One of the things I love about college basketball is seeing the different atmospheres and great home-court advantages.
A lot of people know about Phog Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas. The fans scream "Rock chalk, Jayhawk, KU!" and the environment is just so special. I also love going out to Bluegrass Country in Lexington because Rupp Arena is home to the most passionate fans in the sport. They bleed blue rooting for their Wildcats!
Let me tell you, there are so many exciting places to see college basketball action. Here are five that may not get as much exposure, but have been so spectacular over the years:
I'll start with a place that is near to my heart because of a special moment. Back in 1983, The Pit in Albuquerque, New Mexico was the site of one of the greatest David vs. Goliath events. Jimmy V and his NC State Wolfpack shocked America by knocking off Phi Slama Jama in the title game.
The Pit has been a tough place for opponents of the New Mexico Lobos. It is a great home-court edge these days for Steve Alford and his well-regarded squad.
Pittsburgh's Jamie Dixon has also seen his program put up impressive numbers at home over the years. I love the Oakland Zoo; those fans are so close to the court. They can get really loud in there, making a difference for the Panthers.
I love the enthusiasm and spirit of the fans wearing orange down at Clemson. Littlejohn Coliseum was opened back in 1968, and it has been really tough for ACC visitors to come in and get to the winner's circle. Go ask Roy Williams and North Carolina what happened earlier this season. I can't wait to get there this week when College Gameday and the Dukies come to town.
At Xavier, the Cintas Center holds over 10,000 seats. I have been fortunate enough to call games in the underrated rivalry between Cincinnati and Xavier and my friends, they have been wars. It is a great place to catch a game.
Memorial Gym at Vanderbilt is also a very difficult place for opponents to play. For starters, the benches are on the baseline, giving the Commodores a real home-court advantage. It is an adjustment for opposing coaches and players to come into Nashville and deal with that.
Those are five often overlooked places to catch the enthusiasm and excitement of college basketball, baby!