America's Most Underappreciated
If you're a withdrawing college hoops junkie (or a recovering Mathlete), you can have
No sport showcases the tribal passions of its fans as a selling point quite like college basketball, so it's interesting to look into which schools enjoy the most steadfast support. And the only quantitative measure of this intangible is the turnstile count.
But since the venue sizes across college basketball vary dramatically, raw attendance numbers are worthless for a comparative study. Instead, we've calculated the
These results were interesting enough: Eight BCS programs -- Louisville, Illinois, Kansas, Wisconsin, Duke, Michigan State, Maryland and Georgia Tech -- didn't play in front of a single empty seat in their home buildings during the '07-08 season, reporting perfect or better attendance rates.
But an examination of college basketball's most
It's an unscientific study, but the results can prove revealing.
So, limiting the scope to the 73 teams in the Big Six conferences, here is SIOC's list of the most underappreciated programs in major college basketball this past season:
The Orange, national champions just five years ago, present an interesting case. Syracuse managed to rank third overall in raw attendance despite filling just over half the seats in their cavernous home building. Their traditionally cupcake-laden home schedule prior to Big East play also drags down the numbers, along with underwhelming crowds for three NIT games at the end of the season -- including a surprisingly sparse draw against Maryland (14,768). But while the Orange aren't pumping out 30,000-person crowds on a consistent basis like during the
With a lofty preseason ranking, pronounced Final Four aspirations and a bundle of returning principals from the previous year's Sweet 16 team, Tennessee pumped in healthy crowds for most of the season and finished an impressive fourth in raw attendance -- no small accomplishment for a traditional football school. But despite
The Cougars returned 11 of their top 12 scorers and entered the season with Final Four expectations, but the fans didn't turn out in full force until the Pac-10 schedule got underway. Wazzu averaged a ho-hum 6,234 spectators for seven non-conference games, just over half of the arena's capacity. Lowlights included non-conference meetings with Mississippi Valley State (2,509) and Air Force (3,585).
The Bruins returned everybody except
Boasting the third largest single-campus enrollment in the country behind Ohio State and Florida, Arizona State fans have no excuse. The Sun Devils won 21 games this year -- including wins against esteemed national programs like Arizona, Xavier and Stanford -- as
With just 7,000 seats to fill and a schedule littered with appealing ACC opponents, the Hurricanes shouldn't have much of a challenge on the marketing front. But Miami still sold out just two games -- North Carolina and Georgia Tech -- and couldn't fill the house for a 96-95 victory over then-No. 5 Duke. It's too bad: The surprising 'Canes won 23 games and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament despite getting picked to finish last in the conference. Attendance totals for early-season meetings with Morgan State (1,777) and Stetson (1,793) were embarassingly low.
During the '06-07 season, the Hoyas broke 30 wins and advanced to the Final Four -- and still topped these rankings thanks to a lukewarm 56.5 percent attendance rate. This year, Georgetown enjoyed the second-largest attendance spike in Division I after Southern California -- jumping from 10,441 to 12,955 fans -- but