The Top 5 Venues in College Basketball
Here we go, we will take a look at the Top 5 Best College Basketball Arenas in the United States. I took into consideration the history, the atmosphere, the crowds, the tradition and the arena itself. I have been to a few arenas and have seen many on television but you have to be there to experience it all at first hand. We have the traditions, the bands, the cheerleaders, the introduction videos, the jersey's hung in the rafters, the crazy fans, the seats, and even the food at each arena.
From the opening tip to the final buzzer you can sense the excitement in the air and witness the tradition of each arena when you first step into the door. Here are a few arenas that get my honorable mention before we look at the Top 5 arenas in the USA.
The Palestra, where the Penn Quakers play. With only around 8, 500 seats and the stadium's seats kissing the court, things can get pretty noisy and crazy in this historic University Arena.
Carrier Dome, where the Syracuse Orangemen play. The Carrier Dome is one of the largest arenas in the United States and one of the toughest ones to play in. Having unusual backgrounds and rowdy crowds make this arena one of the most intimidating arenas to visit and to play in.
Kohl Center, where the Wisconsin Badgers play. It is a great place to be a player because "the Grateful Red" remains one of the most passionate student sections in all of college basketball. Their fan base is on of the best in the nation and when imposing teams come to town they figure out why.
Now hold onto your drinks, take your seat, and don't head to the exit yet. The real game has just started and the Top 5 tip off comes to you now.
Number 5: University Arena Team: New Mexico Lobos Nickname: The Pit Opened: 1966 Capacity: 18,018
There really isn't anything like the Pit in College Basketball. With the court is submerged 37 feet below grade level, Mr. Boehning's architectural experiment has since produced one of the most hostile environments to play basketball in. Much of the arena is underground and you climb down into it. The lighting isn't the greatest because it gives the arena an eerie glow to the arena. In 1999, Sports Illustrated said the Pit was the toughest place to play.
Games in the Pit are intense. Because of the way the Pit was built, it is one of the loudest and craziest arenas around. There is also history here with the memories of NC State's Jimmy V led upset of Houston, as it took place here in the Pit. The attendance has been ranked in the Top 25 for average attendance ever single season since it was built. The Pit has hosted a Final Four and has one of the craziest fans around plus one of the creepiest: The Snake.
So take a trip to New Mexico and climb down into the pit for a basketball game and atmosphere you will never forget.
Number 4: Gallagher-Iba Arena Team: Oklahoma State Cowboys Nickname: The Madison Square Garden of the Plains Opened: 1938 Capacity: 13,611
In 1938 there was built only to hold 6,500 and then in 2001 it was renovated to hold 13,600. The fans are right on top of the court making it a sweet cozy atmosphere for the Cowboys, but an intimidating one for the visitors. It is one of the most under appreciated arenas in college basketball. Historically, the white maple court is one of the oldest courts still used.
These fans are one of the most basketball craved fans around. This arena is also the venue for the great wrestling team at Oklahoma State.There is also two seats that are preserved for the two coaches it is named after: Ed Gallagher, the wrestling coach and Henry Iba, longtime basketball coach.
In 2005, the court was officially named after Eddie Sutton as Eddie Sutton Court. Some say this is the Big 12's second toughest gym to play on and I would have to agree. Whenever you are in Stillwater, OK check out this arena with the Spirit Rider welcoming you in and don't leave town without eating at Eskimo Joe's.
Number 3: Rupp Arena Team: University of Kentucky Wildcats Nickname: None Opened: 1976 Capacity: 23,500
Kentucky fans are a different breed of fans. They will pack around 20,000 into Rupp Arena just to watch a Midnight Madness practice. The intensity of the games is matched by few other schools. Kentucky fans expect wins and wins year after year. They show up to every home game by truck loads to cheer on their Wildcats to a victory. They even have a famous alumnus cheering them on every game, Ashley Judd.
