The Value of March Madness

Midway through the second half of 16-seed UMBC’s historic win over No. 1 Virginia, CBS’s Jim Nantz reminded viewers that UMBC was short for University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

In becoming the first No. 16 seed to beat a top seed in NCAA Tournament history, the Retrievers were sure to be the talk of the tourney’s opening weekend. But thanks to a Twitter game that was savvy, hilarious and authentic, UMBC went even more viral.

Yahoo Sports and others shined a well-deserved light on Zach Seidel, the man behind the UMBC Athletics Twitter handle.

It would have been easy for Seidel, a 2012 UMBC grad, to just tweet what was happening on the court. In fact, according to Yahoo, Seidel normally doesn’t live-tweet during games, and he had a general game plan for the game. Inspired by a tweet from hoops analyst Seth Davis that gave the Retrievers no chance to win, Seidel ended up mixing game action with wit, humor and relevant information about his beloved alma mater.

As the Retrievers were capturing the college basketball and sports world, Seidel was winning Twitter: The UMBC Athletics Twitter handle had a following of about 5,000 before its game with Virginia on Friday; it had grown by 40,000 by the end of the night according to Yahoo Sports. As of late Monday morning, it had grown to more than 110,000.

Other stats:

UMBC’s magic ended Sunday night, but the Retrievers’ run likely will be felt by the University for years. On the court, recruiting just got a little easier. Off the court, applications likely will be on the rise as has happened with previous Cinderellas like VCU and George Mason, who saw big jumps in applications after trips to the Final Four.

Some of that wouldn’t have happened without Seidel – think about it, when was the last time a social media guy or gal tweeting a basketball game attracted coverage from The New York Times and CNN? His quick wit and authenticity ensured that UMBC had its “One Shining Moment” on and off the court.

Sean Ryan

A former print journalist, Sean joined The Hodges Partnership in 2003 and leads Hodges’ media relations team. He manages media relations strategy and helps place client subject matter experts on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and more. Sean regularly helps place op-eds in top-tier papers like the New York Times, Washington Post and USA Today.

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