In the final installment of my Stadium Wish List series, I cover one of my favorite sports – college basketball.
College sports in general bring excitement and passion from their fans, but college basketball fans are right on top of the action. They come up with chants to get under opposing players’ skin and some even come up with crazy antics behind the baskets to do during free throw attempts.
Parity is ever present in the sport these days when it comes to wins and loses, but when it comes to the arenas the teams play in there is a definite model of consistency.
The so called “blue-blood” programs not only come with storied programs, but storied venues to play in.
Hilton Coliseum, Iowa State Cyclones
Pauley Pavilion, UCLA Bruins
Rupp Arena, Kentucky Wildcats
Xfinity Center, Maryland Terrapins
5. Breslin Student Events Center, Michigan State Spartans
Tom Izzo is one of my favorite coaches in all of sports.
His teams seem like a lock year in and out to make it to at least the Sweet 16, if not to the Elite Eight or the Final Four.
The road to the NCAA tournament, though, starts at Breslin Student Event Center, a court so beloved by Izzo’s fans that the student section is nicknamed “The Izzone,” and so beloved by his players that this year Denzel Valentine and his fellow seniors kissed the Spartan logo at center court when they were removed from their final game there.
Michigan State’s home arena is currently going through a $50 million renovation project that is said to be aimed at improving the visitor experience, which is even more of a reason to go. You want to see if that much money is really worth it.
4. Assembly Hall, Indiana Hoosiers
I’m staying in the Big Ten conference for the No. 4 arena on my wish list.
Assembly Hall has played host to three Indiana national championship teams, and was also the site where former Hoosier head coach Bob Knight threw his chair across the court in disgust of a call.
Not only is the history of the arena intriguing, but the set up of it is as well.
There is very limited seating behind the baskets; about 20 rows. However, over 17,000 seats fill the arena, which means a lot of seating that runs side to side.
Indiana basketball fans are very passionate, which also improves the fan experience.
The outside of the arena even is different from your generic circular-shaped arena.
Certainly as long as Tom Crean is leading the Hoosier onto the court every game, Assembly Hall will be on the bucket list.
3. Allen Fieldhouse, Kansas Jayhawks
As a WVU fan, I have seen Kansas basketball at Allen Fieldhouse (on TV).
Bill Self’s program is tough enough to beat when they Jayhawks are the road team. Put them in their home arena, and they are nearly unbeatable.
Even if it looks like the opposing team is about to put together a run to put the game away, it probably means that Kansas is about to go on a scoring streak to retake the lead.
Home-court advantage has never been truer than at “The Phog.”
Since taking over the program in 2003, Self has only lost nine (9) total games at home. And since 2007, Self and company are 140-3 at Allen Fieldhouse which, statistically, makes it the best home-court advantage in all of sports.
Numerous times it has been voted the loudest arena in college basketball.
Although the seats in the far corners of the long, rectangular arena do appear far away from the court, numerous pictures from the inside show that there doesn’t seem to be a bad seat in the house.
Big 12 basketball can be extremely fun to watch, and there isn’t a more historic house in the conference than “The Phog.”
T-1. Dean Smith Center, North Carolina Tar Heels
I hate ties, but there’s no way to chose between these two legendary ACC teams’ home floors that are separated by just a few miles on Tobacco Road.
I’ll start with North Carolina and the Dean Smith Center, named, obviously, after one of the best coaches in college basketball history Dean Smith.
Playing in front of a home crowd of 21,000+ fans, UNC is the tenant of the third-largest arena in the ACC, and fourth largest in all of D-I basketball.
Although sometimes the North Carolina crowd has been criticized of being too laid back, or not nearly as loud as their in-state rival, Tar Heel fans certainly shouldn’t be taken lightly.
The arena was appropriately opened in 1986 with a game between No. 1 UNC and No. 3 Duke, which the Tar Heels won 95-92. Duke/UNC games are always extremely entertaining, and some of the best ones on the Tar Heels home floor have been in the Dean Smith Center.
Tickets to conference games can be nearly impossible to get for outsiders, but I’d take any chance to go to a North Carolina home game, no matter if the opponent is Wofford or Duke.
T-1. Cameron Indoor Stadium, Duke Blue Devils
Speaking of Duke, the home of the Blue Devils is the only basketball stadium in college basketball that can compete with the home of their archrival.
Whereas the Dean Smith Center is one of the largest arenas in the ACC, Cameron Indoor Stadium is one of the smallest in the conference in terms of seating capacity.
But don’t tell the fans that.
Although seating capacity is listed at just over 9,000, for the biggest games of the year nearly 1,000 extra fans can gain entrance into the facilities.
When talking about Duke basketball on its home floor, you have to talk about the Cameron Crazies. They are exactly that – crazy.
The over one thousand screaming Duke students that get tickets to Blue Devil home games are possibly the most loud and passionate in the country. Cheers have been recorded as high as 121.3 decibels, or in other words very loud.
Putting aside my dislike for Duke, getting to a Duke home game before Coach K retires (whenever that my be) is certainly one of the top goals of any college basketball fan’s bucket list.
I hope you enjoyed my Stadium Wish List series.
If you get to any of the stadiums or arenas before I do, let me know what your opinion of it was, and I’ll be sure to do the same.