Here’s a comprehensive map of March Madness fandom, based on Facebook data.

There’s a color for each of the tourney’s 64 teams--though only 51 are on the map. Some teams weren’t any county’s overwhelming favorite.

But many others, we see, have strong fan bases. In the midwest, where college basketball is taken seriously, fandom falls cleanly along state lines.

In the South, where football reigns and many big teams don’t make the tournament, favorites are more haphazard.

Read Deadspin’s very thorough take here.

Infographic: Facebook's Data Geeks Map March Madness

March Madness is here! This map shows where all the fans are.

March Madness, that exciting annual showcase of collegiate athleticism and fantastic three-week distraction from work, is upon us once again. If you’re like me and it’s really the only time you pay attention to college basketball, filling out a bracket is largely an exercise in picking which school name/mascot/city/state you like better. Except, of course, for your one favorite team, who you irrationally have going all the way. Everyone has that one team.

The map below, assembled by Facebook’s data science group, charts those allegiances for every county in the U.S. based on which teams Facebook users "liked" most. The results are surprisingly varied--and revealing.

Click to enlarge.

Some teams, we see, are nationally known brands. Most of North Carolina went for the UNC Tar Heels, sure, but chunks of Carolina blue can be found scattered throughout the country, all the way across to the West Coast. Smaller schools register smaller, local pockets of fans in their areas.

In the Midwest, where college basketball thrives, fandom is neatly partitioned by state lines--as Deadspin points out, only one county in Illinois didn’t turn out for the Fighting Illini, and in Indiana not a single county in the entire state went for someone other than the Hoosiers. That’s loyalty. In the South, where basketball is just that thing that happens in between football seasons (and where many big schools’ teams don’t make it to the tournament), the favorites are much more haphazard.

But while there are 64 teams admitted to the Big Dance, you’ll only find 51 different colors on this map. As it turns out, 17 schools in this year’s bracket, including Temple, Notre Dame, and Saint Louis, weren’t best loved by any county at all.

Deadspin has more analysis of how the fandom shakes out, and more maps can be found on the original post over at Facebook.

[Read Deadspin’s very thorough take here.]

Add New Comment

5 Comments

  • tjanderson

    Differentiating between all of the blues is next to impossible. A much more usable version would be an interactive infographic where you could click on the school(s) and it would highlight them &/or show percentages. Because as this infographic shows, all we really care about is our favorite team. I'd put money on the fact that most people who look at that map at some point look for 2 things, who do people like where they live, and more importantly, what areas of the US root for the same team as them. For example, my team is Boise State, and I want to know what pockets of the country (besides Boise Idaho) root for them. It looks like the southwest corner of Oregon, but I can't really tell with all of the Blues on the map.

  • Libby Hill

    South Dakota State University is missing from your key. They were a 13 seed and lost to Michigan on Thursday night.

  • OhTinyTony

    SDSU should have been interpreted as San Diego State University.

    SDSU, who was a #13 seed, did lose to #4 Michigan.

    I can't imagine what your bracket looks like.