In January, Facebook dipped into its user data and put together the greatest NFL fan map we'd ever seen. Now they've done it again, mapping out county-by-county Facebook likes for the 68 teams participating in this year's March Madness. Michael Bailey broke down the data by conference, tournament region, seed, and rivalry, but we're most interested in the map he didn't show (but was kind enough to send our way). All 68 teams, straight up. Who is most beloved, and where?
With 68 colors (actually 51—more on the unpopular teams in a bit) across 3,140 counties, this map can be a little tricky to read. For a much larger version, click here.
The Lockstep Midwest:
There were 13 states in which at least 80 percent of all counties rooted for a single local team. Eight of these states were in the Midwest, a part of the country that doesn’t pussyfoot around with its sports fandom. Indiana, the mecca of amateur basketball, gets the clean sweep: all 92 of its counties went Hoosiers. In Illinois, only tiny and traitorous Alexander County at the very southern tip of the state went against the Illini, supporting Indiana instead. The University of Wisconsin lost six counties to Marquette, The University of Michigan lost just seven(!) to Michigan State, OSU lost four to Cincinnati and Akron, plus a surprising six more to rival Michigan, and Louisville lost five to WKU. (These two teams have maddeningly similar colors. If you open the map in Photoshop and root around, I promise you that the WKU counties are in there, around Bowling Green.)
While Minnesota and Iowa have just one team apiece in the Dance, a scattering of counties still defected to various out-of-state schools.
This accord in the Midwest is very similar to what we saw in Facebook’s NFL fan map, and I think it's revealing of just how strong and deep state sporting identities can be in this part of the country, especially given the dominance of large public universities. The other five states that had this sort of consensus were Washington (100 percent for Gonzaga), North Carolina (96 percent for UNC), Kansas (90 percent for KU), Arizona (87 percent for Arizona), and New Mexico (85 percent for UNM). Syracuse was close, pulling in 77 percent of New York counties, followed by Ole Miss, with 63 percent of Mississippi counties.
Out of the 68-team bracket, only 17 schools had zero counties support them. Just five of these teams were 12-seeds or better: California (12), Belmont (11), Temple (9), Notre Dame (7), and Saint Louis (4). The Fighting Irish and the Owls get a pass, since I would have been shocked to see any county in Indiana go against the Hooisers, and Villanova is clearly the fan favorite of the greater Philadelphia area. Belmont and Saint Louis are mid-majors. That leaves Cal as the most baffling: the prestigious public university didn’t manage to snag even one of the eight counties that make up the Bay Area. One went to also-local Saint Mary’s, six went to Kansas, Duke, or UNC, and San Francisco, for some reason, went to Michigan.
The other 12: La Salle (13), New Mexico St. (13), South Dakota St. (13), Valparaiso (14), Davidson (14), Northwestern State (14), Harvard (14), Iona (15), Pacific (15), Southern University (16), LIU-Brooklyn (16), and North Carolina A&T (16).
(The key to Facebook's master map seems to have left out South Dakota State altogether. But they are included in the South Regional map below, and win zero counties.)
The Terrible Northeast:
The Northeast is generally a college sports wasteland, and this year it's missing its two best hoops programs in UConn and Boston College. There are 72 counties in New England and New York City, and 62 of them (86 percent) are going for UNC or Duke. LIU-Brooklyn and Harvard, the only two teams to come out of this area, won zero support.
Of the remaining ten counties, three went to Kansas, two–both bordering New York–went to Syracuse, and, somewhat inexplicably, Cape Cod, Nantucket, and Manhattan (not pictured) broke for Indiana. Piscataquis County, Maine (pop. 17,535), went for Georgetown, and northeastern Vermont was undecided, because northeastern Vermont is just that torn about college basketball. (From the surrounding counties, it was probably between UNC and Duke.)
Shame on Oklahoma and Missouri:
While both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State made the Big Dance, these two schools only account for 20 of the state’s 77 counties (26 percent). Thirty-three counties went for Kansas (43 percent), while 15 went for Duke or UNC (19 percent). C'mon, the Cowboys are a five-seed!
Missouri is even worse. The Show-Me State is also sending two programs, the University of Missouri and Saint Louis. Saint Louis gets nothing, while the Tigers account for just three of the state's 114 counties (3 percent). That's fewer than went for Duke (five), Illinois (seven), UNC (13), or Kansas (78, or 68 percent). Butler, a mid-major two states away, picks up two counties despite not winning any in Indiana.
Below are the rest of Facebook's NCAA maps, and you can read some more analysis here. Enjoy!
Duke vs. UNC:
Michigan vs. Michigan State:
Kansas vs. Kansas State:
From Facebook. Special thanks to Michael Bailey and Sean Taylor.