MADISON/INDIANAPOLIS (WITI) -- We're four days away from the Wisconsin Badgers big matchup with the Kentucky Wildcats in the NCAA Tournament's Final Four -- and just one day away from the Badgers send-off pep rally at the Kohl Center in Madison. The hype surrounding the Badgers is contagious -- but it's so much more than just hype!
The Badgers making it to the Final Four for the second consecutive year is exciting -- but it all boils down to branding, and the benefits go way beyond the UW men's basketball team.
"I'm wearing red every day this week. I started Sunday," Jim Seibers said.
You could call Seibers a Badgers superfan -- but he's also an alumnus. He changes the Badgers-themed license plates for every member of his family every year.
"I'm going to watch the game with my father. He's 83 years old," Seibers said.
Seibers loyalty to the Badgers is the kind of loyalty and enthusiasm that fuels the NCAA Tournament. Companies pay big money to advertise during the tournament, and when teams reach the level the Badgers have, they benefit greatly.
"There's cash -- $19 million for winning the Big Ten tournament, $8 million for making the Final Four. I mean, that just powers the program and sustains the program," Brian Bennett, president of STIR Advertising said.
Bennett says the residual effects from making it to the Final Four are far-reaching.
"For the Badgers for instance, it's going to be easy for them to attract students. It'll allow them to raise tuition. They'll be able to recruit better athletes, which will beget more success. In the end, that powers their ability to do research and raises the profile of the institution as a whole," Bennett said.
In addition, a winning team encourages boosters and alumni to donate.
Bennett says the high profile of the sports team strengthens the University of Wisconsin brand, the region and the entire state of Wisconsin. He says success is attractive.
The Badgers face the Kentucky Wildcats in a Final Four matchup on Saturday, April 4th. Tip-off is set for 7:49 p.m.
Fans are invited to join the team for a FREE pep rally/send off at the Kohl Center on Wednesday. Gates will open at 5 p.m. The rally itself kicks off at 5:30 p.m. and will feature head coach Bo Ryan and the team.