Mapping March Madness

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The brackets are out, so March Madness has officially begun. Hoops mania is spreading rapidly as basketball fans are traveling to games, filling out their brackets and buying snacks for watching the games on TV. The Men’s NCAA basketball tournament tips off Tuesday night, but most fans won’t be downloading the “boss button” or coming up with exotic excuses to miss work until Thursday and Friday. The competition is not only exciting for basketball fans, but also for companies that sponsor teams and the tournament. The games provide opportunities for companies to advertise and sell to avid fans who attend games to cheer their favorites, check their brackets and watch the tournament on TV.

Sponsors and advertisers need to know who the fans are and where they live so they can target messaging to the most profitable customers. Who are the avid college basketball fans? Where do they live?

Attend college basketball games

Consumers across the U.S. love to attend college basketball games. Fans most likely to attend games live along the Eastern Seaboard, in and around Utah, Wyoming and Colorado, and in parts of California. Residents of 06269 (Storrs Mansfield, Conn.), 37916 (Knoxville, Tenn.), 70893 (Baton Rouge, La.) and 93106 (Santa Barbara, Calif.) are among the most likely to attend college basketball games. Residents of these ZIP codes are 2.93 times more likely than the average American to attend a college basketball game.

Attend College Basketball Games


Who is most likely to attend a college basketball game? Esri has developed the Tapestry Segmentation system that classifies U.S. residential neighborhoods into 65 unique market segments based on socioeconomic and demographic characteristics.

For example, people in Dorms to Diplomas and Military Proximity neighborhoods are twice as likely as the average American to attend a college basketball game. People in Dorms to Diplomas neighborhoods are focused on their educations; approximately 81% are enrolled in college and graduate school. Approximately 43% live in dormitories on campus; others rent off-campus apartments in multi-unit buildings. Military Proximity residents depend upon the military for their livelihood; most of the labor force is in the Armed Forces, while others work in civilian jobs on military bases. Two-thirds of the households are married-couple families with children. Housing types are mainly townhouses and apartments in small multi-unit buildings; 93% are rentals.

Residents of Las Casas, Rooted Rural, Simple Living and Urban Villages neighborhoods are half as likely as the average American to attend a college basketball game.

Residents of Las Casas neighborhoods are settled primarily in California. Approximately half were born outside of the U.S. Most are young, Hispanic families. Rooted Rural neighborhoods are found in rural areas throughout the country; however, more than three-fifths are located in the South. Most of these residents are married couples. Approximately one‐third receive Social Security benefits. Located in urban outskirts or suburbs across the U.S., half of the population in Simple Living neighborhoods is singles who live alone or share housing; 32% of the households are married couple families. Urban Villages are multicultural enclaves of young families. All types of families live in these areas. Many earn two incomes from jobs in the manufacturing, health care, retail trade, construction and education industry sectors.

Watch college basketball games TV

Not all college basketball fans can see games in person, so many watch games on TV. People who would most likely watch college basketball on TV live in the Midwest and along the Eastern Seaboard.

Residents of ZIP codes 10996 (West Point, N.Y.), 23604 (Fort Eustis, Va.), 66442 (Fort Riley, Kan.) and 92055 (Camp Pendleton, Calif.) are among those most likely to watch college basketball games on television — more than 2.31 times more likely.

Watch College Basketball on TV


Residents of Dorms to Diplomas and Military Proximity neighborhoods are most likely to watch college basketball on TV. They are 1.5 times more likely than the average American. These are the same top Tapestry segments that are most likely to attend a college basketball game.

Residents of Southwestern Families neighborhoods are half as likely as the average American to watch college basketball on TV. These neighborhoods are ethnically diverse. Families in this segment are the bedrock of Hispanic culture in the Southwest. More have children than those who do not; most who work are employed in blue-collar or service occupations.

Why this matters

The Men’s NCAA basketball tournament is one of the biggest sporting events of the year in the U.S. Sponsors and advertisers want to maximize their marketing efforts during the tournament, so understanding who is most likely to watch and attend the events — and knowing something about them — can help companies to focus their marketing campaigns and create the right messaging targeted to the right audiences. This information will also help tournament organizers to choose venues that will generate the highest attendance for events.

More information about Esri’s data can be found at or to learn more about Esri in general, go to

Pam Allison is a digital media, marketing strategist and location intelligence consultant. You can visit her blog at

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