More than one million Facebook users in the U.S. have liked a page for one of the 68 teams in this year's NCAA tournament field. Michael Bailey, an economist on Facebook's Data Science team, has mined the data to create the most accurate geographic representation of college basketball fandom ever created -- all the way down to the county level.
Shields first looked at the entire country by conference affiliation, confirming the ACC is the most dominant conference in the East and the South.
He then examined the four regions individually, plotting the 17 schools from each section of the draw. The takeaways stand to reason: Gonzaga enjoys sprawling support throughout the West; Indiana, Marquette and Illinois are jockeying for support in the Midwest; everyone loves Duke and North Carolina.
Shields then plotted maps for the four No. 1 seeds -- Gonzaga, Indiana, Kansas and Louisville -- with the Hoosiers enjoying a slight advantage in volume (despite the Jayhawks' formidable geographic reach).
The No. 1 seeds
There's not too much to be taken away from Shields' maps of the lower seeds: the underseeded Oregon Ducks own the West, while the 16th-seeded Liberty Flames enjoy more support than you might expect.
No. 9 through No. 12 seeds
No. 13 through No. 16 seeds
Finally, Facebook examines three of college basketball's most time-honored regional rivalries -- Duke-North Carolina, Michigan-Michigan State and Kansas-Kansas State -- to determine to school which enjoys greater national support in the social space.
Thanks again to Michael Bailey and Facebook for the graphics