Basketball is king in North Carolina. That may be spreading now to South Carolina, as the Gamecocks clinched their first ever Final Four trip on Sunday. They’ll join the Tar Heels, who have now made the Final Four 20 times, more than any other school in country.
When it comes to the best cities for college basketball fans – a recent study shows North trumps South. The survey done by WalletHub has three North Carolina cities making the top ten. That Chapel Hill and Durham – numbers one and three respectively – are on the list isn’t much of a surprise. But coming in at number ten is Cullowhee, home of Western Carolina University. Criteria used in the study looked at wins and conference championships, and the Catamounts haven’t been helping their hometown there. They’ve put up losing records the past three seasons, and have never won an outright Southern Conference regular season title. West Carolina has only made the men’s NCAA tournament once, in 1996. But what puts Cullowhee so high is ‘engagement’ with fans. The study looked at social media followers and likes per capita. The Catamounts athletic department Twitter handle has over 13-thousand followers, and their Facebook page has more than 31-thousand likes. Cullowhee’s population is just under 10-thousand people. That math puts Cullowhee in rarified air in the survey, one spot ahead of New York City. The nine cities ahead of Cullowhee are home to schools that have a combined 118 Final Four appearances and 46 national championships.