What separates college basketball from the NBA and other sporting events? The insane passion that fans bring in on a nightly basis.. here's some of college basketball's best support sections:
1. Duke – The Cameron Crazies are the epitome of what a student section should be. Their seating lines the court all the way up to the front row, and is big factor in what makes Cameron Indoor the toughest place to play in the country. A good friend of mine was a straight – A student until his freshman year at Duke, when he camped out with several other friends in Krzyzewskiville for over a month for the North Carolina game and ended up with a 2.5 GPA for the semester. But was it worth it? “Absolutely” he said.
2. Kentucky – Not only does Kentucky have one of the best student sections, but they also have one of the best overall fan bases. With a capacity of 23,500, Rupp Arena is the third largest venue in college basketball. Students wait in the freezing cold for up to 12 hours before gametime. In honor of former coach Tubby Smith being from Scotland, MD, students dress in blue plaid, kilts, and face paint down in the “eRUPPtion Zone,” the standing-room only section behind one of the baskets.
3. Michigan State – The Breslin Center is commonly regarded as the toughest place to play in the Big Ten. Students have to regularly attend games for their first three years to get a shot at seats in the lower bowl their senior year. Plus it just sounds cool to sit in the Izzone.
4. Illinois – The Orange Krush make Assembly Hall in Champaign, IL a brutal place to play, as many of them are seated right on the floor. Not only are they loud, but they’re incredibly nasty, and got a lot of heat for how they treated Eric Gordon’s parents when Indiana came to town last year.
5. Kansas – The student sections at the Allen Fieldhouse are a big part of what make this venue so great. Students sit directly behind the south basket and the entire north end of the court. The Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk chant is arguably the most well-known these days in college basketball. Students camp out for upcoming games as soon as the current home game ends.
6. Washington – Hec Edmundson (Hec Ed) is arguably the toughest place to play in the Pac-10. The athletic department has gotten very creative in recent years. How do you get students to buy tickets for a football team that just went 0-12? By ensuring priority for basketball tickets! Former Washington State coach Dick Bennett got so mad at the student section that he once flipped them the bird. My personal favorite part about the Husky faithful: they randomly break into “Total Eclipse of the Heart” while waiting all day for a 7 p.m. game.
7. Pittsburgh – The students at the Zoo make the Petersen Events center a brutal place to play. Since they’ve begun play here, Pitt has won over 90% of its home games, and has only lost once in non-conference play.
8. Gonzaga – Bulldog fans have one notable trademark: “Support the ‘Stache.” This of course refers to ‘Zags great Adam Morrison who sported the pencil-thin mustache. Students honor him by wearing fake mustaches to all home games. Students also live up to their Jesuit academic reputation by doing thorough research on the opposition, checking GPA, police records, etc. to come up with original chants against their WCC brethren.
9. North Carolina – The Dean Dome has one of the highest attendance rates in the country at just over 19,000 per game, 6,000 of which are students clad in powder blue. Only two contestants on College Gameday have made the half court shot, one of them being a Tar Heel. The other? Arch-rival Duke.
10. New Mexico – You may not think it at first, but “The Pit” is a phenomenal venue for college basketball. Since it’s built underground, its acoustics make it one of the loudest in the land. It also ranked in the top 10 for attendance for a 35-year time span. The #1 fan for the Lobos is Mark 'Snake' Tichenor, who’s only missed one home game in the last 30 years.
Others: The Barnyard of Minnesota, Nittany Nation of Penn State, Grateful Red of Wisconsin, the general student body at Indiana (not really a unified student section though). (Plus as mentioned in the comments section: Screamin Deacons of Wake Forest, the Rowdy Reptiles of Florida, Utah State's general atmosphere, Purdue's Paint Crew, the Bud Walton crowd at Arkansas games). Post other named/somewhat official student sections in the comments section below.
What's your favorite college basketball cheering section? Lets hear about it below: