In any case, we thought it would be enlightening (or just plain fun) to compare the geography of basketball fandom around the country. Is there truly a Big Blue Nation out there and if so, what does it look like?
Inspiring this question was a map that comes from the Atlas of Kentucky (reproduced here with permission) that shows the distribution of men's basketball season ticket holders for the University of Kentucky (located in Fayette County) and the University of Louisville (located in Jefferson County). The differences between these patterns are quite striking with UK season ticket holders located throughout the commonwealth while Louisville fans are predominantly located in Louisville and the immediately surrounding areas.
UK and U of L Season Ticket Holders
We took Floatingsheep's collective wisdom about the teams most likely to make it to the final eight (no comment on how this compares to reality) and searched for the following eight keyword combinations within Google Maps at points within the United States. No doubt, fans of the underdog Butler Bulldogs may feel slighted by these choices, but who really predicted that they'd have made it this far? As for the Duke Blue Devils? We're still a little bitter over this whole thing (and this part, too).
- Kansas AND Jayhawks AND basketball
- "Kansas State" AND Wildcats AND basketball
- Kentucky AND Wildcats AND basketball
- "Michigan State" AND Spartans AND basketball
- "Ohio State" AND Buckeyes AND basketball
- Syracuse AND Orange AND basketball
- Villanova AND Wildcats AND basketball
- "West Virginia" AND Mountaineers AND basketball
NCAA Basketball Nations
The most far reaching fan base is that of the Syracuse Orange, although we suspect that since its mascot is also a color, the map may overstate extent of their popularity. That being said, the concentration of orange dots in New England makes perfect sense.
The most interesting comparison, however, is between Kansas State Wildcats and the University of Kansas, a contest clearly dominated by Kansas State, with the exception of the area immediately surrounding the KU campus in Lawrence. Hopefully this doesn't foretell another round of Bloody Kansas, but with nationalism it's always hard to tell. And aren't basketball allegiances the closest thing to ethnic identities, anyway?