By Barry Janoff
March 13, 2017: According to the saying, There’s no business like shoe business . . . especially if you feel as if those shoes can take you to the NCAA Div. I Men’s Basketball Championship.
Like The Beatles' Rubber Soul, Nike, adidas and Under Armour have the feet of this year’s NCAA March Madness schools covered with hits from start to finish.
Nike is the big leader, with 40 schools, followed by adidas at 15 and Under Armour at 12, with Russell Athletic outfitting Texas Southern, according to Eric Smallwood, president for naming rights, sponsorship and consulting firm Apex Marketing Group, St. Clair, MI.
Nike also has the nation’s top ranked women’s school, the UConn Huskies.
Although Nike has been aligned with the most schools, the brand lost eight spots versus 2015, according to Apex Marketing. Under Armour schools have six more spots versus March Madness two years ago, adidas four. (Russell Athletic had three schools in the 2015 tourney.)
Included on Nike’s roster are No. 1 ranked teams Villanova, Gonzaga and University of North Carolina (via a deal with Jordan Brand). adidas has Kansas, the other No. 1 ranked school heading into March Madness.
Nike is also strong among schools ranked No. 2, including Duke, Kentucky and Arizona. adidas has No. 2 ranked Louisville, according to Apex Marketing.
The financial numbers are on the rise for university shoe deals, especially among schools that get a lot of national attention on TV and from fans and marketers.
In May 2016, Under Armour signed a 15-year, $280 million deal with UCLA, regarded as the largest such deal in the category, according to industry analysts. It kicked in this season after UCLA’s pact with adidas had expired.
Nike has three deals considered among the largest in the category, including a 25-year, $252 million pact with Ohio State; a 15-year, $250 million alliance with Texas; and an 11-year, $169 million deal with Michigan.
Under Armour’s deals also include a ten-year, $90 million pact with Notre Dame; a ten-year, $96 million deal with Wisconsin; and a ten-year, $86 million union with UC Berkeley.
According to Nike, several of the schools on its roster will wear Air Jordan 31 Low’s from its March Madness collection, including UNC, Cal, Marquette, Georgetown and Michigan. Each shoe has the respective school’s name on the side and bottom.
Among adidas schools with tournament-specific shoes, Arizona State will wear the (James) Harden Vol. 1; Kansas the Crazy Explosive; and most of the other schools the Dame 3 (Damian Lliard).
And then there are the unique kicks, such as NCAA partner Pizza Hut’s Pie Tops, which were made in limited edition. The Pizza Hut Pie Tops are equipped with Bluetooth communication via a smart button inside the shoe tongue. The button connects the actual Pie Tops shoes to the user's phone and the Pie Tops app, allowing the user to press the button and instantly submit a pizza order.
March Madness Shoes By Brackets (Including Play-In Games)
No. 1 Villanova Nike v No. 16 Mt St Mary/NOLA Under Armour/Adidas
No. 8 Wisconsin Under Armour v No. 9 Va Tech Nike
No. 5 Virginia Nike v No. 12 UNC Wilmington Adidas
No. 4 Florida Nike v No. 13 East Tenn Nike
No. 6 SMU Nike v No. 11 Providence/USC Nike/Nike
No. 3 Baylor Nike v No. 14 New Mexico St Under Armour
No. 7 South Carolina Under Armour v No. 10 Marquette Nike (Jumpman)
No. 2 Duke Nike v No. 15 Troy State Adidas
No. 1 Gonzaga Nike v No. 16 South Dakota State Under Armour
No. 8 Northwestern Under Armour v No. 9 Vanderbilt Nike
No. 5 Notre Dame Under Armour v No. 12 Princeton Nike
No. 4 West Virginia Nike v No. 13 Bucknell Adidas
No. 6 Maryland Under Armour v No. 11 Xavier Nike
No. 3 Florida State Nike v No. 14 FGCU Nike
No. 7 St Mary's Under Armour v No. 10 VCU Nike
No. 2 Arizona Nike v No. 15 North Dakota Nike
No. 1 Kansas Adidas v No. 16 NCCent/UCD Nike/Adidas
No. 8 Miami Adidas v No. 9 Michigan State Nike
No. 5 Iowa St Nike v No. 12 Nevada Nike
No. 4 Purdue Nike v No. 13 Vermont Adidas
No. 6 Creighton Nike v No. 11 Rhode Island Adidas
No. 3 Oregon Nike v No. 14 Iona Adidas
No. 7 Michigan Nike (Jumpman) v No. 10 Oklahoma State Nike
No. 2 Louisville Adidas v No. 15 Jackson State Adidas
No. 1 UNC Nike (Jumpman) v No. 16 Texas Southern Russell Athletic
No. 8 Arkansas Nike v No. 9 Seton Hall Under Armour
No. 5 Minnesota Nike v No. 12 Middle Tenn Nike
No. 4 Butler Nike v No. 13 Winthrop Adidas No. 6 Cincinnati Under Armour
No. 11 KState/Wake Forest Nike/Nike
No. 3 UCLA Adidas v No. 14 Kent St Under Armour
No. 7 Dayton Nike v No. 10 Wichita State Nike
No. 2 Kentucky Nike v No. 15 North Kentucky Adidas
SOURCE: Apex Marketing Group