Home of Jayhawks ranked second-best city in America for college basketball fans

If you build it, they will come. The mantra certainly applies to the Kansas Jayhawks, who won the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament in 2022: Lawrence, Kansas was recently named the second-best city in the United States for college basketball fans.

It’s no surprise, as the Jayhawks have been one of the better college basketball programs this millennium in twenty seasons under the guidance of Bill Self.

They’re gearing up for another tournament run this season after being the best regular-season team in the Big 12. Named a one seed in the West regional bracket on Selection Sunday, they’re listed as overwhelming favorites (-6994) to defeat the No. 16 Howard Bison in the Round of 64 on Thursday at Maryland’s PointsBet sportsbook.

Why Lawrence? 

Personal finance website and app WalletHub created the ranking system that saw Lawrence named the second-best college basketball city in 2023. They also led the rankings when broken down by city size, pacing the small city category. With hundreds of cities to choose between, the site focused on nine key components. The categories in question were the number of Division 1 teams in a city (which put smaller cities at a disadvantage, hence the further breakdown by city size; how many wins per game played said teams averaged over the past three seasons; the number of regular season Division 1 conference championships a city has; the number of Hall of Fame head coaches; minimum season ticket price; fan engagement, per Twitter followers and Facebook likes; coaching stability, measured by the number of coaches in the past ten seasons; and stadium capacity.

When the dust settled, Lawrence narrowly trailed Durham, N.C., home of the Duke Blue Devils, and came just ahead of the respective homes of UConn, Kentucky, Michigan State, and UNC. 

Clearly, perennial powerhouses took up more than their fair share of the top of the rankings, as winning cures all ills. Teams like Temple, UCLA, St. Joseph’s University, USC, and Drexel don’t quite have quite the recent track record of success that the other teams do (a critical component of the rankings, given that the Bruins have a league-record 11 National Championships and could’ve easily topped the list) but Philadelphia and Los Angeles also made their way into the mix, aided by their massive market share. 

The Jayhawks’ Path to Cut Down the Nets

The Jayhawks came up just short in the Big 12 Championship game this past weekend. After being named the No. 1 seed, they fell to No. 2 Texas 76-56. It’s been a difficult week for Kansas, as the team announced Thursday ahead of their opening game with West Virginia that Self had been admitted to the hospital with chest pains and balance issues. 

Self underwent a standard heart catheterization procedure and had two stents inserted to treat blocked arteries. 

The 60-year-old head man missed the entire Big 12 Tournament, with Assistant Coach Norm Roberts taking his place. It was a scary moment for the 2017 inductee to the Basketball Hall of Fame: luckily, Self is expected to make a full recovery. He's not letting the procedure prevent his chances of guiding the Jayhawks to a second consecutive National Championship. Self said in an official statement that he’ll rejoin the team before the tournament begins, but he didn’t specify whether he’ll perform in the same capacity as usual: health comes first, and heart troubles are a serious matter. 

As part of the statement, Self thanked the cardiologists at the University of Kansas for aiding his recovery.

“I'm so thankful for the amazing staff at the University of Kansas Health System for the excellent care I received," Self said. "I am proud of our team and coaching staff for how they have handled this and am excited to be back with them as the best time of the season gets underway."

Cover Credits: ESPNofficial

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