Don’t adjust your TV sets just yet! The 2022 NCAA Basketball Tournament is ushering several interesting changes from prior seasons, and fans have been quick to point them out.
For starters, this is the first year that the title “March Madness” will apply to both the women’s tourney and the men’s. Second, the women’s tournament will be expanded to 68 teams, just like the men’s. But the third, and likely most notable difference, is this year’s game balls may be the most orange they’ve ever been.
One Twitterer guessed that the NCAA was promoting its partnership with Buffalo Wild Wings by having all the balls “soaked in bright tinted wing sauce before tourney games,” concluding with the tag #ballsobright. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban tweeted about his confusion after the Indiana Hoosiers win over the Wyoming Cowboys on Tuesday, saying those types of basketballs were probably sold at Walmart for $5.99.
But it turns out the basketballs’ bright orangey color wasn’t from wing sauce or inexpensive material from Walmart. Instead, it was the debut of the NCAA Evo NXT Game Basketball from the Wilson Sporting Goods Company. Officially named “The Official Basketball of NCAA March Madness,” the Evo NXT comes in Electric Orange, so hoopers don’t lose sight of the ball in low-light condition.
Dave White, Wilson’s Director of Sales, set the record straight on Wednesday. “We took the best technologies from the previous NCAA game balls, the best technologies from the Evolution basketball (the number one game ball in the world) and created the new ball that you see being used this year,” he replied to Cuban on Twitter. White also revealed that the March Madness game balls have the same construction as the ones used in the past WNBA season.
The Evo NXT was developed two years ago, but the NCAA version was created in June 2021 and approved for use in the following fall season. However, fans may not have seen it until now because home teams can use any basketball they want during the regular season, so they probably opted for the ones they already knew.
By the way, with a price tag of $89.95, the NCAA Evo NXT Game Basketball sells for a bit more than Cuban thought. Watch the video above to learn more about “The Official Basketball of NCAA March Madness,” and you can buy your own game ball by clicking here.
Photo: Icon Sportswire / Getty