Which college has the best men’s basketball fans? That’s been a topic of more than a few bar-room debates, but the Emory Sports Marketing Analytics website thinks it has calculated the right answer. It’s the University of Louisville. For the second straight year,
Louisville topped Emory’s College Basketball Fan Equity list, followed by Duke and Arizona. What makes Emory’s list more objective than yours or mine is this: The group uses statistical analysis of revenue and compares that with
- Team quality, based on winning percentage, making the NCAA tournament and other performance factors and
- Market potential, based conference membership, campus and metro area population, median income of the surrounding area and other factors.
In other words, the Emory formula figures out how much revenue a program “should” generate based on its market and performance. Programs that generate revenue high above that total rank high in Emory’s list.
This is nothing new. In the days before Steve Spurrier took over as coach, The University of South Carolina was often cited as having one of the most rabid football fan bases in the country, based on a crude but logical metric: Year after year, Gamecock fans would flood Williams-Brice Stadium to watch a team that was usually under .500 and almost never made it to a Bowl game.
So if you took season attendance divided by season wins, South Carolina consistently had one of the highest numbers in the country. Something to be proud of if you’re a Gamecock fan, but a bittersweet honor, too. Kind of like Chicago Cubs fans, who haven’t won a title since 1908 or even hosted a World Series game since 1945.
South Carolina fans are probably happy to lose that status, thanks to three straight 11-win seasons. Emory’s approach, of course, is a lot more sophisticated and persuasive. As Emory puts it, “The key point in the analysis is that we are looking at support after controlling for team quality.
Some of our critics seem to think that selling out a 16,000 seat arena when your team regularly wins 30 plus games and makes deep tournament runs is amazing support. Reality check: pretty much any major school would be able to sell out under these conditions.”
Emory’s analysis isn’t perfect. For one thing, it relies on self-reported revenues; it’s impossible to know how the rankings might be affected if those revenue figures were audited. And, thank goodness, we can still argue the point by dismissing one measurement or another and substituting our own priorities.
Here are the top ten for 2014, along with their rankings for 2013 in parenthesis:
1. Louisville (1)
2. Duke (3)
3. Arizona (2)
4. Texas (6)
5. Xavier (not in top 10)
6. Syracuse (8)
7. Kentucky (7)
8. Arkansas (4)
9. Oklahoma State (10)
10. Pittsburgh (not in top 10)
Off the list from 2013: North Carolina (5) and Marquette (9)
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