How far will college basketball fans go for their team?

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Whether you’re a basketball fan year round or you think “in the paint” is an aisle at Home Depot, chances are you still scramble to fill out a bracket come March. The truth is the NCAA Basketball Tournament really does bring people together. From office pools to college rivalries, who doesn’t love a little friendly competition? And whether you make your bracket picks through rigorous research and countless hours in front of the television or by the aesthetics of uniform colors and the cuddliness of mascots, everyone is excited if their favorite team makes the Final Four.

But there is a difference between the average fan and those willing to shell out money for a plane ticket to see their fave fight it out in the semifinals — taking place this year at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. Usually, some of the most dedicated fans are those from a team’s home state. With Villanova, Oklahoma, University of North Carolina and Syracuse heading to Houston, how many fans are willing to go the distance to see their team in action? More than you’d think.

According to data from, flight searches to Houston from Philadelphia, Oklahoma City, Raleigh-Durham and Syracuse have increased dramatically since their home teams’ Elite Eight wins. Compared with the Monday prior to their victory, there was a 450 percent increase in flight searches to Houston from Villanova’s home town of Philadephia, while Raleigh-Durham saw a 348 percent increase after UNC’s advancement. And 10 seed underdog Syracuse saw an astounding 2,800 percent increase in flight searches to Houston. Even Oklahoma City airport saw a 227 percent increase, and Houston is only a six-hour drive away.

While the four cities are generally pretty popular origin cities for travelers, their home teams’ recent Elite Eight wins have catapulted them into more than one final four. On average Raleigh-Durham is the 38th most popular departure city for flights to Houston, but the day after UNC won, the city jumped to number three in popularity. Syracuse is typically the 90th most popular origin city for flights to Houston — after their team’s big win, the city jumped to number two. And Philadephia jumped in the ranks from 17th most popular departure city to the number one most searched departure point for flights to Houston.

We don’t know who will win it all, but it’s clear fans of the four remaining teams are willing to go the distance to find out. Let’s dance.

How far will college basketball fans go for their team? 3

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How far will college basketball fans go for their team? was last modified: June 26th, 2019 by Amanda Festa
Author: Amanda Festa (338 posts)

Amanda is a Boston-based writer who loves to travel and believes planning her next adventure is half the fun. Amanda is a Content and Social Media Executive at Cheapflights.