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USATSI

The NCAA Tournament got underway on Thursday and there was no shortage of terrific action on display. However, one thing on the court had people very perplexed.

Fans who thought that they were noticing brighter orange basketballs being used are correct. The NCAA Tournament is using Wilson's Evo NXT game ball, which has not been used in past tournaments. According to a press release in June 2021, Wilson Team Sports general manager Kevin Murphy announced that this particular ball was the "highest caliber" of basketballs. 

Murphy stated that Wilson worked with the NCAA and several of its schools to create a ball that has "an extra layer of grip," and is "easier to shoot from long-range." As far the brighter than usual color, that is an intentional design by Wilson to have "better on-court visuals and detection."

Wilson's Evo NXT balls were approved to be used by college teams during the 2021-22 season but NCAA rules permit home teams to make the decision as to what brand and model of basketball that they use for games. And most of the time, those home teams pick a basketball branded by the company they have an apparel deal with.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban even commented on the more colorful basketballs.

Cuban's comments weren't exactly well-received by Wilson. Wilson's director of sales Dave White responded to Cuban's tweet.

"I can guarantee you these aren't $5.99 basketballs," White replied. "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."

Even if the performance of these new basketballs is much improved, it's clearly going to take fans a little while to get used to the bright orange shade.