What Sneakers Should We Expect for 2014 NCAA March Madness?
The NCAA March Madness tournament has long been an important marketing tool for sneaker companies. Ever since the tournament rose to televised prominence, different brands have vied for sponsorship deals with top seeded teams that ensure plenty of TV time for their basketball offerings that season (Nike co-founder Phil Knight even toyed with the idea doling out the money necessary to outfit every single Division 1 team with Swoosh gear back in the 90s in order to land an unprecedented level of brand ubiquity). These sorts of sponsorships allow the sneaker companies to present a much more unified vision than in the NBA – the squads in the Big Dance are compelled to stay within the lines of their school’s sponsorship deals, as opposed to NBA teams that usually consist of a mixture of individual endorsers wearing the sneakers of rival brands.
With Selection Sunday settling all the seeds into their respective brackets yesterday, we’ve now got a solid portrait of the brand breakup as far as schools are concerned. Nike and Jordan Brand lead the pack with 45, adidas comes in second with 18, and Russell Athletic and Under Armour round the pack out with 4 and 1, respectively. More teams for any given company doesn’t necessarily mean time in the spotlight though – there is also the seeding of the teams to consider (Last year adidas Basketball was also second place to Nike/Brand Jordan but they ended up with an all-adidas finals in the Louisville/Michigan match). With that being said, the Swoosh is looking good in that regard as they’ve got all the #1 seeds locked up. adidas is also looking strong towards the top though – they’ve got three of the #2 seeds. Take a look at the full bracket and read on to see what sneakers you can expect to see beginning today.
Source: Sporting News
Nike Basketball’s Best and Brightest
The Hyperdunk model has been the unofficial college hoops shoe, and this year should be no different. Sprinkled in the mix should be a steady dose of the Hyperrev and the low-top Zoom Crusader, but expect some signature models like LeBron 11 and KD 6 to get some action from the more high-profile schools. The question is – what team will debut a PE colorway of the Kobe 9 Elite or even the Kobe 9 Low? Duke is looking like the frontrunner in that regard.
adidas Basketball Goes Deep
adidas may not match Nike in number, but they’ve got plenty of quality on their side. With two #2 seeds repping the three stripes brand, we could very well see another Final Four rich in adidas gear. The D Rose 4 and 4.5, the Crazy Light 3, and even the new Crazy Boost sneaker could get a debut in the coming weeks.
Jordan Brand Is a One-Man Show
So only one team is represented by Jordan Brand, and thats the UNC Tar Heels. But despite the single coverage, you already know that MJ’s alma mater is going to bring the proverbial “it” with special PE colorways of the Air Jordan XX8 SE, Jordan Super.Fly 2, and Jordan CP3.VII.
The Air Jordan Retro Wild-card
As we mentioned before, only one team is represented by Jordan Brand. However, the Retro is different beast, and any player from any of the 45 Nike/Jordan teams can lace up in their favorite Retro Jays. If they were to opt for some of the better recent drops, what can we expect? The Infrared duet of Air Jordan 6 and Air Jordan 3 looks like a big one, but don’t count the Gamma Blue 11s and Powder Blue 10s either.
Under Armour Has Room For Growth
College Hoops is definitely a new category for the fast-growing brand. They made some noise with the St. John’s deal, but this year, they’ve got just one team vying for the Championship. Whether or not SF Austin is a one-and-done team is yet to be determined (they’re the magical #12 seed), but Under Armour Basketball, as whole, can’t be ignored and the Anatomix Spawn should continue to gain steam even after the Tournament ends.
Unexpected Surprise: Russell Athletics
So the age-old brand called Russell Athletics hasn’t been relevant with sneakers, but with one-sixteenth of the entire pool repping the R logo, they deserve a notice (even if it’ll be just once). However, the teams representing them have been in Nike fear, so it looks as if the Russell spotlight will be on their jerseys only.