The logistics of college basketball make the game unique in terms of the importance of the ‘home court’ advantage. For example, the games are staged indoors, usually ‘on-campus,’ in facilities that are generally decades-old and full of historic importance. These venues are also almost always filled with students who tend to be loud, raucous and unforgiving.
Following are ten of the most difficult college basketball courts to play on, most notably for the opposing team.
10. Vanderbilt Memorial Gymnasium in Nashville. Capacity: 14,326, opened in 1952.
Although the Commodores has never been a consistent national power, they are historically more than competitive when playing at home. Memorial’s unorthodox configuration (the court is elevated and benches are situated beneath the baskets) can be unsettling for the opposition, as frequent upsets by Vanderbilt demonstrate.
9. The Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y. Capacity: 35,000, opened in 1980.
Size alone makes this cavernous facility imposing. The largest on-campus venue in the nation, the Carrier Dome holds the on-campus, single-game attendance record (35,466 versus Duke on 2/1/14), and the Orangemen have Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim on the sideline.
8. McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane, Wash. Capacity: 6,000, opened in 2004.
Home to the Gonzaga Bulldogs, the ‘Kennel’ boasts one of the most impressive home-court marks in the NCAA (162-12 from 2004-2016). The comfortable confines have helped the ‘Dogs become a national power in recent seasons.
7. Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Capacity: 15,000, opened in 1928.
Anyone who’s seen the film ‘Hoosiers’ should be familiar with the on-campus home of the Butler Bulldogs, which held the distinction of being the largest basketball facility in the nation for two decades. Notable fact: Hinkle’s playing surface is the original floor that was placed in 1928.
6. WisePies Arena, (aka the ‘Pit’) in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Capacity: 15,412, opened in 1966.
The ‘Pit’ is so named for its geographical features (situated at an elevation of 5,312 feet and located 37 feet below ground level), the ‘Pit’ is understandably deafeningly loud and provides a challenge regarding breathing and stamina for the opposition.
5. Kohl Center in Madison, Wis. Capacity: 17,230, opened in 1998.
Combine great coaches and players with an almost rabid fan base and you’ll quickly resurrect a long-dormant program like the Wisconsin Badgers. UW has won more than 87% of their games in Kohl.
4. Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Ind. Capacity: 17,222, opened in 1971.
Basketball is practically a religion in Indiana, and along with Hinkle Fieldhouse, Assembly Hall is hallowed ground in the state. The Hall’s unique steep-sided seating architecture can be unnerving to opponents, literally ‘washing’ them in noise.
3. Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky. Capacity: 23,500, opened in 1976.
Downtown Lexington becomes a virtual ghost-town on home game days when the Wildcats play host to (usually) unlucky opponents. UK is the winningest program in NCAA history, greatly helped by the Big Blue winning 89% of their home contests.
2. Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas. Capacity: 16,300, opened in 1955.
When a basketball court bears the name of the game’s inventor (James Naismith Court), it’s safe to assume that the occupants take their basketball seriously. Such is the case in the ‘Phog,’ where five national championship banners are on display, and the Jayhawks are almost always championship contenders.
1. Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C. Capacity: 9,314, opened in 1940.
Cozy-looking and surrounded by the pastoral Duke campus, Cameron is more often than not viewed by opponents as a nightmare when the Blue Devils take Coach K Court. The Cameron Crazies are loud, inventively clever with their heckling, and Mike Krzyzewski always has a deep roster loaded with blue-chippers, making a visit to Cameron quite a challenge.