UNC, Louisville round out top four

INDIANAPOLIS -- Syracuse has ended Kentucky's nine-year run as the leader in men's basketball attendance.

The Orange averaged 22,978 a game in the Carrier Dome last season, beating Kentucky's average attendance of 22,520. NCAA champion North Carolina was third at 20,522 and Louisville was fourth at 18,746, according to figures released in this week's NCAA News.

Syracuse was the leader from 1985 to 1995, while Kentucky led the nation in average attendance since 1996.

Attendance for all NCAA men's games was just more than 30.5 million for the 2004-05 season. Of that, nearly 25.4 million attended Division I games, and both figures were within 200,000 of the season records set the previous year. It was also the third straight year that overall attendance topped 30 million.

Forty-three schools -- all in Division I -- averaged at least 10,000 fans last season. Eight of them were in the Big Ten, making it the top conference for the 29th straight season.

The top Division II schools were Virginia State (3,471) and Northern State (3,408), while the leaders for Division III were Hope (2,462) and Illinois Wesleyan (2,376). Division I Virginia Tech had the biggest increase from the previous year, rising from 6,342 per game in 2003-04 to 9,405 last season.

The leader in total attendance -- home, road and neutral courts -- was Illinois, with 711,798. North Carolina was second at 702,563, followed by Kentucky at 698,287 and Syracuse at 613,724.

The Atlantic Coast Conference set a record with almost 2 million fans, but its average of 11,097 was second to the Big Ten's 12,530. The SEC was third at 10,663, and the Big East was fourth at 10,396.