Duke basketball: Where Durham falls on flawed ranking of CBB cities

Duke basketball (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images) /

Just because a city features the unrivaled Duke basketball show doesn’t mean it is the greatest on earth for NCAA hoops junkies…or does it?

Yes, this Ball Durham site expert questions WalletHub for placing Durham, N.C., atop its “Best Cities for College Basketball Fans” on Wednesday. Nevertheless, I am thrilled with the misleading advertisement for a place I’ve called home for several stints. And I do gladly recognize that the Duke basketball program itself reigns supreme (so many stats from the past 30 seasons say it is so).

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But I must admit the methodology of this ranking exhibits several flaws. The first that popped into my mind was the fact that it did not take into account the shattered front-passenger-side window of my dad’s car that I discovered when we arrived back at a popular-for-parking, off-campus side street following Duke basketball’s Countdown to Craziness in 2016 (translation: your life-insurance agent might demand you not be in Durham after dark).

Also, there are several other oversights (as noted, along with some other related thoughts, in parentheses below) across the nine metrics that the ranking did weigh to varying degrees:

  1. Number of Division 1 teams within the city (keep in mind Durham’s North Carolina Central factors in; the explanation of the ranking doesn’t specify whether women’s squads were part of the equation)
  2. The combined winning-percentage average for the past three seasons (NCCU and Duke have been above .500 in each)
  3. All-time national championships (not sure if this counts the Helms Trophy, but that would at least partially explain why Chapel Hill is as high as No. 2 on this ranking — read “Tar Heels still can’t count to seven” — especially if the No. 2 metric above includes North Carolina’s 14-18 record this season)
  4. All-time regular-season conference titles (too bad it didn’t consider last-place finishes — once again, looking at you, 2019-20 Tar Heels)
  5. Number of Hall of Fame head coaches (thanks, Duke basketball majesty Mike Krzyzewski; it’s unclear whether WalletHub cared that the now-late Vic Bubas, who guided the Blue Devils to three Final Four appearances in the 1960s, is in the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame as a “Contributor”)
  6. Minimum season-ticket price (possibly a massive oversight, for the article does not specify whether it factored in the free admittance for students or, more importantly, the Duke basketball season-ticket holders’ required annual mega-donations, which are in the thousands for Cameron Indoor Stadium’s “cheap seats” and in the tens of thousands and up for those closer to the action — not to mention the size one’s bank account would need to be for entrance into the relatively new Champions Club)
  7. Engagement on social media (props to the official Duke basketball accounts, which many a five-star has mentioned as one reason for becoming a Blue Devil; that said, seeing that the Blue Devils are more of a haters-fueled national brand than a beloved “Tar Heel State” entity, surely Durham residents account for only a fraction of all the Facebook “likes” and Twitter followers, which the ranking evaluated “per capita” for each of the 289 cities on the list)
  8. The number of head coaches the past 10 seasons (one can assume the lower the total the better, so again, kudos to the 73-year-old Coach K for sticking around and adding to his arguably unmatched overall resume)
  9. Stadium capacity (Cameron’s 9,314 no doubt dinged the overall score, yet evidently not too severely considering the five-point gap between Durham at 58.62 and Chapel Hill at 53.68 is roughly the same as the gap between Chapel Hill and No. 9 Philadelphia at 48.43; all in all, the battle for the ranking’s top spot appears to have been no contest at all)

Ok, now that I’ve had time to dissect the metrics, I’ve decided to forgive Durham for my dad’s busted car window four years ago. Maybe this ranking, though not perfect, correctly pegged No. 1 after all. Plus, I admittedly let my personal bias show a bit when commenting on Chapel Hill.

Yes, there are no more fitting selections for the top two, exactly in the order that they appear, than the pair of rival cities that are only a few miles apart.

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Finally, for those folks who think any happenings in college basketball matter outside of this stretch of Tobacco Road, rounding out the top five after Durham and Chapel Hill are East Lansing, Mich.; Lawrence, Kan.; and Los Angeles.

Final note: apologies to North Carolina State faithful, but you will just have to take it upon yourselves to see where Raleigh is on the list, for I’m now suffering thumb-exhaustion after trying to scroll down far enough to find out.

Related Story. The 100 greatest Duke basketball players under Coach K. light

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