The 2013 NCAA tournament bracket was unveiled on Sunday night, with Louisville earning the No. 1 overall seed. Not it’s time for fans need to give their team all the good luck possible, and hey, if that involves wearing jerseys, hoodies, warm-up pants, hats, sunglasses, shoes or socks, who are we to judge? As the beer commercial famously says, “It’s only weird if it doesn’t work.” And they don’t call it March Madness for nothing.
Local discount stores typically have a decent stock of standard logo shirts for sale, but budget savvy folks want to shop around to see if they can leave enough in their wallet to buy a beer or two at Buffalo Wild Wings (official hang-out of the tournament) during their team’s game. We recommend checking out these online sites for price comparisons:
CBS Sports Shop stocks merchandise for 500 universities, so chances are you’ll find the item you want here. Most schools have a sale section if you’re simply browsing. After all, your little Blue Devil fan will outgrow whatever you buy by the time a new season starts, so save a few bucks along the way.
The games may be shown on CBS, but that doesn’t stop other broadcasting outlets like Fox Sports from also competing for your wallet share. But here’s the secret: These two all dump into the same inventory provider and offer the same prices. ESPN Shop has a different inventory provider, so definitely check here to see if they carry an accessory you don’t find elsewhere, but at post time, it isn’t offering any sale merchandise.
The NCAA also operates an online store, and currently it has a $4.99 for 3-day shipping offer. This could be the way to go if you discover on March 17 that your team is dancing by March 21. These products, of course, are officially licensed. FansEdge is another big player with large selections, and it’s always a good idea to Google your university’s bookstore as well. It often has locally designed apparel with championship scores and other up-to-the-minute slogans.
Much of the officially licensed merchandise is produced by Nike or Adidas, but if that’s not a tag that matters to you, check around for jerseys made by Taylor. To the casual eye, they look as authentic but average $10 less than the competitors’ products.
Customizing your shirts can take more time than you have in March and drives up the price, but never fear. You can get the same professional look in 30 minutes in your own home. Grab a pack of EPC Film by Neenah ($11.97 for 12 sheets of white; other colors are available. One sheet typically can typically handle 4 shirts.) and use an electronic die cutter such as Cricut or Silhouette to cut out your word in reverse. (If you don’t have one of these machines, ask around among card-making and scrapbooking friends.) Avoid putting your favorite player’s name on the back; NCAA rules are strict on crossing that advertising line, but your own name, nickname or a “Go Zags” style slogan is fine. The transfer film says to iron for 60 seconds in one direction and 60 seconds in the other — this is far too much heat and time for a polyester jersey. The color will bleed through on the letters. Instead, run the iron over the letters for about 10 seconds and let it cool. You can always re-iron if the first pass didn’t set the film.
Good luck with your shopping, and your team’s draw.
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