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Who has the best home-court advantage in college basketball? Ranking schools in tiers

By newadmin / Published on Friday, 13 Jan 2023 14:52 PM / No Comments / 6 views

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Is there another sport that can create a true home-court advantage like college basketball?

Whether it’s the frenzied fans shouting school chants at the top of their lungs or the simple intimacy of an arena that’s been around for 50-plus years, there is something special about the experience at a college basketball game.

Schools like Kansas, Duke and Kentucky are known as college basketball blue bloods, but they are also known for having outstanding fans that can create a massive home-court advantage.

With that said, it’s time check out my list of the best atmospheres in college hoops.

Andy Katz’s best home-court advantages

FOX Sports’ Andy Katz breaks down which schools have the top home-court advantages in the nation, separating them into five tiers.

Tier 1: Best of the best

Kansas: I love everything about the Phog. The intimacy. The atmosphere. I’ve never been disappointed by an experience at Kansas. The fans show up no matter the opponent. And of course, you can’t leave there without having “Rock Chalk, Jayhawk” ringing in your ear.

Arizona: The McKale Center doesn’t get the respect it deserves. I would put Arizona’s fan base up against any in the country. The Wildcats always show well in Tucson, as well as every time they play in Las Vegas or on the West Coast during the NCAA Tournament. This is one of my favorite spots that never gets the national love.

Duke: This is a blue sauna. I don’t care what the temperature is outside because Cameron is always hot. The students — undergrads and grad students — are always out in force. There isn’t a bad viewing spot in the house. Covering a game at Cameron can be suffocating because of how close the fans are to the media. Still, Cameron never seems to be off. It’s always on.

Purdue: Mackey Arena has become my favorite in the Big Ten over the past five years. That has coincided with the Boilermakers being a Big Ten contender. The noise bounces off the metal domed roof and creates a cauldron of noise. The Paint Crew is always out en masse. The black and gold are imposing, loud and educated fans. Mackey’s raised seats also give an intimidating feel.

Rutgers: Jersey Mike’s Arena, formerly the RAC, is one of my favorites. Steve Pikiell has helped create one of the best environments in college basketball. Rutgers has been beatable at times, but only if the Scarlet Knights are off. The atmosphere is never down. The fans are so passionate and Jersey strong. The student section has been tremendous the past few seasons.

Tier 2: Next in line

Kentucky: Normally, Rupp Arena and Big Blue Nation are a combination that makes winning in Lexington nearly impossible. But South Carolina just went in and won there. So, maybe for this season, I’ll put Kentucky on Tier 2.

North Carolina: The Smith Center has traditionally been one of the toughest spots to get a win in the ACC. There have been some home losses, but the crowds are usually on their game. Again, this is a spot that has never disappointed me.

Indiana: I know the Hoosiers have lost at home, but when Assembly Hall – which it will always be that for me – is amped, there are few better arenas. I was there for the win over North Carolina and the atmosphere was top 10. It’s very loud in Bloomington. I’m not a huge fan of how the stands go up and out rather than hovering over the court. Still, you can’t debate the noise.

Creighton: Creighton fans show up in force. CHI Health Center is consistently is one of the most attended arenas in men’s college hoops. Creighton has been beatable this season, but in large part because of injuries. The home loss to Nebraska was a shocker at the time. Still, I would take Creighton at home on most nights.

Gonzaga: The Kennel student section is one of the best in the country. They are loud, proud and provide entertainment for every home game. I have found myself just mesmerized by their ability to rock, chant and sing. They have become one of the best student sections in the country.

Tier 3: On the rise

UConn: UConn fans have been passionate about their team, especially the past two seasons. But the issue is that they split their games between Gampel Pavilion and the XL Center. Gampel games aren’t as crazed at the XL Center.

Providence: The Amp, formerly the Dunk, has become one of the best environments in the Big East. The Friars are in every game at home because of their tremendous home-court advantage.

Michigan State: The Izzone has always been a constant. The team is traditionally competitive. And beating the Spartans in East Lansing is always a chore.

Iowa State: I know, I know, Hilton Coliseum should be higher. But I’m slightly embarrassed to say that in three decades, I’ve never been. For whatever reason, I have always seen the Cyclones on the road or neutral courts. I’m sure I would move Hilton higher after a visit.

Arkansas: Just like I’ve never made the trip to Hilton Coliseum, I’ve also never been to Bud Walton Arena. Not going to Hilton and Bud Walton is a major miss by me. Somehow both areas have eluded my travels.

Tier 4: Hard to keep them down this far

San Diego State: Viejas Arena, which has The Show, has become one of the best student sections in the country. They are creative, loud and into the game at every possession. I was there for the home win over BYU during the first week of the season, and you would have thought it was late February. The passion is real.

Xavier: Sean Miller walked into a tremendous home court at Cintas. He knew it since he had coached in it prior. But it seems like it’s even more imposing now.

New Mexico: The Pit is back. I covered UNM in the early ‘90s when the Pit was in its heyday. The Pit is a mile high and louder than … Those are the words as you walk down the ramp into the Pit (it’s built into the ground). Having a sold-out Pit is one of the best home-court advantages in the country.

Illinois: The State Farm Center is one of the best in the country when it’s rocking. The Orange Krush, which is the school’s student section, is a terrific idea with the fans all clad in Illini orange.

Wisconsin: The Kohl Center has lost a bit of its imposing nature. The Badgers aren’t as automatic as they used to be. I’m biased. I loved the old Field House. 

Tier 5: Can’t ignore them

Tennessee: I know Vols fans are going to be all over me for having Tennessee this low. But I always thought the arena was too big to match Rupp. Having it more intimate would have made more sense.

Virginia: Getting to John Paul Jones Arena is also on my list. For some reason, I’ve been absent on this road swing. But I have heard wonderful things about a packed UVA house.

Texas Tech: I went to Lubbock during the Bob Knight era. The atmosphere at United Supermarkets Arena was good then. It’s even better now.

Auburn: Bruce Pearl has made Auburn basketball matter again. The relevancy has coincided with a hidden gem home court in the SEC.

Kansas State: When Bramlage is rocking, the Wildcats are a tough out in Manhattan. That could be the case this season as the team is off to an impressive 15-1 start.

Marquette: The Golden Eagles faithful have made Fiserv Forum one of the toughest places to get a win in the Big East. 

Andy Katz is a longtime college basketball writer, analyst and host. He can be seen on the Big Ten Network, as well as March Madness and NCAA.com, and he hosts the podcast “March Madness 365.” Katz worked at ESPN for nearly two decades and, prior to that, in newspapers for nine years.

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