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Where do State College, Loretto rank among the nation’s best basketball cities?

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These kinds of rankings are always interesting, even if they’re generally ambiguous and seemingly highly subjective. Still, they do provide some intriguing elements for comparison.

The folks at Wallet Hub have released their annual rankings of the best basketball cities in the country. Los Angeles leads the way at No. 1, while Boston, Salt Lake City, Philadelphia and San Francisco round out the top five.

Penn State has never been a basketball powerhouse, so it’s no surprise that State College would lag behind many other cities in this kind of list. State College comes in at No. 117, which isn’t great, but …

Columbus Ohio, home of Ohio State, is No. 115. And Waco, Texas, home of reigning national champion Baylor, is at No. 116. So in that regard, State College’s position isn’t all that bad.

The top Big Ten cities in the rankings:

** No. 28: East Lansing, Mich. (Michigan State)

** No. 36: College Park, Md. (Maryland)

** No.  41: Bloomington, Ind. (Indiana)

** No. 42: Ann Arbor, Mich. (Michigan)

** No. 54: West Lafayette, Ind. (Purdue)

** No. 73: Champaign, Ill. (Illinois)

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After that, it’s Columbus and State College as the only other two Big Ten cities in the top 150.

The Wallet Hub annual rankings usually look kindly on Loretto, Pa., home of Saint Francis University. The study’s metrics always seem to favor the tiny town, and this year Loretto came in as the No. 38 best basketball city in America.

Also of note: Lewisburg (home of Bucknell) is No. 67, Pittsburgh is No. 94, and Easton (home of Lafayette) is No. 103.

How does Wallet Hub come up with these rankings? Well, this is the criteria listed on the website, which does breakdowns for NBA and college cities:

NCAA Basketball – Total Points = 30

  • Number of College Basketball (Division 1) Team(s): Full Weight (~4.29 Points)
  • Performance Level of College Basketball (Division 1) Team(s): Full Weight (~4.29 Points)
    Note: This metric was calculated by dividing “Number of Wins” by “Total Games Played” and using the past three seasons’ averages.
  • Number of College Basketball (Division 1) Championship Wins: Full Weight (~4.29 Points)
  • Number of College Basketball (Division 1) Conference Regular Season Championship Wins: Half Weight (~2.14 Points)
  • Number of Hall of Fame Head Coaches: Half Weight (~2.14 Points)
  • Minimum Season Ticket Price for College Basketball (Division 1) Games: Full Weight (~4.29 Points)
  • College-Basketball Fan Engagement: Full-Weight (~4.29 Points)
    Note: This metric was calculated by adding “Number of Twitter Followers” and “Number of Facebook ‘Likes’ per Capita.”
  • Number of Coaches in Past 10 Seasons: Half Weight (~2.14 Points)
    Note: “Past 10 Seasons” include seasons 2011–20012 to 2020–2021.
  • College-Basketball Stadium Capacity: Half Weight (~2.14 Points)
    Note: This metric was calculated by dividing “Stadium Capacity” by “City Population.

I’m not quite sure how much impact “number of coaches in past 10 seasons” should have, but as you can see, it’s part of the formula.

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Cory Giger is a 15-year veteran of the Penn State beat and a journalist with 28 years of experience. He has won more than 100 state and national journalism awards during his career, plus he's a voter for the Heisman Trophy in football and Wooden Award in basketball.

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