GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – We know where Tournament Town is. We know the key city for college basketball in this part of the country. We know how that ball bounces.

And, sorry to tell you, it’s not Durham. And it certainly isn’t Storrs, Connecticut, whatever that is. And Lexington, Kentucky? Ha.

But the folks at WalletHub, a financial advice outlet that crunches numbers to tell us about life, stirred up this conversation by ranking Durham as the Best Town for College Basketball Fans.

WalletHub ranked Greensboro as No. 135 among the 295 cities it surveyed. No. 135? No. 135?!!!!!

We say they can take their data and dunk it.

Greensboro Coliseum is mostly empty after the NCAA college basketball games were cancelled at the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Greensboro, N.C., Thursday, March 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Greensboro Coliseum is hosting three tournaments and three weeks. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Durham? Seriously? That No. 1 ranking is giving Duke way too much credit.

That little bitty Cameron Indoor Arena. What big college basketball games have been played there? How many times has Durham had an ACC women’s Tournament? An ACC Men’s Tournament? An NCAA regional?

Oh, yeah, there was one NCAA regional game played there. In 1954, when there were 24 schools in the field. NC State beat George Washington in that one. Otherwise, the sum is zero.

The best college town in America? Please.

Tournament Town – Greensboro, the city even owns that internet domain – is having all three of those events THIS YEAR. And not for the first time!

WalletHub ranked Greensboro behind places like Buies Creek, Boiling Springs, Cullowhee and Boone. They are nice places to visit, but come on. Chapel Hill is No. 8. And that’s too high, too.

Not Raleigh or Charlotte. Buies Creek?! Greensboro is No. 135?!?!?!!?

What are these people thinking?

Don’t they know that Greensboro has been hosting tournaments since Gen. Green lost the game but won the war at the courthouse? The ACC men’s tourney: The 29th time since 1954 starts today with three games. Women’s tourney? Every time in this century.

Heck, even Yahoo knows where those events belong.

And NCAA Tournaments? Next weekend’s first- and second-round games at Greensboro Coliseum will be the tournament’s 13th visit. There have been three regional finals. And in 1974 the FINAL FOUR was played here. (NC State beat UCLA, in case you don’t remember).

No. 135? That’s a flagrant foul if we’ve ever seen one.

Source: WalletHub

The top places

Here’s who WalletHub’s data dunkers say are the top 10 markets (in order). We admit a few make sense, but the rest … read them and laugh: Durham; Lawrence, Kansas; Storrs; Lexington; Los Angeles; East Lansing, Michigan; Philadelphia; Chapel Hill; Fayette, Mississippi; and Loretto, Pennsylvania.

Fayette and Loretto? What in the world? Do you know the names of the colleges in those towns? We didn’t either (Alcorn and St. Francis, FYI). But they tied for first place for Accessible College Basketball Stadiums. New York was next-to-last-place Sacramento on that list. Like Greensboro Coliseum is too far from I-40?

North Carolina’s cities

Here are the other NC cities that were ranked ahead of Greensboro: Buies Creek, No. 34. Boiling Springs, No. 43. Cullowhee, No. 69. Davidson, No. 104. Boone, No. 120.

And then Greensboro at No. 135! No. 135!!!! Analysts even separated out High Point (No. 195) and Elon (No. 207) for some reason.

Charlotte was No. 146, and Raleigh was No. 197. Asheville, celebrating a run to this year’s NCAA Tournament by UNC-Asheville, was No. 222. Greenville came in at No. 247, and Wilmington is at No. 276.

In between came Winston-Salem at No. 249. Take that, Wake Forest, which likely will play in the NCAA Tournament, and Winston-Salem State, which is playing in the NCAA-Division II tourney.

Greensboro at No. 135? Or, if you group by city size, No. 27 among mid-sized cities behind, oh, Mobile, Alabama! No way. What are these people thinking?

The madness

WalletHub always has a method, even to this March Madness. Analysts took the 295 cities with at least one Division 1 college basketball team and developed measurements that were weighted and distributed.

The highest value was awarded to how well those schools performed (so it meant more that Kansas won last year’s NCAA Tournament than so many games are played at the Greensboro Coliseum.

Factors such as hall-of-fame coaches (oh, point for Durham) and even ticket prices (High Point has the lowest among the 295) were part of it. Stadium capacity, too, and Greensboro should have earned points for that.

The city groupings were devised by fewer than 100,000 population for small, more than 300,000 for large, and every other place in between.

Some other NC “superlatives” in the report:

  • Chapel Hill ties with Lexington for the highest minimum season-ticket price.
  • Chapel Hill ranked No. 1 (over Bloomington, Indiana) for most engaged college basketball fans.


WalletHub also asked some experts about the best cities for college basketball. They were even bigger homers than we are.

“I teach at Davidson College so Davidson is the best city for me,” Tim Chartier, a computer science professor at Davidson College, told WalletHub. “We are the college roots of Stephen Curry and the small town packs the arena and shakes the building with the yells and screams for the team.

“Beyond Davidson, I would stay in North Carolina and say Raleigh-Durham. You have very strong programs with highlights that make the list of many top 10 lists. Even more, you have a strong rivalry with two schools less than a dozen miles apart.”

Memo to Chartier: Have you been to Greensboro for the NCAA Tournament? Come on down.

Then WalletHub asked David Hollander, a professor at the Tisch Institute for Global Sport at New York University:

“New York City, of course,” Hollander told WalletHub. “Why? Because it has the most potential. Right now, in the greatest sports market in the world, there is really no marquee-level college basketball but there are a ton of students and alumni. Talk about opportunity!”

Marcis Fennell, an associate professor at Florida A&M, went West, but only after a stop in North Carolina.

“Contrary to the popular choices of Durham and Chapel Hill, NC, I believe the best city for college basketball fans is Seattle,” Fennell said. “Seattle is a basketball city. Venture through the city and even the neighboring suburbs, and you will witness pedestrians with basketballs in hand. Visit local parks, you will find youth competing in pick-up games.”