Cinderella Runs By FAU, San Diego State Lead to Massive Social Media Gains, Study Shows

Last Updated on April 5, 2023

Florida Atlantic University’s shocking run to the Final Four of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament broke brackets, entertained viewers and put the university on the map for big-time athletics. The ninth-seeded Owls outlasted Memphis and 16 seed Farleigh Dickinson, then upset their section’s top remaining seeds, four seed Tennessee and three seed Kansas State, to seal a trip to Houston.

Though their Cinderella run was spoiled in a buzzer-beating fashion by San Diego State, FAU emerged as one of the best underdog stories in March Madness history. And along with the wins, the Owls have massive social media gains to show for it.

According to a study by Betway through the tool Socialblade, FAU ranked first among all March Madness teams in percentage of Instagram follower growth. The Owls grew their Instagram following by more than 64 percent, adding 13,980 followers. Second place? Another Final Four finalist shocker, the San Diego State Aztecs, who downed the Owls on Lamont Butler’s game-winning jumper. SDSU picked up 25,050 new followers, for a gain of almost 50 percent.

The eventual champions, the UConn Huskies, also made the top five. The Huskies’ gain of 18,390 followers boosted their total count to over 100,000 for an 18 percent boost. The Miami Hurricanes and Kansas State Wildcats rounded out the top five, each gaining 20 percent or more followers. Six programs exceeded 10,000 new followers, with the sixth place Texas Longhorns also making the cut.

In total, 25 programs participating in March Madness grew their following counts by at least one percent. All four one seeds — Houston (8th), Alabama (10th), Purdue (16th) and Kansas (20th) — ranked in the top 20, though in a historic and surprising turn, none of them advanced past the Sweet Sixteen.

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