With all eyes on this year’s March Madness tournament, we’ve compared each US city to determine the very best (and least favorite) college basketball locations.
All eyes have turned to March Madness, the annual month-long NCAA basketball tournament that brings the very best university teams together for guaranteed excitement and high drama. But with 64 teams competing for the ultimate prize, where in America can you find the best NCAA basketball locations?
Comparing all US cities that have either two college basketball teams or at least one championship title, we’ve ranked each to reveal the best cities for college basketball fans to experience live NCAAB action, considering their teams’ historic success, stadium capacities and average attendances, and Google search volume.
Which are the best NCAA basketball cities?
Read on to see where your favorite teams rank…
Taking the top spot among the best college basketball towns, we have the Connecticut city of Hartford, with a total index score of 3.405 out of 7.
This is largely down to the success of the University of Connecticut’s women’s team, who have recorded an incredible 11 championship titles and 22 Final Four appearances, both of which are records in college basketball.
Next up, we have Los Angeles, home to the UCLA Bruins, with an index score of 3.230.
The city’s high ranking is owed to the success of the men’s team, who’ve registered 11 wins and 21 Final Four appearances – no other men’s team has a better NCAA record.
Third, we have Chapel Hill, where the North Carolina Tar Heels men’s team matches the UCLA Bruins for Final Four appearances.
The average fan attendance of NCAA games in Chapel Hill also ranks among the five best US cities.
Meanwhile, the Kentucky city of Lexington takes fourth. Though there are two schools in the city, the high ranking is thanks to the success of the Kentucky Wildcats, with the men’s team boasting an incredible 8 wins and 17 Final Four appearances.
Interestingly, the combined average attendance during the 2021/22 season of Lexington’s two teams, the Wildcats (19,338) and VMI Keydets (1,509), are higher than in any other city (20,847).
Rounding out the top five NCAA basketball locations, we have Philadelphia, with an index score of 2.933. Despite being home to six colleges, the city can only boast a combined four NCAAB championship titles, with three of those coming through the Villanova Wildcats.
However, Philadelphia stadiums do have the highest combined fan capacity of any US city (49,354).
Which Are the Least Popular Cities for College Basketball Fans?
Turning our attention to the other end of the table, the worst city for NCAA action is Seattle, with a lowly index score of 0.026. With just one college basketball team, the Washington Huskies, the city has only registered one Final Four appearance. However, interestingly, with over 300,000 Google searches for the school, Seattle ranks among the 15 most popular NCAA cities – Gainesville (2,106,500), Eugene (1,419,500), and Providence (1,168,200) take the top three spots.
Next up, New York’s Brooklyn (0.063) is the second-worst city for college basketball, behind Spartanburg (0.113), the Bronx (0.138), and Boston (0.148), none of which can claim any Final Four appearances or championship titles.
We’ve looked at the best NCAA basketball locations, but which cities can claim to host the most successful men’s college teams?
Behind the UCLA Bruins (11), Kentucky Wildcats (8), and North Carolina Tar Heels (6), the Durham-based Duke Blue Devils have won the joint-fourth most titles (5), tied with Bloomington’s Indiana Hoosiers. However, the Blue Devils have reached the Final Four more than twice as many times (17) as the Hoosiers (8).
Meanwhile, Lawrence’s Kansas Jayhawks and Hartford’s UConn Huskies have won four championships apiece, ahead of the Louisville Cardinals (3) and Villanova Wildcats (3).
When it comes to women’s college basketball, championship success is spread out slightly differently.
Taking the top spot as the best city for women’s NCAA action, we have Hartford, with the UConn Huskies boasting a record 11 titles, followed by the city of Knoxville, where the Tennessee Lady Volunteers have won 8 championships.
Meanwhile, the Stanford Cardinals and Waco-based Baylor Bears have earned three titles apiece, ahead of the UCLA Bruins (2), Columbia Lions (2), Notre Dame Fighting Irish (2), and Ruston-located Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters (2).
With March Madness well underway, it’ll be interesting to see which US cities add another Final Four game to their record and which can claim to coveted title.
In the meantime, explore all the latest NCAA betting odds from our team of college basketball experts.
This dataset ranks 65 cities across the US, with each city having either two or more college basketball teams and/or hosting a team that’s previously won the championship. To rank the best NCAA basketball cities, seven factors were considered:
- Championship wins (male): The number of championships teams from that city have previously won.
- Final four appearances (male): The number of times teams from that city have reached the Final Four.
- Championship wins (female): The number of championships teams from that city have previously won.
- Final Four appearances (female): The number of times teams from that city have reached the Final Four.
- Stadium capacity: The total capacity across all college basketball stadiums in that city.
- Google search volume: The number of Google searches for each team over the past 12 months.
- Average attendance: The average attendance at each game in each city during the 21-22 season.
Once the factors were collected, they were then normalized to give each factor a score between 0 and 1. The normalized values were then summed to give each city a total score out of 7, with the cities then ranked from highest to lowest based on their total scores.
The data gathered is correct as of 03/21/2023. The most recent data possible was used. Where data wasn’t available, a score of 0 was given.
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