A photo from our March 2016 post "Witnessing March Madness in Denver From the Worst Seats in the House."
Michael Roberts

Why Denver Is One of the Worst Cities for March Madness in the USA

Today, Monday, March 13, basketball fans across the country are gearing up for the start of the annual NCAA basketball tournament popularly known as March Madness. But according to a new survey, Mile High hoops fans are at an enormous disadvantage when it comes to experiencing and enjoying this annual sports ritual. According to the WalletHub report, Denver is the fourth worst large city for March Madness and ranks at 276 out of 291 total communities analyzed, barely ahead of Kennesaw, Georgia, Poughkeepsie, New York and Colorado Springs, which finished at 280.

The full list is below. But Denver's lousy numbers in major categories used by WalletHub to determine the best and worst March Madness cities clearly contributed to its poor performance overall. The city landed in 177th place for winning percentage by teams from here, 226th in conference championships, 285th in social-media engagement and 274th in stadium capacity.

The NCAA would like Denver to be swept up in March Madness fever to a greater degree, as indicated by the staging of early tournament rounds at the Pepsi Center last year. Teams that appeared included Purdue, Arkansas Little Rock, Iowa State, Iona, Seton Hall, Gonzaga, Utah and Fresno State. But no Denver teams actually took part, either here or elsewhere; the closest squad that made the cut in 2016 was the University of Colorado Boulder, which wound up as an eighth seed but was promptly eliminated by Connecticut.

To learn more about Denver's March Madness woes, we reached out to WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez. Here's part of that conversation, as conducted via e-mail.

Crowds heading to their seats at the Pepsi Center for March Madness games staged in Denver in 2016.
Crowds heading to their seats at the Pepsi Center for March Madness games staged in Denver in 2016.
Michael Roberts

Westword: Denver is generally considered to be one of the best sports cities in the country. Why did it fare so badly when it comes to March Madness?

Jill Gonzalez: Denver didn't fare too well across the board, from team performance to fan engagement.

Is one of the main reasons for Denver's poor performance the lack of a Denver team that regularly competes at a high level in the NCAA tournament?

Denver was dragged down on the overall rankings largely because of its team performance. It ranked 177th for its win percentage over the past three seasons, at just 47.7 percent. This season alone, it has zero regular-season conference wins, ranking 226th.

The closest teams to the Denver area that tend to go to the NCAA or NIT tournaments are the University of Colorado Boulder, Colorado State University and the Air Force Academy. Do your numbers suggest that despite the teams' proximity to Denver, fans in Denver proper don't follow them that closely or have a great deal of interest in them?

Our numbers addressed each of those schools separately, under their own cities.

Denver scored badly among communities as a whole, as well as among large cities. Are there other large cities that aren't home to basketball powerhouses that score better than Denver, and if so, what are some examples?

Because team performance was heavily weighted in this report, the better a team has been recently, the better the city fared overall. However, fan engagement, ticket prices and stadium capacity all could boost a city up, despite how its team has been playing lately.

Is there anything Denver can do to move up in the March Madness rankings beyond having a school in the immediate area suddenly improve to the point where more residents are engaged?

For the purposes of this report, unfortunately, no. We may include data on sports bars and viewership rates in the future, where Denver could see a bump in the numbers.

Continue to see the complete WalletHub countdown, which shows graphically how bad a March Madness city Denver was judged to be. Click to see the full report.

The courtside view after the conclusion of March 2016 March Madness games in Denver.
The courtside view after the conclusion of March 2016 March Madness games in Denver.
Michael Roberts

Best and worst March Madness cities according to WalletHub:

