Behind the Storefront: Why fans may be dressed in Kentucky and Duke gear Monday even if Wisconsin and Michigan State reach NCAA final

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Some bad news for Michigan State and Wisconsin fans: Their respective Final Four foes, Duke and Kentucky, are getting hot at just the right time. In merchandise sales, that is.

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Duke University merchandise is the current top seller in 17 states, based on online sales from Saturday through Tuesday on Fanatics.com, which calls itself the biggest retailer of licensed sports merchandise. (Fanatics Inc., formerly under the eBay EBAY, -0.42%  umbrella, counts Alibaba Group BABA, -0.79%  among its investors and operates the retail websites of major professional sports leagues including the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL.)

But Duke takes a back seat to the University of Kentucky — whose team, of course, is undefeated and entered the tournament, and remains, a heavy favorite for the national title — in terms of overall sales beginning Saturday, Fanatics data show. It declined to specify actual sales.

Kentucky’s merchandise is the hottest seller in 15 states, followed by Michigan State University, whose gear is No. 1 in 13 states. Sales of University of Wisconsin apparel has been the biggest seller in only five states, data from Fanatics showed.

Outpacing a broader retail trend, Fanatics data showed that more than half of all purchases of Final Four team merchandise since Saturday have come via mobile phones and tablets.

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