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How March Madness Can Impact Card Values

It’s that time of year: March Madness is upon us. There’s no other playoff system in sports quite like it… anything can happen, and that’s what makes it fun.

As we get prepped for the excitement, today we’re going to dive into what to expect, storylines, past heroes, and how this year’s March Madness can change the card landscape.

An intro to March Madness

March Madness is the nickname for the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship, a single-elimination tournament that takes place every March and April, with millions of fans tuning in to watch the action each year.

The first NCAA men’s basketball tournament was held in 1939, with eight teams competing for the national championship. The tournament has grown steadily over the years, with the field expanding to 64 teams in 1985 and then to 68 teams in 2011.

“March Madness” became popularized as a name for the tournament in the 1980s since the tournament is by far one of the most unpredictable playoffs in sports, and along the way, March Madness has become a major cultural event, with fans across the country filling out brackets and competing with friends, family, and colleagues to predict the outcomes of each game. 

For Collectors, though, March Madness is more than just exciting basketball – it’s an early peek at the next great investments.

How does March Madness impact sports card value?

March Madness can have a significant impact on the value of sports cards, particularly for players who have standout performances during the tournament. A strong showing in March Madness can increase a player’s visibility and raise their profile in the eyes of collectors and fans.

The tournament is about showing what top players can do under the brightest lights: “Who’s made for the moment?” That sort of thing. Leading an upset or averaging 20+ ppts can turn the heads of NBA scouts, and that can directly translate to higher draft positioning

Conversely, a player who struggles during March Madness or fails to make an impact may see a decline in their draft stock. Do NBA teams really want to buy into a player who doesn’t perform well when it matters most? (The answer here for many is still “yes”).

Ben Simmons is a good example here. His LSU Tigers missed out on March Madness, causing a lot of talent scouts to ask whether or not he was worth the #1 pick since he didn’t seem to have a competitive fire. Now, look where we’re at. 

To make it even more exciting, this year has lots of March Madness stars featured in Bowman Chrome University basketball, along with other Bowman University products.

Overall, March Madness can be a highly volatile time for a player’s stock. It’s hard to directly make money off March Madness on the card market, but for many NBA fans, March Madness is the first glance at players we’ll be collecting for the next decade. Players like Steph Curry, SGA and Carmelo Anthony flew up draft boards thanks to March Madness success.

So who’s next up?

YouTube video

Top players to watch during March Madness 2024

College Basketball is in a bad place. The product has gotten increasingly weaker over the decade, plagued by one-and-done and very little player continuity running season to season.

For the big schools, you can’t get attached to any player too long before they’re gone, nor can you feel like you “get to know them” as a fan.

Adding salt to the wound is this year’s player crop. Much like last year, the 2024 NBA Draft class isn’t particularly strong. Worse still? Of the highest-ranking prospects on most current mock draft boards, none of the top 3 (Alexandre Sarr, Zaccharie Risacher, Ron Holland) are playing college ball. 

With that in mind, here are a few players to watch in March Madness 2024.

Reed Shephard, Kentucky

Reed Shephard continues to impress scouts with his outstanding performances, raising questions about his potential in the NBA. Despite his smaller stature and less-than-ideal athleticism, Shephard’s stats rival those of top-five pick freshmen, showcasing remarkable efficiency and production.

However, concerns linger about how his physical limitations will affect his transition to the next level. While some teams may focus on his measurements at the NBA combine, others see his effectiveness against tough NCAA competition and view his skills, shooting ability, and basketball IQ as valuable assets.

Zach Edey, Purdue

Zach Edey stands out as one of the most dominant college basketball players in recent memory, poised to potentially win back-to-back national player of the year awards. As a towering 7’4″ center, Edey leads various performance metrics, demonstrating his prowess in scoring, rebounding, and shot-blocking with remarkable efficiency.

However, his legacy could be marred by past March disappointments if Purdue fails to make a deep tournament run. With a stronger supporting cast this season, Edey aims to lead Purdue on a memorable postseason journey to solidify his place in college basketball history.

