As we publish our ranking of college basketball fan base support across the “power” conferences (AAC, ACC, Big 12, Big 10, Big East, SEC, & PAC 12), we can already hear the abuse we are about to take on Twitter and through the media. Our rankings are based on a statistical analysis of self-reported revenue data. We create a statistical model of revenue as a function of team quality (winning percentage, NCAA tournament qualification, etc…) and market potential (conference affiliation, median income, area population, number of students, etc…) and then compare the model’s prediction to the self-reported revenues. Yes, we get that this self-reported revenue data can be a bit quirky, but it’s what the schools choose to report.
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.
Our overall top 15 schools are listed in the table below. Louisville repeats last year’s 1st place finish. The rest of the top five are Duke, Arizona, Texas and Xavier. Other notables include Kentucky in 7th, North Carolina in 11th and Indiana in 12th. We fully realize that Kentucky fans will once again be incensed by these rankings.
Strictly speaking, the fan equity rankings are probably most appropriately done within each conference due to conference revenue sharing, but it seemed like more fun to do a simple list of the top schools. At the other end of the spectrum, we have the bottom finishers in each conference (based on conference affiliation in 2013-2014). In the ACC, the data says that the worst fan base is Boston College. In the Big Ten, Iowa is in the cellar. The last place fan base in the Big Twelve is Baylor. Seton Hall just beats out DePaul for last place in the Big East. Colorado is last in the Pac 12. In a surprise, given their recent success, it appears that Florida basketball still ranks after football and spring football as sports that the Gator nation cares about. And finally, at the bottom of the AAC we have the Cincinnati Bearcats.
Mike Lewis & Manish Tripathi, Emory University 2014.