North Carolina succeeded in its quest for redemption following last year’s buzzer beater loss in the National Championship. Knocking off Gonzaga, a team earning its first trip to the Final Four and National Championship, the Tarheels claimed its 6th championship trophy generating over 1.7 million social engagements the day of the event.

Prior to the championship, North Carolina was the fan favorite on social media earning the highest number of social engagements among any of the teams in the Final Four. The Tarheels garnered 710,000 more social engagements than the runner-up Bulldogs. 

The championship game remained tight with 11 ties and 12 lead changes until the final minute when North Carolina managed to hold off the Zags. Neither team took a significant edge in terms of social engagement until the end when Isaiah Hicks put North Carolina ahead by 3 and a subsequent block by Kennedy Meeks led to a breakaway dunk for Justin Jackson. The final moment highlights were rebroadcast more than 800 times and drove more than 150,000 March Madness engagements.

While social engagement didn’t reveal the ups and downs of the game, social sentiment did. Sentiment reveals North Carolina fans grew a bit weary in the 1st half when Gonzaga took a 7 point lead. But, a quick start in the 2nd half Tarheels fans and raised sentiment.

College basketball fans were notably agitated in the 2nd half when frequent foul calls led to a choppy game. Event sentiment dropped to a 32% low when Gonzaga’s Karnowski was called for a controversial technical foul. From there, sentiment picked up with Zags fans remaining more optimistic until the final moments when the Tarheels claimed victory.

Throughout March Madness sponsors have been seeing their initiatives pay off with increasing lifts on social media as the rounds progressed. Capital One achieved a 70% lift in social engagement or more from its March Madness TV ads in every round of the tournament.

A couple brands used the NCAA Championship stage to make big statements. Hardee’s announced a new direction in its marketing, one focused on its food. The championship spot drove a 1,079% social media brand engagement lift. Meanwhile, Bud Light’s new ad, Happy Hour with Coworkers, continuing on the theme of “Famous Among Friends” achieved an astonishing 24,782% lift in social engagements for the brand. 

Though the NCAA National Championship brings March Madness to a close, we will continue to evaluate brands’ TV ads through TV Social Lift Impact. Check out the U.S. brands that drove the highest social lift with their TV spots in February through our partnership with The Drum and subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest 4C content in your inbox.