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St. Peter’s: The Big Numbers Behind Their Historic Strut to the Elite Eight

Peacock Nation grew exponentially over the last two weeks as St. Peter’s earned NCAA Tournament units, sold tons of merch, and made sportsbooks sweat in stunning fashion.

The thing about Cinderella stories is that the clock eventually does strike midnight.

That happened on Sunday when the St. Peter’s Peacocks saw their miracle NCAA Tournament run end at the hands of blue blood North Carolina in the Elite Eight. The 69-49 regional final loss was a stunning end to arguably the greatest underdog story in college basketball history.

Over the last two weeks, the Peacocks became:

  • The 10th No. 15 seed to beat a No. 2 seed (the tournament’s 1-to-16 seeding format began in 1985)
  • The third 15 seed ever to reach the Sweet 16
  • The highest-seeded team ever to reach the Elite Eight (previous: 12 seed)
  • The first team from New Jersey to reach the Sweet 16 since Seton Hall in 2000 (coincidentally, current St. Peter’s coach Shaheen Holloway led that Pirates team)
  • The first team from New Jersey to reach the Elite Eight since Seton Hall in 1991

But this run was about so much more than cool milestones. It made a real difference in the St. Peter’s athletic department, the university as a whole, and in the pockets of bettors and sportsbooks alike.

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The St. Peter’s NCAA Tournament Payout

By playing in four games’ worth of March Madness, the Peacocks earned four NCAA Tournament distribution units for the MAAC. While we don’t know exactly how much that is worth, one unit is estimated at $338,887 for this year, so the MAAC will receive around $338,887 x 4, or $1,355,548, as a tournament payout for each of the next six years (in addition to whatever other MAAC schools do in March over a rolling six-year period). Given that there are 11 schools in the conference, this run alone will give each school in the league $123,231.64 a year for the next six years. Doesn’t seem like much to you? Check out this thread about the Peacocks’ athletic facility:

If you want further context, SI reports that St. Peter’s’ operating expenses for men’s basketball totaled $257,871 in 2019. Their athletic department will now get an annual check until 2028 for almost half that, solely as a result of the last two weeks.

Marketing Value

After the Peacocks beat Murray State to reach the Sweet 16, Apex Marketing Group reported that the school had already received $71 million worth of publicity in March Madness. As The Action Network points out, that’s almost 10 times the department’s entire annual athletics budget, and that’s before you factor in their win over Purdue on Friday and another nationally televised game on Sunday.

As of Sunday, that number jumped to over $130 million. If you’re wondering, that’s 3.5 times the university’s entire endowment.

But that number is still theoretical. It will be a while before we know the total value of the Peacocks’ run, but we’ve seen some initial returns. Between their win over Kentucky and the day before the Sweet 16, the department sold $19,000 worth of merchandise through the athletics team store — a number that the university says could take almost a year to hit normally.

Then there’s Homefield, the wildly popular vintage college apparel site, which has been selling St. Peter’s shirts and joggers for one week. In that time, the company tells Boardroom, it has sold over 2,000 officially licensed St. Peter’s products, far outpacing sales for any other team in that span.

Hassan Drame of the St. Peter’s Peacocks during Sunday’s Elite Eight game against North Carolina (Ben Solomon/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

NIL Impact

Not only did the university’s visibility skyrocket during the run, but the St. Peter’s players directly benefited. There is no more obvious example than the mustachioed Doug Edert, who burst onto the scene with 20 points off the bench vs. Kentucky. Before the tournament started, he had around 3,000 followers on Instagram. Today, he has more than 40,000.

Since that Kentucky game, Edert has signed a deal with Buffalo Wild Wings and teamed up with Barstool for his line of Dougie Buckets apparel.

Edert isn’t alone, either. His teammate Daryl Banks inked a social justice-motivated deal with Dove, aimed at breaking the stereotypes that surround Black men.

Fighting the Odds

It’s no secret that sportsbooks dodged a bullet with the Peacocks’ loss to North Carolina. As the tournament progressed, St. Peter’s became an increasingly popular pick from sports bettors. When the tournament started, FanDuel Sportsbook gave St. Peter’s +50000 odds to win the national championship. By the time the Elite Eight rolled around, that had dropped to +3500. And in the regional final against the Tar Heels, most bettors were actually riding with the Peacocks — both straight up and against the spread.

FanDuel Sportsbook NCAA men’s basketball national championship futures odds entering the Elite Eight

When you look at just the Elite Eight game by itself, FanDuel reports that:

  • 75% of spread bettors took St. Peter’s (+8.5), accounting for 55% of the game’s total handle
  • 89% of moneyline bettors took the Peacocks, which made up 73% of handle.

So now the sportsbooks can breathe a sigh of relief as they make their modest payouts to the cowards who went with UNC (and Kansas over Miami, for that matter). With a blue-blood-heavy Final Four ahead, Duke is now the favorite to cut down the nets in Coach K’s final season.

Until next year, Cinderella.

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