March Madness Infects Facebook Data Science Team

By David Cohen 

With the 2013 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship tournament set to tip off Tuesday, Michael Bailey of the Facebook Data Science Team filled out his brackets with information on Facebook likes in a note on the Sports on Facebook page.

Bailey wrote that at least 1 million Facebook users like one of the 68 teams’ pages, and his analysis on all four regions in the bracket follows:

West: No. 1 seed Gonzaga “enjoys a sprawling fan base throughout the west and, most important, in Salt Lake City and Los Angeles, where it is hoping to advance through the bracket,” and large statewide fan bases are boasted by Iowa State, Minnesota, Kansas State, New Mexico, and Mississippi.

East: This region features a three-way battle between three teams that are actually from the Midwest in terms of geography: by Indiana, Marquette, and Illinois. Bailey wrote that No. 1 seed Indiana will benefit from playing in Ohio and Washington, D.C., but the fan bases of Illinois, Marquette, and Syracuse are nearby, as well.

Midwest: No. 2 seed Duke dominates in terms of likes, but No. 1 Louisville will play its games in Kentucky and Indiana, which Bailey described as “a blob of red in the sea of blue.”

South: Despite its No. 8 seed, North Carolina boasts the most Facebook support in this region, with company from Minnesota, Kansas, and Michigan.

Breaking down the NCAA Tournament field by conference, the Big East led with eight teams, followed by the Big Ten with seven, and five each from the Atlantic 10, Mountain West, Pac-12, and Big 12. But in terms of Facebook likes, the Atlantic Coast Conference dominated the east and south, as well as the innermost western states, while the Big Ten and Big 12 controlled the Midwest, and the Pac 12 and West Coast Conference held strong on the West Coast.

Looking at the four No. 1 seeds, Louisville only controls its home state in terms of likes, while Gonzaga owns the west, Kansas tops the middle states, and Indiana finishes on top in the Midwest and east. Indiana is the overall leader, while Kansas covers more territory.

On the opposite end of the brackets, No. 16 seeds Liberty and North Carolina A&T enjoy the most likes among teams seeded Nos. 13 through 16, while among those seeded Nos. 9 through 12, Villanova is tops in the east and south, while Iowa State, Minnesota, and Missouri carved out their niches in the Midwest, and the West Coast favors Oregon.

Finally, in terms of big in-state rivalries, North Carolina tops Duke, Michigan prevails over Michigan State, and Kansas bests Kansas State.

Readers: Have you filled out your brackets yet?