Overall Rank City Total Score
1 Chapel Hill, NC 52.82
2 Los Angeles, CA 50.41
3 Durham, NC 49.3
4 Bloomington, IN 46.76
5 Philadelphia, PA 46.03
6 East Lansing, MI 43.67
7 Lawrence, KS 43.35
8 Lexington, KY 42.48
9 Storrs, CT 42.47
10 Cullowhee, NC 41.82
11 New York, NY 40.57
12 Morgantown, WV 38.29
13 Emmitsburg, MD 37.68
14 West Point, NY 37.59
15 Kingston, RI 37.23
16 Norman, OK 36.55
17 Ann Arbor, MI 36.14
18 College Park, MD 35.65
19 Cincinnati, OH 35.12
20 Provo, UT 35.11
21 Washington, DC 35.04
22 Houston, TX 34.73
23 Rosemont, IL 34.05
24 Loretto, PA 33.69
25 Charlottesville, VA 33.67
26 Itta Bena, MS 33.59
27 Ames, IA 33.13
28 Nacogdoches, TX 33.12
29 Fayette, MS 32.84
30 Salt Lake City, UT 32.8
31 Princess Anne, MD 32.4
32 Lewiston, NY 32.13
33 Murray, KY 31.94
34 Blacksburg, VA 31.75
35 Athens, OH 31.72
36 Pullman, WA 31.29
37 Ruston, LA 31.09
38 Baton Rouge, LA 30.69
39 Boston, MA 30.53
40 Milwaukee, WI 30.18
41 Morehead, KY 29.94
42 Austin, TX 29.82
43 Nashville, TN 29.73
44 Allegany, NY 29.72
45 Albany, NY 29.7
46 Dayton, OH 29.69
47 Hamilton, NY 29.61
48 South Bend, IN 29.57
49 Ogden, UT 29.35
50 Fayetteville, AR 29.34
51 Baltimore, MD 29.34
52 Huntsville, TX 29.24
53 Stillwater, OK 29.23
54 Orangeburg, SC 29.12
55 Eugene, OR 29.01
56 Gainesville, FL 28.97
57 Boiling Springs, NC 28.91
58 College Station, TX 28.82
59 Williamsburg, VA 28.69
60 Lexington, VA 28.67
61 Buies Creek, NC 28.2
62 San Francisco, CA 28.11
63 Providence, RI 27.95
64 Ypsilanti, MI 27.75
65 Norfolk, VA 27.62
66 Terre Haute, IN 27.43
67 Lewisburg, PA 27.41
68 Omaha, NE 27.35
69 New Rochelle, NY 27.34
70 Champaign, IL 27.33
71 Richmond, KY 27.21
72 Highland Heights, KY 27.09
73 Toledo, OH 27.05
74 Memphis, TN 27.03
75 Bowling Green, KY 26.95
76 Stony Brook, NY 26.9
77 Durham, NH 26.85
78 Green Bay, WI 26.83
79 Grambling, LA 26.83
80 Valparaiso, IN 26.79
81 Natchitoches, LA 26.4
82 San Diego, CA 26.37
83 San Antonio, TX 26.35
84 Mount Pleasant, MI 26.3
85 Conway, SC 26.29
86 Columbia, SC 26.25
87 Phoenix, AZ 26.17
88 Worcester, MA 26.17
89 Montgomery, AL 26.08
90 Lafayette, LA 25.99
91 Moraga, CA 25.94
92 Hanover, NH 25.91
93 Troy, AL 25.68
94 Fargo, ND 25.65
95 Rock Hill, SC 25.65
96 Irvine, CA 25.61
97 West Lafayette, IN 25.54
98 Dallas, TX 25.44
99 Bowling Green, OH 25.38
100 Seattle, WA 25.35
101 Boulder, CO 25.29
102 Fort Collins, CO 25.25
103 Johnson City, TN 25.21
104 Arlington, TX 25
105 Buffalo, NY 24.96
106 Asheville, NC 24.91
107 Little Rock, AR 24.9
108 Newark, NJ 24.83
109 Chicago, IL 24.83
110 El Paso, TX 24.82
111 Davidson, NC 24.8
112 Fort Wayne, IN 24.77
113 Statesboro, GA 24.69
114 Harrisonburg, VA 24.62
115 Stanford, CA 24.58
116 Charleston, IL 24.51
117 Wilmington, NC 24.5
118 Orem, UT 24.43
119 Las Cruces, NM 24.43
120 Portland, OR 24.27
121 Farmville, VA 24.25
122 Tulsa, OK 24.2
123 Monroe, LA 24.15
124 Kent, OH 24.12
125 DeKalb, IL 24.07
126 Tucson, AZ 24.03
127 Fort Myers, FL 24
128 Martin, TN 23.96
129 Tempe, AZ 23.72
130 Annapolis, MD 23.69
131 Boise, ID 23.67
132 Santa Barbara, CA 23.67
133 Greensboro, NC 23.66
134 Newark, DE 23.64
135 Fairfield, CT 23.54
136 Homewood, AL 23.54
137 Denton, TX 23.36
138 Normal, IL 23.34
139 Indianapolis, IN 23.3
140 Thibodaux, LA 23.27
141 Hammond, LA 23.24
142 Hampton, VA 23.24
143 Flagstaff, AZ 23.21
144 Murfreesboro, TN 23.18
145 Greeley, CO 23.16
146 Jacksonville, FL 23.13
147 Lawrence, NJ 23.04
148 Las Vegas, NV 23.02
