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The Price of Pride: How Much NCAA Fans Need to Switch Sides

Matt Satell

March 21, 2024

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College basketball fever is sweeping across the country. The NCAA tournament is not just a series of games - it’s a nationwide spectacle. Alma maters are passionately supported, bracket busters are out in full force, and the thrill and love of the game unite fans across the country. 

We dove deep into the heart of this madness with a comprehensive survey to test fans’ loyalty to see their favorite teams and find out if their allegiance could be bought.  

We surveyed 1,500 college basketball fans to find out how much they would need to be paid to wear different types of sports apparel donned with their archrival’s logo. Digging deeper, we also wanted to find out how much fans were willing to bet on the NCAA tournament and how much of an influence our sports rivalries have on our love lives. 

Key Findings

1. North Carolina Tar Heels and Duke Blue Devils are the most popular college basketball teams 

2. Almost 1/5 of respondents would need to be paid more than $500 to wear their archrivals jersey 

3. 60% of respondents would not go to work in their archrival gear even if offered $500

4. 68% of fans are planning to bet on the NCAA tournament 

5. Nearly one in five potential bettors are willing to place a bet of $1,000

6. 27% of women would question marrying someone who supported their archrivals 

Top 10 Most Popular NCAA Basketball Teams

We first wanted to uncover which teams capture the hearts of fans the most. 


Unsurprisingly, the two titans that are North Carolina Tar Heels and the Duke Blue Devils emerged as the most popular, commanding an impressive 11% of fan admiration each. But what makes these two college teams so popular? 

Carolina has cemented its status as a powerhouse in college basketball, boasting a legacy of seven national championships, six NCAA National Championships, and one retroactive title. This illustrious history underlines its consistent dominance and tradition of excellence in the sport.

Similarly, Duke has etched its name among the elite, claiming five national championships while making it to the title game on six additional occasions. Known for its prestigious program, Duke consistently nurtures top-tier talent year after year, maintaining its position at the pinnacle of college basketball.

Close behind came UCLA Bruins (3rd), Ohio State Buckeyes (4th), and the Michigan State Spartans (5th). 

Yet beneath these allegiances, only 32% of fans actually attended the college of the team they root for.

As we dive deeper into college basketball and the passion the fans have for their teams, it’s the stories of teams like the Tar Heels and Blue Devils that remind us that at the core of every game and every championship, there are two things: people and passion. 

Wearing The Enemy

Imagine the electric atmosphere of a college basketball game, where the air buzzes with rivalry and the stands are a sea of team colors. In the world of college sports, an 'archrival' isn't just another team. It's the name that brings boos from the crowd and sparks fire in the athletes' hearts, a rivalry steeped in history and intense competitions that fans reminisce about for years.

So we posed our respondents this question: What’s your price to cross the line and wear the gear of your most despised rival?


We broke our question down by different types of apparel, such as jersey, t-shirts, and hats, wondering if fans are more likely to wear a less conspicuous item of clothing. 

The responses were as fiery as a last-second game-winning shot. 29% of fans declared they'd need more than $500 just to consider wearing their archenemy's jersey. Even more surprising, 18% stood firm that not even $1,000 could make them betray their loyalty.

Amongst our respondents who declared themselves as ‘Extremely Passionate’ for college basketball, the stakes are even higher. 29% of these die-hards wouldn't switch sides and wear their rival’s jersey for less than $1,000

Armed with this knowledge, we're now plotting the ultimate prank for the next bachelor party. We're gathering our funds – it's time to see just how deep these rivalries run. 

Not Worth It 

How far would you go for $500? Could you don an outfit entirely composed of your archrival team’s logo? 

Yes, head-to-toe in the colors and logos of the very team you've spent seasons rooting against. The question isn't just where you could go, but rather, where would you have the guts to show up dressed as the ultimate fan... of the opposition? 


While 52% of respondents wouldn’t dare to wear rivals gear ‘head to toe’ at a family event, 60% would refuse to wear it to work - even for $500! 

And you can’t blend into the crowd walking around your favorite team’s campus, which is why 61% of respondents said that is where they would never dare to go out in rival apparel. You might find yourself coming up against a full-court press of your own if you tried that! 

Are you the brave soul at the game, the office rebel, the family wildcard, or the campus crusader? Or is there another battleground where you'd wave your rival flag proudly? 

Betting Breakdown

The stakes have never been higher than in this year’s March Madness. Last year, according to the American Gaming Association, 68 million Americans through their hats into the ring, wagering a colossal estimated $15.5 billion on the 2023 NCAA tournament. With NCAA fever running hot, we’re likely to see numbers unlike any we’ve seen before in 2024. 

We turned to our respondents to gauge their excitement and intentions for this year’s March Madness.


A whopping 68% of our respondents plan to bet on the NCAA basketball tournament drama. Within this group, 23% reported being comfortable betting up to $101-$500 on their predictions. 

While just 13% of all respondents would feel comfortable betting $1,000 and a minuscule 4% would be willing to bet $25,000+, if we venture west, we encounter more of the high rollers. The West region stands out with 29% of likely bettors willing to bet $1,000+ on the tournament, while 13% would be comfortable going all in with bets exceeding $25,000

Til Death Do Us Part 

March Madness brings with it a battleground of friendly banter and playful jest. But let's take a moment to dive deeper. Beyond the cheers, the high-fives, and the spirited debates, lies a question that might seem laughable at first, yet, upon reflection, reveals the depth of our passions and the boundaries of our affections. Would the allegiance to a sports team ever sway your heart's decisions? 

We wanted to understand how deeply sports affiliations can influence our personal relationships, so we posed an intriguing question to our respondents: Would you ever question the promise of forever with someone who roots for your beloved team's archrival?


20% of men said “no” or “not sure” to whether they’d marry someone who rooted for their favorite basketball team’s rival. Surprisingly, an even higher percentage of women (27%) would question marrying someone based on their fandom.

This revelation sheds light on a fascinating dynamic: the intersection of sports loyalty and romantic decisions. Interestingly, it appears that women, often stereotyped as less invested in sports rivalries, actually hold their team allegiances closer to their hearts when it comes to matters of the heart.


In the whirlwind of NCAA March Madness, the loyalty of college basketball fans is unmatched, with their passion and love for the game extending far beyond the court. 

From the willingness to wear an archrivals jersey, t-shirt, or hat for a price, to the impact of sports loyalties on personal relationships and betting behaviors, this survey has shed light on the relationship that fans have with their beloved sport. 

As the teams battle it out on the court during March Madness, fans across the nation are united in their love for the game. At the heart of every dribble, shot, and cheer lies a shared passion that transcends rivalries. 

It’s safe to say that for college basketball fans, the price of pride is high. 


The survey was conducted by OnePoll in March 2024 with a sample size of 1,500 American adults, screened for those who are fans of college basketball. The respondents identified as 48% women and 52% as men. The age demographics were 18 to 26 (29%), 27 to 42 (46%), 43 to 58 (20%) and 59 to 77 (4%).

Matt Satell

About the Author

Matt Satell is the Director of Ecommerce for RushOrderTees. He's a passionate Philadelphia sports fan and proudly owns more t-shirts than one should reasonably have.