Jim Delany

Big Ten, Kentucky once again on top of national attendance rankings

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The more things change in college basketball, the more they stay the same.

The NCAA released its attendance numbers for 2011-12, and the leaders in both the conference and individual school rankings should come as no surprise to anyone who follows the sport.

For the 36th straight season the Big Ten leads the way in conference attendance, as 2,856,785 fans filled league arenas. That number is good for an average of 12,868 fans per game.

Rounding out the top five are the SEC (11,513 fans per game), Big 12 (11,057), Big East (10,881) and ACC (9,876).

The Pac-12 finished seventh in average attendance (7,143), but the number to watch as they head into 2012-13 may actually be their average for conference tournament games.

In the league’s final season of playing the conference tournament in Los Angeles an average of just 8,938 fans took in the action at Staples Center.

That’s nearly 4,000 fewer fans than what the Mountain West averaged in Las Vegas (12,625).

With both tournaments (as well as the WAC) being played in Las Vegas in 2013 it will be interesting to see how the numbers change (if at all).

The school that led the country in attendance for the seventh straight season (and 16 of the last 17) is none other than Kentucky, who welcomed an averaged of 23,721 fans per game into Rupp Arena.

Following the Wildcats is Syracuse, who averaged 23,618 fans per game. The Orange, who had 19 home dates to Kentucky’s 18, led the nation in total fans with 448,736 filling the Carrier Dome.

Louisville, who finished second nationally in total fans (430,052), ranked third with an average attendance of 21,503 per game.

The Big Ten placed three teams in the Top 10: Wisconsin (17,181; 5th), Ohio State (16,511; 8th) and Indiana (16,462; 9th).

The highest-ranking non-BCS school was Creighton, who ranked sixth with an average of 16,665 fans per game.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

BUBBLE BANTER: All of the action on the fringe of the NCAA tournament

Fred VanVleet
(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
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Tonight’s bubble action. This post will be updated as the games are completed.

Cincinnati at UCF, 7:00 p.m.
Pitt at No. 12 Miami, 7:00 p.m.
No. 25 Wichita State at Drake, 8:00 p.m.
Ole Miss at Florida, 9:00 p.m.
Georgia at No. 22 Kentucky, 9:00 p.m.
Arkansas at Mississippi State, 9:00 p.m.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: A Big 12 and a Big Ten showdown

Denzel Valentine
(AP Photo/Al Goldis)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 10 West Virginia at No. 6 Kansas, 7:00 p.m.

The last time these two teams got together, West Virginia actually knocked off Kansas in Morgantown. It was the third time in the last three seasons that WVU has beaten KU at home. So there’s some revenge at stake here. But there’s also the whole Big 12 title race, which West Virginia currently leads. If the Mountaineers win tonight, they’ll be up by two games on Kansas with the tie breaker and just seven games left to play. The Jayhawks regular season title streak could be over if that happens.

THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 8 Michigan State at No. 18 Purdue, 7:00 p.m.

We think the Spartans are back to their early season form after wins over Maryland (at home), Northwestern, Rutgers and Michigan. If Michigan State really wants to prove something to the college basketball world, they will go into West Lafayette tonight and get a win. Denzel Valentine vs. Raphael Davis will be fun.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

  1. Pitt will pay a visit to No. 12 Miami in a game the Panthers could really use a win in. Pitt hasn’t been the most consistent team in the country and without adding a few quality wins they could be looking at the bubble.
  2. Duquesne will be paying a visit to No. 19 Dayton, who moved into a tie for first place in the Atlantic 10 thanks to VCU’s loss on Saturday.
  3. Georgia is right there on the bubble, and they will have a chance to try and push themselves into a better spot when they play at No. 22 Kentucky tonight.
  4. Creighton probably has to win out to have a shot of making the NCAA tournament, and that includes tonight, when they host No. 5 Xavier.
  5. No. 7 Virginia will be hosting Virginia Tech, who picked off the Wahoos in Blacksburg earlier this year.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 1 Villanova at DePaul, 8:30 p.m.
  • No. 25 Wichita State at Drake, 8:00 p.m.