The arena speaks for itself. Just look up and you will see the number of National Titles that hang from the rafters. It was named after one of the greatest college coaches of all time; Adolph Rupp. When the term "tradition" comes up in college basketball, no other school comes in mind other than the Kentucky Wildcats.
Rupp looks more like a football stadium than a basketball gym despite it being one of the sport's renowned shrines. It leads the nation in attendance year after year, and the fans are always loud and the experience you can't miss. So drop by Rupp arena and who knows you even might get to meet Ashley Judd.
Cameron Indoor Stadium
Number 2: Cameron Indoor Stadium Team: Duke University Blue Devils Nickname: Coach K Court Opened: 1940 Capacity: 9,314
A blend of tradition, history, atmosphere and intensity of play, gives this arena the number two slot. Cameron is known for its clever fans, the Cameron Crazies, who taunt and chant the opposing team from start to end. This arena is so special because only the Students sit court-side. It is one of the few indoor arenas with a stadium name.
The USA Today refereed to it as "the toughest road game to play in the ACC. With the Cameron Crazies cheering that has been recorded as high as 121.3 db, which is louder than power saw at 3' or jackhammer, is the reason it is one of the toughest gyms to play in. In February 2011, the Duke men's basketball team extended its non-conference home winning streak to 86 games.
The other interesting part about this arena is that for months the students reside in tents in an area outside the arena called, "Krzyzewskiville" for access to major games like North Carolina. 83% of Duke games have ended in a victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium. With the talent level, the suffocating atmosphere, and the history makes this one of the greatest arenas to watch a basketball game. Even if the stadium is old, out-dated and not pleasing to the eye, the atmosphere itself will make this arena a place you want to buy a ticket to. So go place your tent now and get ready to experience a tradition like no other.
DRUM ROLL PLEASE: The Number One NCAA Basketball Arena is: No other than.....
Number 1: Allen Fieldhouse Team: Kansas Jayhawks Nickname: The Phog Opened: 1955 Capacity: 16,300
The Phog is the best place to watch a college basketball game in the nation. The Rock Chalk chant itself echoes in your memory when you picture a Kansas game and it's the best chants in the nation. The Fieldhouse is filled with history and tradition other programs dream about each night. Legends have stepped unto this court from players like Wilt Chamberlin, Dean Smith, Phog Allen, Clyde Lovellette, Jo Jo White, and Danny Manning just to name a few.
The court itself is named after the inventor of basketball and served as the Jayhawks first coach: James Naismith. The Jayhawks hold one of the longest home records in the nation and if that doesn't intimidate an opposing team, the noise level will. In 2010, ESPN the magazine named Allen Fieldhouse the loudest college basketball arenas in the country.
There is more tradition and charisma in the Phog than any other arena in the nation. From waving the wheat, holding up newspapers during the visiting team introductions, chanting the Rock Chalk chant, and watching the introduction video no other arena can hold up to the Phog. Resembling the look of a old Kansas barn, the Fieldhouse has been home to more than 600 victories by the Jayhawks thanks to a student section that is one of the most animated and loudest in the nation.
You meet the tradition when you walk in the doors when you pass the Booth Family Hall of Athletics and on the north wall hangs a banner reading, "Pay Heed, All Who Enter: Beware Of The Phog", in reference to the intimidating atmosphere and the team's home court dominance.
Look around and you can feel the history, see the tradition, and witness a lifetime of memories. With the NCAA Championship banners, the Big 12 Championship banners and the retired jersey's hanging from the rafters makes the Phog the best place to watch a College Basketball game. Fans will line up from blocks away to get into Late Night at the Phog in October, just to watch the skits and watch the first practice of the season. Tradition, history, and level of performance: Allen Fieldhouse has it all.
Being there a few years ago just gave me a taste of the Phog. I was given a free ticket and didn't know where my seat was till I got to the game. I was four rows from mid-court and I even met the general, Bobby Knight. This arena with all of it's history, intensity, and love of the game makes it number one on the Top 5 NCAA College Basketball arenas in the nation.