Strutting to success: How the Peacocks’ tournament run financially changed the sports world

St. Peters did what nobody expected them to do – win.

Okay, that’s not entirely true.

Of the over 17 million brackets submitted to ESPN’s Bracket Challenge, only 4.4% of all brackets had the Peacocks even winning one game (roughly 748,000).

Only about 51,000 people picked St. Peters to make the Elite 8 (0.3% of all ESPN brackets). Every single 16 seed was a more popular pick to make it that far. In the end, the Peacocks cemented themselves in March Madness lore forever.

However, St. Peters’ deep tournament run didn’t just knock out elite teams like the Purdue Boilermakers and Kentucky Wildcats. This Cinderella story has massive financial implications both right now and for years to come.

It’s no surprise that St. Peters can’t finically compete with teams like the Wildcats. The Peacocks spent $130 million less in overall athletics than the No. 2 seed they just bounced.

Additionally, St. Peters’ operating budget for basketball was the lowest in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) at just $250,000.

According to an ESPN article by Pete Thamel, the run by the Peacocks would net the MAAC around $6 million. Notice, the MAAC gets to distribute the money, not St. Peters.

Even though the Peacocks did the heavy lifting of getting past multiple Goliaths in their path, schools like Rider, Fairfield and Marist all stand to benefit greatly from this run.

The automatic bid nets the conference about $2 million (roughly $340,000 paid out yearly for six years). Therefore, an extra three wins changed the expected total to just over $8 million.

This kind of funding for programs like St. Peters can’t be understated, especially given the fact the Peacocks gym fits just 3,200 fans.

Funding means renovations, scholarships, salary increases, etc. All of these things can revolutionize a program.

However, if you aren’t heavily involved in the MAAC, this probably doesn’t matter as much to you. But, one thing that could impact millions of sports fans worldwide is the potential changes to the sports betting landscape after this madness.

The Peacocks were an afterthought to most filling out their brackets. After the first night, they became a trending topic and a team that decimated millions of predictions.

At the start of the tournament, St. Peters found its odds to be around 10,000-1. After three wins, those odds jumped to 40-1.

Long odds are great for sportsbooks until the events happen. In another ESPN article, David Purdum noted a bet was placed on the Peacocks as national champions for $4,000 at 200-1 odds.

If it hit, the payout would be $800,000.

This crazy run could be either dangerous or beneficial for sportsbooks.

St. Peters’ trip to the Elite 8 could inspire millions to place bets on long odds. If the average fan thinks they found the next St. Peters, they could bet money on something almost guaranteed not to happen.

Different gambling books could benefit by offering higher odds with greater potential payouts.

Sportsbooks would stand to benefit from these crazy bets – unless teams like the Peacocks stop becoming an anomaly.

If low-seeded teams continue to make deep pushes and knock off top squads, oddsmakers would lose more and more based on the odds they provide. If there continues to be a surge in underdogs advancing, sportsbooks may offer less-enticing odds to cover themselves more.

The Peacocks’ success could change sports gambling’s bylaws – especially in New Jersey.

Sportsbooks in New Jersey can’t offer bets on colleges inside the state. 

The Peacocks weren’t even an option to win the East, which created an interesting situation in the Elite 8.

Requiring a winner and with St. Peters, not an option, North Carolina became the de facto “best finisher” in the region. Even if the Peacocks would have won, betters would have already secured a payout with the Tar Heels.

This would have created a situation where large amounts of money were paid out to a loser deemed a winner on a technicality.

After etching their names into basketball history, the Peacocks’ deep strut through the tournament could have major ramifications on the sports world going forward.

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