149 Towson, MD 22.98
150 Hempstead, NY 22.98
151 Miami, FL 22.98
152 Bakersfield, CA 22.94
153 State College, PA 22.92
154 Spokane, WA 22.86
155 Abilene, TX 22.78
156 Sacramento, CA 22.76
157 Tuscaloosa, AL 22.74
158 Huntington, WV 22.68
159 Long Beach, CA 22.68
160 Raleigh, NC 22.65
161 Madison, WI 22.65
162 Pittsburgh, PA 22.61
163 Syracuse, NY 22.49
164 Clarksville, TN 22.47
165 Macon, GA 22.42
166 Oxford, MS 22.4
167 Pine Bluff, AR 22.34
168 Grand Forks, ND 22.29
169 Vermillion, SD 22.13
170 Oxford, OH 22.05
171 Lowell, MA 22.01
172 Laramie, WY 22
173 New Orleans, LA 21.99
174 Charlotte, NC 21.98
175 Clemson, SC 21.93
176 San Marcos, TX 21.93
177 Louisville, KY 21.83
178 Muncie, IN 21.83
179 Honolulu, HI 21.74
180 Elon, NC 21.58
181 Winston-Salem, NC 21.58
182 Greenville, SC 21.53
183 Macomb, IL 21.48
184 Edwardsville, IL 21.47
185 Cheney, WA 21.41
186 Reno, NV 21.31
187 Charleston, SC 21.3
188 Greenville, NC 21.21
189 Akron, OH 21.18
190 Corpus Christi, TX 21.16
191 DeLand, FL 21.12
192 Princeton, NJ 21.03
193 Iowa City, IA 20.96
194 Conway, AR 20.86
195 Logan, UT 20.86
196 San Luis Obispo, CA 20.73
197 Detroit, MI 20.7
198 Huntsville, AL 20.7
199 Springfield, MO 20.67
200 Orono, ME 20.62
201 Kansas City, MO 20.61
202 Dover, DE 20.51
203 Bozeman, MT 20.38
204 Cleveland, OH 20.28
205 Beaumont, TX 20.25
206 Stockton, CA 20.11
207 Coral Gables, FL 20.11
208 Spartanburg, SC 19.88
209 Waco, TX 19.84
210 Starkville, MS 19.83
211 Des Moines, IA 19.63
212 Boca Raton, FL 19.58
213 Lubbock, TX 19.56
214 Richmond, VA 19.5
215 Birmingham, AL 19.43
216 Cedar City, UT 19.34
217 Edinburg, TX 19.31
218 Auburn, AL 19.14
219 Orlando, FL 19.07
220 St. Louis, MO 18.8
221 Lake Charles, LA 18.76
222 Youngstown, OH 18.57
223 Berkeley, CA 18.56
224 Evansville, IN 18.49
225 Cambridge, MA 18.43
226 Hartford, CT 18.37
227 Carbondale, IL 18.2
228 Knoxville, TN 17.98
229 Wichita, KS 17.9
230 Brookings, SD 17.86
231 New Haven, CT 17.86
232 Chattanooga, TN 17.63
233 Columbus, OH 17.63
234 San Jose, CA 17.47
235 Columbia, MO 17.08
236 Fullerton, CA 16.8
237 Binghamton, NY 16.68
238 Cedar Falls, IA 16.6
239 New Brunswick, NJ 16.49
240 Corvallis, OR 16.38
241 Rochester Hills, MI 16.35
242 Albuquerque, NM 16.2
243 Burlington, VT 16.18
244 Amherst, MA 15.94
245 Atlanta, GA 15.89
246 Manhattan, KS 15.57
247 Fort Worth, TX 15.33
248 Tallahassee, FL 15.04
249 Radford, VA 15
250 Evanston, IL 14.95
251 Missoula, MT 14.6
252 Prairie View, TX 13.91
253 Boone, NC 13.85
254 Long Branch, NJ 13.81
255 Athens, GA 13.59
256 Malibu, CA 13.54
257 High Point, NC 13.36
258 Kalamazoo, MI 12.9
259 Fresno, CA 12.7
260 Moscow, ID 12.61
261 Lincoln, NE 12.35
262 Cookeville, TN 12.11
263 Easton, PA 11.84
264 Cape Girardeau, MO 11.41
265 Bethlehem, PA 11.34
266 Fairfax, VA 10.93
267 Hattiesburg, MS 10.72
268 Pocatello, ID 10.59
269 Davis, CA 10.43
270 Minneapolis, MN 10.09
271 Jonesboro, AR 9.98
272 Santa Clara, CA 9.96
273 Mobile, AL 9.83
274 Jacksonville, AL 9.78
275 North Charleston, SC 9.65
276 Denver, CO 9.63
277 Jersey City, NJ 9.35
278 Savannah, GA 9.32
279 Kennesaw, GA 9.14
280 Colorado Springs, CO 9.13
281 Jackson, MS 9.1
282 Ithaca, NY 8.21
283 Poughkeepsie, NY 8.21
284 Lynchburg, VA 8.15
285 Riverside, CA 8.05
286 Hackensack, NJ 7.99
287 Clinton, SC 7.98
288 Daytona Beach, FL 7.39
289 Peoria, IL 7.38
290 Tampa, FL 6.45
291 New Britain, CT 5.38

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