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According to the New York Times, UNC Fans Don't Exist [UPDATED]

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Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

UPDATE #2: The map has been corrected with the proper data. Before it was a mix of red for NC State, yellow for Wake Forest and a darker blue for Duke. Now it looks like this:

UNC_NYT

UPDATE: The New York Times has posted the following note regarding the interactive map.

Facebook has a discovered a coding error with its data for North Carolina, and we expect to have corrected data soon.

Gee, ya think? What's interesting is watching the New York Times dig in to defend the report, much like the N&O and CNN has done with Mary Willingham.

The problem is anyone who knows anything about the fan dynamics in the state of North Carolina knew the numbers were wrong. It wasn't that UNC was behind NC State or Duke, UNC wasn't there at all and that just doesn't make sense given how big of a brand North Carolina is, the lack of a football culture notwithstanding.

It will be interesting to see what the new data set shows. I sort of wonder if Andy Bechtel isn't close to the mark with this theory.

ORIGINAL POST

Here is your oddity for a Friday morning.

The New York Times put together a very cool interactive map breaks down the college football rooting interests of every zip code in the United States based on Facebook likes. As the mothership notes, there are some flaws.

We have some hesitations about North Carolina. The North Carolina Tar Heels did not list as a single zip code's favorite team in NC, despite having a large Facebook page, with Duke dominating much of the map. We have reached out to the New York Times for comment.

The issue here is not that UNC was second to NC State or Duke. UNC is no represented at all with several North Carolina zip codes showing Ohio State as the third preference. Granted Ohio State people seem to be everywhere on this plant but Ohio but not enough to outpace UNC fans in a given area.

The problem is these numbers were based off Facebook which strikes me as a little dicey though UNC should still be represented unless this is true.

UNC actually has a football page on Facebook(hat tip to @IWCorriher) but it is labeled as "experimental" and hasn't been used since August 22nd. It has a total of 836 likes or not enough to show up in this kind of research. UNC opts to put everything on a general athletics Facebook page that has over one million likes. Duke's official football page has over 18,000 likes. NC State doesn't have an official page I can find but there is an auto-generated page(based on what people like) which has over 45,000 likes.

Of course those numbers probably only capture part of the picture and doesn't necessarily explain everything we are seeing on the maps. Several members of the media have already asked the New York Times for an explanation so we'll wait and see if they provide one.

Whatever the case, it would appear the national media's willingness to publish highly questionable numbers isn't confined to research Mary Willingham produces.