College basketball attendance in Kentuckiana remains substantially larger that ESPN favorite Tobacco Road.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Note to Tobacco Road: You'd better pick up the pace if you plan to keep pretending you're the center of the college basketball universe.
Otherwise, it's just ESPN propaganda.
The latest confirmation that the Kentuckiana Triangle smothers the folks in North Carolina in unrelenting college basketball passion came in the attendance numbers for the 2012-13 season that the NCAA released this week.
Look beyond the rankings that show Kentucky ranked first, Louisville third and Indiana fifth in average attendance last season while North Carolina was fourth, N.C. State 12th and Duke 47th. In total home attendance, the Wildcats, Cardinals and Hoosiers outdrew the Tar Heels, Wolfpack and Blue Devils by more than 356,000 fans.
OK, I understand that Duke plays its home games in a facility that is only slightly larger than several Indiana high school gyms. That's the choice they make in Krzyzewskiville to ensure that nearly every seat remains filled in Durham.
But I'll also look at another comparison – how the schools ranked in filling their home facilities.
Here are those numbers: U of L, UK and IU played to 99.2 percent capacity for a combined 53 home games last season. UNC, State and Duke filled 88.4 percent of their home seats for a combined 49 home games.
Please remember that the Nielsen TV numbers have shown that Louisville has been the best college basketball market in America for more than a decade.
Your turn, Tobacco Road. Fire away.
*A few other interesting college basketball attendance tidbits:
Which league had the most teams ranked in the Top 25 in attendance?
The Big 10 – with seven (Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Illinois, Michigan State, Iowa, Minnesota). Paging, Michigan. Get in the game.
No other league had more than three programs in the top 25, although that's about to change with Syracuse playing in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season and Louisville jumping into the ACC pool next year.
*How far has basketball interest slipped in the Pac 12?
It's behind skate-boarding and wind-surfing.
One program, Arizona, ranked in the Top 35 and only two (add Colorado) ranked in the top 40.
*The Big 10 is big – and getting bigger. The league ranked first in total and average attendance for the regular season and conference tournament.
Average attendance declined in the Big East, SEC and Big 12 last season, but Big Ten teams averaged an extra 246 fans per game last season.
*The first Associated Press college football Top 25 for the 2013 season will be released Saturday. John Clay, columnist for the Herald-Leader in Lexington, files the sole vote in Kentucky.
In other words, I don't have a vote. But I do have an opinion: