Today’s U has taken the liberty of ranking each Big Ten arena. This post will rank the No. 1-7 arenas. You can check out the No. 8-14 rankings here.
Big Ten Basketball Arena Rankings
7. Crisler Center (Michigan Wolverines)
From 2011 through 2014, there might have been no place tougher to win in the Big Ten than Michigan’s Crisler Center. Nonetheless, with a few down years and decreasing crowds, some of that energy has dropped.
At its height, Crisler remains one of the best Big Ten arenas. However, there are too many average nights from the crowd to make the building higher on this list. If Wolverine fans can be more consistently intimidating, perhaps Crisler can move back up, but until then, it comes in at No. 7 in these rankings.
6. Carver-Hawkeye Arena (Iowa Hawkeyes)
Like Crisler, this is an arena that can rise to the occasion for the big games. Whether it’s a hyped non-conference showdown, a rivalry game, or a major Big Ten matchup, Carver-Hawkeye can get the blood flowing like few other arenas in the country.
Unfortunately, it loses a small degree of aura in a larger context: Without the sheer dominance displayed by some other teams on their home courts, it’s hard to put Carver-Hawkeye much higher.
5. Mackey Arena (Purdue Boilermakers)
At this point in the rankings, the differences become incredibly minute and insignificant. Nonetheless, Purdue’s Mackey Arena lands at No. 5 thanks to its impressive student section, consistent fan base, and unique structure.
Nonetheless, despite those great aspects, Purdue doesn’t quite have the same theatrical atmosphere as the arenas that land higher on this list. In essence, that’s the separating factor.
4. XFINITY Center (Maryland Terrapins)
Of the Big Ten’s recent additions (Maryland, Nebraska and Rutgers), there’s no debating that the Terps have made the biggest splash on the hardwood. A major part of that has been created by Maryland’s outstanding home-court advantage. No Big Ten team has been more dominant at home the last two years.
The only concern about Maryland’s home court environment is simply whether it will hold up. Maryland did have strong crowds in the ACC, but nothing like what it’s had recently. The Terps can certainly move up, but it will be interesting to see if the fans show the same support if the team takes a step back.
3. Breslin Center (Michigan State Spartans)
Perhaps no program in the Big Ten has a more impressive student section than Michigan State’s Izzone. Undoubtedly, the Izzone is a major factor in the Breslin’s place on this list. The rest of the crowd is still great, but the student section separates Breslin from other Big Ten arenas.
Even with the Izzone, the crowds in East Lansing lack an edge when teams such as Illinois and Nebraska come to Michigan State.
2. Kohl Center (Wisconsin Badgers)
By now, any Big Ten fan knows about Wisconsin’s recent dominance at home. Since Dick Bennett’s last few years in Madison, the team has been almost unbeatable at home. A few losses have emerged along the way (and even a few upsets), but perhaps no Big Ten team has been more consistently dominant at home in recent history.
Wisconsin has the loyal crowd, the main-event atmosphere, and the student section to compete with anybody in the Big Ten. However, it’s just a notch below the top selection on this list, which makes an impact even when the home team is underwhelming.
1. Assembly Hall (Indiana Hoosiers)
The No. 1 selection on this list should come as no surprise. Not only is Assembly Hall one of the toughest places to play, but its big-game atmosphere is virtually unrivaled across college basketball. Whether good or bad, Hoosier fans show up, are invested, and make things difficult on opponents.
Admittedly, Indiana seems to have lost its edge a tad during some of the smaller games on a schedule, but with a fierce student section and a deafening crowd, Assembly Hall comes in at No. 1 on the list of the best Big Ten arenas.