Who are the Cockiest College Basketball Fans This March Madness?

By , March 13th, 2017

With March Madness soon tipping off, most sensible fans are scrambling to snag last-minute tickets and a cheap hotel for their first and second round games. Some fans–we’ll just refer to them as the Christian Laettners of fans–are already looking ahead in their bracket for a trip to the Final Four.

Using trivago data, we examined the Final Four’s demand in Phoenix and the fans most confident (read: cockiest) their team will be there March 31. Already, demand for the tournament is high. Two-thirds of both Glendale and Phoenix hotels are currently booked. Hotel rates in the two cities during Final Four weekend average $241/night in Glendale and $278/night in Phoenix, with pre-championship night prices averaging $310 and $286 for the night, respectively. For comparison’s sake, these rates are 47 percent (for Glendale) and 86 percent (for Phoenix) more expensive than a typical April weekend in those cities.

CityFinal Four Rate2016 RatePercent Difference


Search Period: February 27 to March 13

Note that these are just the prices at the start of the tournament. Depending on the draw and who reaches the Final Four, prices can quickly rise, sometimes even doubling overnight. If that’s the case, then, as is the tradition in college basketball, blame Duke.

That said, it’s not Duke’s fault hotels jack up their prices for special sporting events–well, maybe it’s partially their fault Greenville, SC hotels are 33 percent more expensive this weekend compared to last year. Based on trivago data, of the thirteen cities hosting the NCAA Basketball Tournament, twelve have raised their prices from their normal rate–based on last year’s prices during the same dates. Needless to say, a trip to Buffalo or Indy or Sacramento will cost a bit more than what you’d typically expect to pay in March.

CityPrice% Difference from 2016
Buffalo, NY$230/night+78%
Milwaukee, WI$170/night+36%
Orlando, FL$209/night+31%
Salt Lake City, UT$160/night+27%
Greenville, SC$183/night+31%
Indianapolis, IN$176/night+33%
Tulsa, OK$105/night+8%
Sacramento, CA$187/night+38%
Kansas City, MO$169/night+34%
San Jose, CA$174/night-4%
New York, NY$292/night+7%
Memphis, TN$142/night+14%
Phoenix, AZ$284/night+86%
Search Period: February 27 to March 13

Which fan bases are already thinking about splurging on a trip to Phoenix for the Finals?

We combined trivago data with Google Trends info, and, hardly a surprise, Kentucky and Kansas have shown the most search interest in the tournament since the bracket was announced on Sunday night. Both UK and Louisville march into the tournament with two-seeds. Both sets of fans obviously like their route to the Final Four, though potential match-ups against North Carolina and Kansas, respectively, could be crushing. For rivalry’s sake, Louisville seems a tad cockier than their Lexington neighbors, with just a hair more search interest.

Kansas finished second in swagger, with the University of Kansas (Lawrence, KS) and Wichita State (Wichita, KS) leading the state’s search interest. In a surprising twist, Iowa, barely beating out perennial contender (and surprisingly low-ranked) Wisconsin Badgers, come into the tournament quite confident that their fifth-seeded Cyclones will lead the state to the Final Four.

Perhaps the biggest surprise in this data might be that the state of North Carolina came in at eighth for March Madness search traffic. Eighth isn’t inherently surprising, but only when you consider that this is Tar Heel and Blue Devil country with first and second seeds respectively. If we expected anyone to be cocky, it’d be those fan bases.

The list of states with the top ten cockiest fans currently looks like this:

  1. Kentucky
  2. Kansas
  3. Iowa
  4. Wisconsin
  5. West Virginia
  6. Indiana
  7. Nebraska
  8. North Carolina
  9. Minnesota
  10. Arkansas
Searches as of March 13

We’re not stupid — we know none of this is hard science. There are too many outlying factors, and given the nature of universities, fan bases spread well beyond the campus. Yes, it initially seems odd that the state of North Carolina didn’t rank higher in terms of search traffic, but we can also guess that Duke and UNC fans aren’t searching as much because they’re both cocky they’ll be in the Final Four and, let’s be real, their alumni can drop the cash on a last minute flight and hotel.

Featured image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons