in the comments field, please), the conference will receive a check for 89 x $260,525, or about $23.2 million.

This year, teams from the ACC played in a total of 21 tournament-unit eligible games. For the next six years, the NCAA will pay the ACC 21 times the value of a tournament unit, for their performance in the 2015 tournament.

The value this year is $260k, but that value goes up every year. According to Chris Smith’s article linked above, a single tournament game played will be worth a total of $1.65 million to the ACC over the next six years.

Multiply that $1.65 million times 21, and you get that the ACC will be paid about $34.7 million over the next six years for their 2015 tournament units. That’s $5.78 million per year for the conference, or an average of $385,000 per year for each of the conference’s 15 schools over the next six years. Multiply $385k by six, and you get a total value per school of $2.31 million over six years.

Here are the number of NCAA Tournament units earned (number of tournament games played, excluding the championship game) by each of the Power 5 conferences (and the Big East, since they received six bids) this year, and the estimated total value over the next six years of those units. The total value is then divided by the number of teams in the conference, which gives the total value per team over the next six years.

2015 NCAA Tourney Units

The only conference to come close to the ACC in total dollars was the Big Ten, which of course sent two teams to the Final Four (Michigan State and Wisconsin). And even after you factor in the number of teams in each conference, the per-school take by the ACC exceeds every other conference.

What about performance on the court? Follow the money: the ACC didn’t have the most teams in the tournament, but it had the most wins (by far) and the best record (table copied from Wikipedia).

2015 NCAA Tourney Record by Conference

Teams in the ACC have now won four of the last seven NCAA Tournaments.

  • 2009: North Carolina
  • 2010: Duke
  • 2013: Louisville (members of the Big East at the time)
  • 2015: Duke

ACC teams will, of course, be strong contenders again in 2016. ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi has released his first bracket for 2016, and it features seven ACC teams, including two #1 seeds: Virginia and North Carolina. Other ACC teams Lunardi projects to make the tournament are Duke (2 seed), Notre Dame (5), Louisville (5), NC State (6), and Miami (7).

Comments, criticisms, and corrections are welcome, in the comments section below.


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