March Madness: How Much it Costs to Follow Your Team in the NCAA Tournament

photo:Logo Resources
photo:Logo Resources

Warning-If you don’t follow NCAA basketball and March Madness, you might be better off reading about something like The A-Z of Saving Money!

Today is the start of NCAA March Madness. I have to admit, this year’s tournament is a bit melancholy for me. My beloved Kentucky Wildcats have fallen all the way from being 2012 NCAA champions to not making the tournament this year. One and done really sucks. What 19 year old needs to be playing in the NBA?  I digress. Another reason it sucks is for retailers, because Kentucky Wildcat fans travel in droves and spend all kinds of money. SEC tournament host cities always pray that Kentucky makes the final because the wildcat fans are crazy and will buy anything blue in sight. One of my goals someday is to follow my team through the tournament or at least attend a Final Four. How much would it cost to follow your team in the NCAA tournament?


NCAA website tickets for early rounds start at $50, but no true fan is going to sit in the nosebleeds. I would ball park at least $500 for tickets up to the Final Four. After that, all bets are off. You could get lucky and score a deal, but I would estimate $300-$500 for Final Four tickets.


Unless you are a college student who wants to road trip and sleep on couches, you could end up shelling out another $2000 or more in air fare, hotels, and food. There are so many variables depending on where you live, but I think this amount is reasonable.

Time Off Work

To see every game and travel, you’d have to take about a month off work. Most bosses might not be that understanding, which makes being financially independent all the more important if you want to be a fanatical basketball fan. If you have two weeks of paid vacation, and you take two weeks unpaid, let’s ballpark losing $2500 in wages.

Who Could Ever Afford to Follow the NCAA tournament?

It would take a very rich or very dedicated person to spend the $5000-$6000 it would cost to follow your team, but what an experience. If you grew up being a Kentucky Wildcat fan, there is nothing better. I’ve been to a few SEC tournaments and early round NCAA games, and being a part of the Big Blue Nation is truly priceless. It will be a while before I’m able to follow my team all the way, but someday I certainly hope to do so. Let’s hope when I do they actually make the tournament!

Some Fun Mascots from the 2013 NCAA Tournament

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers– Western is my alma matter, and I always pull for them unless they play against Kentucky. Big Red is their mascot. No one really knows what Big Red is, but he is a red version of the old Grimace character from McDonalds. He has gotten some fame over the last few years on ESPN.

South Dakota State Jackrabbits-Because nothing screams fear and intimidation more than a rabbit!

Oregon Ducks– I knew ducks were scary. They can peck your eyes right out, and ducks outfitted from Nike are super fast.

Harvard Crimson-Really, they let the smart boys in and kept Kentucky out? This isn’t the knowledge bowl. What even is a crimson?

You can tell I am pouting a bit, but I will watch as much March Madness as I can. I’ll be pulling for whoever plays Duke.

We don't get over stuff very well.
We don’t get over stuff very well.

Who are you pulling for in the NCAA tournament? Any non-Kentucky fans know who Laettner was?

Written By
Sydney White is a Texas-born stay at home mom who enjoys spending time with her family, bargain hunting and, of course, writing. She is currently the editor-in-chief of


  1. My favorite time of year! Wow, it is amazing how fast the costs add up. The only time I have gone was when the early rounds came to Sacramento and I could drive to the games and not have to pay for hotel.

    KY was not all no-name scrappers, Mashburn was a stud and a good pro!

    1. You’re right about Mashburn. He did go all the way. It’s like of like telling a story that keeps getting more and more outrageous. I’m sure you could find some old hillbillies who would say Kentucky didn’t even have shoes and had to walk to the game. I just remember Laettner kicking Deron Feldhaus when he was on the ground. The ref had his back turned, but the camera caught it.

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