By Barry Janoff
March 27, 2014: The Duke Blue Devils men's basketball team may have been eliminated from the NCAA hoops tournament in their first game, losing to Mercer in the round of 32, 78-71, but they remain the favorite men's college basketball team in the U.S. for the fifth consecutive year.
In fact, Duke has been No. 1 in 11 of 17 polls conducted by The Harris Poll regarding the top college basketball programs in America, dating back to 1993.
However, despite the fact that The Harris Poll was conducted in the midst of college hoops March Madness, the sport came in second to college football as the favorite sport among those surveyed.
Football was named by 39% of those surveyed as being their favorite college sport versus 28% for men's college hoops. The two sports have held those respective positions in surveys conducted by The Harris Poll dating back to 2007, but football's 39% is a new high.
Except for 1995, Dunk made the NCAA tournament in each of those years, reached the Sweet Sixteen 14 times, the Final Four five times and won the national championship in 2001 and 2010.
Mike Krzyzewski has been head coach since 1980.
Rival North Carolina was voted the second favorite men's college basketball team in the U.S. for the second consecutive year and third time in the past four seasons, according to Harris. The Tar Heels placed third in 2012, but were tied with Duke for first in 2010 and held the top position as soloists in 2007 and 2009.
Connecticut was named as the favorite college women's basketball team for the sixth consecutive year, according to The Harris Poll.
Despite the fact that The Harris Poll was conducted in the midst of college hoops March Madness, the sport came in second to college football as the favorite sport among those surveyed.
Behind Duke and UNC, the Top Ten favorite men's college basketball teams this season are Kentucky, Ohio State, Michigan, Syracuse, UCLA, Connecticut, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Wichita State (the latter three tied for the final spot).
Florida, ranked No. 1 overall in the tournament, is not in the Top Ten, and The Harris Poll did not indicate where the school's men's basketball team was ranked. However, the Gators were selected as the team most likely to win the 2014 National Championship (18%).
Still alive in the Sweet 16, to be played this week, are Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, Connecticut, Wisconsin and UCLA.
Teams that were in the Top Ten in the 2013 Harris Poll but fell out this year are Gonzaga (No. 6 in 2013), Illinois (No. 7), Georgetown (No. 8) and Texas (No. 9).
Lagging behind college football and basketball as the favorites among those surveyed are college baseball (10%), women's college hoops (9%) and college hockey (4%). Some 8% of those surveyed said the favorites were other college sports.
CBS Sports and Turner Sports’ exclusive second-round coverage of the 2014 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship – across TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV on Friday, March 21 – was the most-viewed first Friday of the NCAA Tournament in 23 years. The games on March 21 averaged 8.4 million total viewers, up 4% compared with 2013 (8.1 million total viewers).
Overall, through the first four days (excluding the First Four games), the tournament is averaging 8.2 million total viewers, up 6% over last year (7.7 million total viewers), and is the most-viewed start to the tournament since 1991 (when the tournament expanded to four telecast windows for the entire day).
Collectively, second-round coverage on Thursday and Friday, March 20-21, averaged 8.5 million total viewers, the most-viewed second round in 23 years and a 5% increase over 2013 (8.1 million total viewers), according to CBS Sports and Turner.
The Harris Poll was conducted among 2,234 adults, of whom 574 follow college basketball, surveyed online between March 12-17, 2014. See the full results here.
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