The college basketball season is winding down as we head into the Final Four this weekend. Three of the four teams remaining are nationally recognized programs, though for true college basketball fans Wichita State is a known power in the mid-major ranks. Each of these teams has won on the court to earn the chance to play for a national championship.
All great teams with incredible skills, yes, but there is one element that most teams critically need to win: fan support. The tournament mitigates this to a certain extent as games are mostly played in neutral locations. Yes, if your school is close, fans can create a home-like atmosphere, but nothing replaces a true home court advantage. If we took play on the court out of the equation and decided who would be the national champion based solely on the raucousness of their home crowd, would the Final Four look different? The four programs with the best home arenas based on home records, home winning streaks and raucus crowds are different from the current Final Four and the national champion would reside in Durham, North Carolina.
Earlier this year Andy Katz of ESPN provided us with his opinion on the best college basketball arenas.
There are lots of other opinions on who should be included in the top arenas, ranging from USA Today, to the Bleacher Report, to sites like Rants Sports. Even through all the various claims, there are four arenas that tend to stick out and thus are my final four: Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium, Kentucky’s Rupp Arena, Indiana’s Assembly Hall, and Kansas’s Allen Fieldhouse.
Duke’s presence on any list should not be a surprise. Cameron Indoor Stadium is one of the most intimidating places to play and the men’s team has a home record of 771-150. Kentucky has been playing in Rupp Arena since 1976 with a home record of 494-62 and a home winning streak of 55 games that ended this season. Indiana has had some recent struggles before Tom Crean revived the program, but Assembly Hall has been the home to win streaks of 50 and 35 games. Kansas is equally as impressive at Allen Fieldhouse where they boast a record of 353-26 and between 1994 and 1998 won 62 consecutive games.
Determining a winner from this group is not easy, especially with my documented bias against Duke and for Kentucky. However, despite my love for Big Blue Nation and the impressive résumé at home for each of these programs one sticks out. When you garner national attention for allegedly chanting “How’s Your Grandma” to an opposing player whose grandmother had died, then your fans have taken it to another level. As a result, the national championship based on home records, home winning streaks and raucus crowds would reside with Duke in Durham, NC. Don’t get too happy Duke fans; you still will trail Kentucky in national championship banners!