Every March, the NCAA Basketball tournament keeps Americans glued to their screens – TV, computer, smartphone, or tablet (and often multiple devices at once)  – while colleges and universities around the country compete to be named the NCAA college basketball champion. As March Madness tipped off last week, complete with its office pools and anticipated decrease in employee productivity, we were also keeping an eye on the games to monitor advertisers and social media chatter around the tournament.

While March Madness regulars North Carolina and Duke saw sizable social media engagement during the first round of the tournament, we were excited to see Northwestern, an institution close to 4C’s heart, rank highly in engagement and positive sentiment while getting its first NCAA tournament win.

As the field narrowed in the second round, overall social media engagement with the games increased, reaching a whopping 770,000 total engagements for Wisconsin’s surprise elimination of 1-seed Villanova.

While the games are the big draw, they aren’t the only thing social media buzzes about during March Madness. With arguably the most visually-present evidence of its NCAA sponsorship, Gatorade saw the biggest lift in social engagement following its ads during round 1 of the tournament. Capital One also saw a significant lift in engagement from its ads featuring Charles Barkley, Spike Lee and Samuel L. Jackson and a humorous take on Jackson’s iconic Snakes on a Plane.

When the tournament began, we looked into the top restaurants for people engaging with March Madness on social media. Wendy’s and Buffalo Wild Wings were among the restaurants with a strong connection to the NCAA audience. During the second round of the tournament, their ads continued to resonate NCAA basketball fans with their TV ads generating double digit lifts in social engagement for both brands during the second round of the tournament.

This weekend, March Madness heads into the Sweet Sixteen, and with bracket busters from the early eliminations of Duke and Villanova, it’s anybody’s game. We’ll be keeping an eye on the social media conversation around the tournament, so stay tuned for more Impact Reports, and subscribe to our newsletter to get the updates directly to your inbox.