Over the last decade, the Big Ten has validated itself as one of the nation’s best and deepest basketball conferences. Not everything has gone perfectly, but it’s been a great run for most teams in the league.
Undoubtedly, one of the factors of the Big Ten’s rise on the hardwood has been its exceptional collection of home-court advantages: great crowds, passionate fans, and fantastic arenas.
Today’s U has taken the liberty of ranking each Big Ten arena. This post will rank Nos. 8-14, with No. 1-7 coming later this week.
Big Ten Basketball Arena Rankings
14. Bryce Jordan Center — Penn State Nittany Lions
Although Penn State has pulled off some shocking upsets at home in recent years (Indiana and Iowa last year and Michigan in 2013), its home environment hasn’t been particularly intimidating for opposing teams.
The fans who do show up are generally engaged, but more often than not, the PSU program has used a curtain to mask its underwhelming attendance. Times could be changing with an exciting 2016 recruiting class coming to campus, but for now, Bryce Jordan Center is the Big Ten’s weakest arena.
13. Louis Brown Athletic Center (“The RAC”) — Rutgers Scarlet Knights
If there’s one moment that embodies Rutgers’ time in the Big Ten, it’s the team’s amazing upset over Wisconsin in January of 2015. It was an incredible moment that stands for what the program can be at its height and — more importantly — what the RAC can become.
Unfortunately, that moment stands alone for a few reasons. The team has struggled so badly in recent years, which cuts against the fan base’s ability to create and sustain an electric environment. Until the RAC’s home team improves its level of performance, the venue will remain toward the bottom of Big Ten arenas.
12. Welsh-Ryan Arena — Northwestern Wildcats
Northwestern hasn’t exactly been an elite basketball school. However, even with just an 8,117-seat capacity, Welsh-Ryan has taken a step forward during the last few years. In particular, the consistent presence from the Wildside (Northwestern’s student section) has spiced up the atmosphere in the old gym.
Unfortunately, Northwestern has built a reputation for dealing with more road fans than most. For that reason, Welsh-Ryan settles in at No. 12 on this list.
11. Value City Arena — Ohio State Buckeyes
It might seem odd to put one of the nation’s largest arenas (18,809 capacity) this low, but it’s for specific reasons. Ohio State has been very successful and has played well at home over the last few years, but the lackluster environment prevents Value City from being higher.
Consider that Ohio State mustered only 65 percent of its capacity last season (a rough estimate). The Buckeyes still had a lot of fans in the stands, but when it’s closer to half-empty than full, it’s hard to put Value City Arena much higher.
10. State Farm Center — Illinois Fighting Illini
With its recent arena renovations now done, Illinois can once again look toward its home court for a major advantage. With the Orange Krush in the Illini’s corner, getting wins in Champaign should be quite a challenge.
Ultimately, whether Illinois can regain the home-court advantage it held in the early 2000s remains doubtful. Perhaps a new season and improved recruiting can get things going, but as things currently sit, State Farm Center lands at No. 10.
9. Pinnacle Bank Arena — Nebraska Cornhuskers
For many Big Ten fans, this is a surprising pick. Nebraska has never been considered a national basketball power or a school with a particularly great home-court advantage. If Nebraska was a national power, it probably wouldn’t struggle so profoundly to make the postseason.
Nonetheless, Pinnacle Bank Arena comes in at No. 9 thanks to the extreme passion of its fans. Despite an historic lack of success, Nebraska somehow came in at No. 11 in national attendance last season. Regardless of overall record, that’s an outstanding track record of fan support and dedication.
8. Williams Arena (“The Barn”) — Minnesota Golden Gophers
Williams Arena is one of the most historic and unique arenas in the Big Ten and the nation. Additionally, with a 14,625 capacity, it’s more than big enough to create a raucous environment.
Unfortunately, that home crowd hasn’t quite been good enough to protect its venerable lair over the last few years. The program continues to trend downward. As such, The Barn is lower on this list than many Gopher fans might have hoped.
Check out Today’s U list of the No. 1 through No. 7 Big Ten arenas later this week.