Rick Pitino: State Of Kentucky Is Tops In College Basketball Popularity, Not North Carolina

When you think of where college basketball is most popular, what areas come to mind? 

Surely, Tobacco Road, home to North Carolina, Duke, North Carolina State, and Wake Forest. The Atlantic Coast Conference has long led the way in the college basketball world, and the conference’s heart is in the state of North Carolina. 

Rick Pitino thinks otherwise, though. 

In an interview with the Courier Journal, the Louisville coach discussed his program’s recent move to the ACC. During the Q&A, the topic of where college basketball is most popular came up. From the interview: 

If you look at the NBA draft, the rankings and the ratings, the city of Louisville was No. 1. Tobacco Road is very, very good, but I don’t think anything can beat the city of Louisville in terms of basketball popularity. And it has a lot to do with the University of Kentucky as well.

We don’t have pro teams. Certainly Kentucky makes up a big part of that [number] as well. Their fan base is very strong as is Louisville’s. It’s probably the most dominant city in America in terms of college basketball.

Pitino might be correct. The state of Kentucky has won two of the last three national championships, and this past season, the two schools both drew more than 300,000 fans to their home games, a number only four other schools could claim. 

[Courier Journal]

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Andrew Holleran is a staff writer for College Spun who currently resides in Columbus, Ohio. You can reach him via email at Andrew@collegespun.com or on Twitter @andrewjholleran.