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Why do the March Madness basketballs look so bright this year?

It's not just you...the 'electric orange'-colored basketballs at the NCAA tournament this year look brighter than past years. Here's what's going on.

WASHINGTON — With the start of March Madness, one topic has been getting a lot of unexpected attention: The brightness of the basketballs. 

If you've watched any of the games in the NCAA basketball tournament so far and thought "wow, those basketballs seem really bright" or asked yourself whether your TV settings might be messed up, you're not alone. 

A lot of people have been turning to social media for answers or just to sound off on the change. One twitter user joked it was all part of a sponsorship with Buffalo Wild Wings and that the basketballs "have been soaked in bright tinted wing sauce." 

The difference is pretty noticeable right away. For example, here's what the old Wilson basketball looked like during last year's tournament. 

Credit: AP
Abilene Christian's Coryon Mason (20) moves the ball up the court during the first half of a college basketball game against Texas in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis Saturday, March 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

And here's one shot of the new ball during the first round on Thursday. 

Credit: AP
Tennessee forward John Fulkerson (10) passes over Longwood guard Isaiah Wilkins (1) during the second half of a college basketball game in the first round of the NCAA tournament in Indianapolis, Thursday, March 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

And here's a rack filled with the new bright orange March Madness basketballs (sunglasses maybe recommended before viewing). 

Credit: AP
A rack of Wilson NCAA basketball used during Villanova's NCAA college men's basketball team practice at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Thursday, March 17, 2022.

So what exactly is going on with the basketballs? 

Last June, Wilson Sporting Goods Co. and the NCAA revealed the "Wilson Evo NXT" that would be used for the NCAA men's and women's basketball championships. While the release noted the basketballs were approved to be used during games starting in Fall 2021, there's a chance teams hadn't used these specific balls before. That's because NCAA rules allow home teams to choose whatever brand basketball they want to use during the regular season. 


Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, tweeted that he thought the balls "looked like the $5.99 specials from Walmart and seemed to bounce and be hard to control like them too."  

Wilson director of sales Dave White chimed in and said "I can guarantee you these aren’t $5.99 basketballs." 

"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," White explained in a tweet

Credit: AP
A rack of basketballs is court side as Loyola Chicago goes through shooting drill during practice for the first round of the NCAA men's college basketball tournament, Thursday, March 17, 2022, in Pittsburgh.

Wilson was a bit vague about what exactly that new technology was when they announced the NCAA ball back in June, saying that it's "revolutionary extended-range tech optimally balances the weight of the ball, with advanced internal construction, making the ball easier to shoot from long-range."

As for the color, that is definitely different. Wilson calls it "Electric Orange" and explains online that its meant to deliver "better on-court visuals and detection. You will not lose sight of the ball in dark backgrounds."

Credit: AP
Villanova 's Nnanna Njoku (22) runs a drill during the NCAA college men's basketball team practice at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Thursday, March 17, 2022.

If you're looking to pick up one for yourself, it's definitely going to cost you more than the $5.99 price tag Cuban suggested. Right now the official NCAA version is going for $89.95 on Wilson's website.

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