As college basketball’s premier event draws near, attention turns to data like record, NET rating and RPI.

But before the brackets are built (and busted), Forbes took a look at which schools lead the way in a different statistical category: value.

Using three-year averages, the magazine broke down the revenues and profits of the top-twenty most valuable collegiate basketball teams. Perhaps surprisingly, college teams near the top of the list are more profitable than even some professional franchises. Take for example, the University of Louisville, who despite being mired in off-court controversy of late is still No. 1 on Forbes’ list, with a three-year average revenue number of $52 million and a three-year average profit of $30.4 million. Despite all that the team has faced in recent months, its $23 million in profit last year put Louisville’s program higher on the list than the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Charlotte Hornets.

Those profits are generated via a number of revenue streams; ticket sales, apparel deals, royalties, sponsorships, boosters, and perhaps most importantly — television. The Forbes analysis found that total media revenue accounted for about a third of total revenue from the teams that made the list.

Other teams topping the list include the University of Kentucky, Indiana University, Duke University, the University of Kansas, the Ohio State University, Syracuse University, the University of Arizona, the University of Illinois, the University of Wisconsin, the University of North Carolina, Michigan State University, the University of Maryland, the University of Arkansas, the University of Michigan, the University of Texas, North Carolina State University, the University of Tennessee, Marquette University and the University of Alabama.

Interestingly, the NCAA payout for successful tournament runs is not a large factor contributing to team’s bottom lines. Forbes points out that while deep runs are great for raising a team’s profile and contributing to things like TV revenue, merchandise and sponsorships, the cash payouts the NCAA doles out for advancing in the tournament are actually minimal, because they’re spread over a period years and shared with conference members.

 

Jason Scott is Online Managing Editor of Athletic Business.