Dalton Knecht, Tennessee

Dalton Knecht emerges as one of the standout players in college basketball this season, following a remarkable journey from junior college to Tennessee.

The 6’6″ wing showcases his scoring prowess with impressive performances, including high-scoring games against formidable SEC opponents. While he excels as a three-point shooter, Knecht’s versatility extends to slashing, mid-range shooting, and drawing fouls.

His arrival offers Tennessee a dynamic offensive threat to complement their renowned defense under coach Rick Barnes, potentially elevating the team’s performance to new heights.

R.J Davis, North Carolina

R.J. Davis has become the driving force behind North Carolina’s resurgence this season. Following a disappointing absence from the NCAA tournament last year, the Tar Heels underwent significant changes, including key transfers and a shift in team dynamics.

With Caleb Love’s departure and new additions, Davis has emerged as the clear leader and focal point of the team. His exceptional performance, particularly as a prolific and accurate three-point shooter, has propelled North Carolina to prominence once more.

Davis has significantly improved his game by reducing turnovers, excelling at the free-throw line, and showcasing his playmaking abilities with a career-high assist rate. His impact has brought harmony and success back to Chapel Hill, cementing his status as a potential First-Team All-American.

Rob Dillingham, Kentucky

Rob Dillingham, a freshman guard for Kentucky, stands out as one of the most thrilling players in college basketball. His electrifying style of play, characterized by exceptional dribbling skills and dynamic shooting, makes him a captivating presence on the court.

Standing at 6’2″, Dillingham excels as a live dribble creator and pull-up shooter, often appearing to toy with opposing defenses. His creativity in ball handling, showcased through slick crossovers and hesitations, allows him to create scoring opportunities both from beyond the arc and driving to the basket.

Additionally, Dillingham’s adept passing adds another dimension to his game, as he consistently finds open teammates with lobs or kick-outs. While his game is flashy, Dillingham’s effectiveness goes beyond mere style, as he boasts a lower turnover rate compared to some of his peers.

With Dillingham leading the charge, Kentucky possesses the offensive firepower to outscore any opponent, highlighting his pivotal role in the team’s explosive offensive potential.

Kyle Filpowski, Duke

Kyle Filipowski of Duke has evolved beyond being merely a scoring threat. His true value lies in his versatility, a unique blend of shooting, passing, physicality around the basket, and switchable defense that sets him apart from other 7-footers.

While he occasionally showcases impressive ball-handling skills and face-up moves for self-generated offense, Filipowski primarily excels in making his team better through floor-spacing, adept post passing, interior presence, and perimeter defensive capabilities.

His ability to impact the game in multiple facets gives his frontcourt a distinct advantage and a different dynamic.

Tyler Kolek, Marquette

Tyler Kolek has emerged as the standout player for Marquette, leading the team’s impressive resurgence last season and earning them a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament.

However, with increased attention this season, Marquette is aiming for a deep tournament run to solidify their revival under coach Shaka Smart. Kolek epitomizes the ideal point guard, showcasing crafty scoring abilities across all three levels, exceptional playmaking in pick-and-roll situations, and tenacious defense on the perimeter.

His knack for driving into the defense consistently creates advantages for his team, and his ability to knock down spot-up shots adds another dimension to his game. Kolek’s combination of grit and skill makes him a dream asset for any coach heading into the tournament.

What are you most excited about for March Madness?

Who’s your pick to win it all? Which players are going to fly onto the draft radar? Let us know what you’re most excited about on Twitter @card_lines, and subscribe to our free newsletter right here.

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Jesse Haynes

Jesse Haynes

Jesse Haynes is the co-founder of Solaro Shades, an Amazon #1 Bestselling novelist, and a lifelong sports card collector. His nonfiction work has been featured in Forbes, Inc., MarketWatch and more. At CardLines, Jesse’s specialties are basketball and football cards, not to mention making informative video and Instagram content.
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