The only thing better than your Twitter feed during the NCAA Tournament’s first weekend was the play on the court. There were GIFs, video, and up-to-the-minute updates. Most importantly, there was emotion. From the glory of victory, to the agony of defeat, social media teams expertly crafted and shared content that captured the highs and lows that make March Madness special.

Eliminating four of our first-round teams was a difficult task. Each team brought something unique to the table that went above and beyond expectations (shoutout to Maryland Basketball’s “Cribs” episode). The teams collectively put on a clinic for how to engage fans, showcase student-athletes, and provide potential recruits a look at their programs on basketball’s biggest stage.  Still, we had to choose our first-round winners. To make the call, our team dove into the social conversation from the first two rounds, made our own observations, and cemented the decision with a series of Twitter polls.

Social Media Madness: #SMSports Final Four#smsports Final Four

Congratulations to Kansas, Notre Dame, Indiana, and Maryland. Our team and the helpful poll-responders on Twitter determined that these teams stood out above the rest. Following this weekend’s Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight games, we will again analyze the teams’ social performance, and advance the top two contenders to the championship match-up.

First-round winners

KANSAS

The tournament’s number one seed didn’t disappoint on the court or on social media. KU Basketball executed before, during, and after the games, sharing custom branded GIFs, first-person player interviews, and video of the players letting loose during shoot around. 

Indiana

Indiana Basketball is a step ahead with high-quality imagery. Of the remaining contenders, Indiana appears to put the most weight on the quality and frequency of its media. It is rare for the account to share a tweet without an image, video, or GIF. Their team also seamlessly links Indiana’s legendary hoops tradition with the present, giving fans and potential recruits a look at what has been and what’s to come for the historic program.

Notre Dame

As we said in the first-round, Notre Dame’s social activity is all about family. Their Instagram feed offers a look not only into the program’s family aspect, but also into the journey of the tournament. They share candid shots of their players and, of course, the occasional buzzer-beater celebration.

#NotDoneYet

A photo posted by Notre Dame Basketball (@ndmbb) on

Maryland

The Terps just keep hitting their audience with unexpected and occasionally hilarious content. There’s no shortage of inspirational media or in-game pictures, but their unique content is what sets the Maryland accounts apart. Go to the Twitter feed to find Coach Mark Turgeon hitting half-courters and a hotel parody of MTV Cribs.