The NCAA goes through an elaborate tournament to determine the nation’s top college basketball teams. A Harris Poll employs the simpler method of asking a bunch of adults to name their favorites.
In polling fielded on the eve of the men’s and women’s tournaments and released this week, respondents who follow college basketball picked Duke as their favorite men’s team and Tennessee as their favorite women’s squad. University of North Carolina ranked second in the voting for favorite men’s team, followed by Indiana, UCLA and Iowa. On the women’s side, Connecticut came in second, followed by Iowa and (in a three-way tie) Maryland, Stanford and Duke.
There’s a significant degree of stability in the polling from year to year. Duke’s men’s team has ranked No. 1 among survey respondents in four of the previous five years, and Tennessee’s women’s team has done the same. There’s more volatility lower in the standings. On the men’s side, four of last year’s top 10 teams fell out of this year’s top 10: Ohio State, Texas, Michigan and Syracuse. On the women’s side, Ohio State, Michigan, Baylor and Penn State were dropouts.
Another section of the poll gives reason to believe March Madness is a matter of March Indifference to many people. Twenty-three percent of all respondents said they follow men’s college basketball, and just 7 percent said they follow women’s college basketball. By comparison, 34 percent said they follow college football.