Every year as March approaches, we field inquiries about the schedule for the NCAA March Madness Tournament and how to best prepare for it. Unfortunately, every year we respond by explaining, it’s really just the first two days of full field play that can be called madness. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare or promote to get as much from the event as possible. Check out our recent blog with some new ideas for promoting the NCAA Tournament.

What makes the tournament great before it starts is also what slows it down as it progresses. With 68 teams making the cut, there is hardly a place in the US that doesn’t have a stake in the tourney before the first tip-off. Unfortunately, once play concludes on Thursday and Friday, that number dwindles to just 32 teams, and by Sunday it’s down to a measly Sweet 16. This is why we caution our operators not to overreact to the scheduling and prepping for volume, even after the first round is complete.

How to Prep for Your March Madness Volume

Your first and best step is to check your sales from the last year and the year before. Below you can view the full schedule from 2016 and 2017. Go through your historical sales data and compare those dates from a sales perspective. The times have been consistent the past couple of years and we are confident they will be the same this year.

If you can view your hourly results on those days, you can even peg your volume to teams that might have offered a greater local interest in your location. For example, if your location is the Duke bar then you are likely to have been far busier during their games. This is excellent data to help you make smart choices on staffing and ordering.

2017 March Madness Schedule | 2016 March Madness Schedule

Be sure you’re a SportsTV Subscriber to get the up-to-date 2018 March Madness TV schedule as it’s released!

As far as the second and third weekends are concerned, the games are exclusively in the evenings for Thu/Fri/Sat. On Sunday they begin earlier and are over by 7pm. This means that you won’t be overrun, but that doesn’t account for games with local teams or of local interest. For those, you will need account for the affect. That is why we will provide a running schedule after each round to our SportsTV Guide subscribers to ensure you have the most accurate schedule available.

The National Semifinals and the Championship games will be solid performers, but again, they will be much bigger for you if your local team makes it that far. In the end, March Madness is less madness and more a first weekend crescendo followed by some steady extra volume that you can leverage to your advantage.

The more you do now to prepare and promote, the greater your results will be when the tournament tips off and guests come streaming in for the action.