The Totally Non-Biased, Definitive Rankings of the Big Ten Basketball Arenas

By jw13
Jan. 18, 2017

I’ve got a bone to pick.

Scout dot com put out an article ranking the top 100 sports stadiums across all sports. That included NFL, NBA, NHL, NCAAF, NCAAB, and others. I won’t say much, but this ranking had the Crisler Center as one of the premier arenas in the Big Ten. It also had Soldier Field. This is when I knew the list was invalid. Soldier Field is one of the biggest embarrassments to the city of Chicago and the NFL. But we’re a college blog so what do we know. This article did get me thinking however. What would I rank the Big Ten Arenas as? Everyone knows they are amongst the best in NCAAB, but what is the true ranking?

A few factors decided my list. I love unique arenas. And as you’ll see the Big Ten has some very unique arenas. I also love student sections and their involvement in the game. Another factor that I kept in mind is the general overall attendance. Overall I will include experience, student section, quality, attendance, and "difficulty to win" level. So, without further ado, here is the list. 

1. Mackey Arena – West Lafayette, Indiana (capacity 14,805)

Mackey Arena

117 decibels. The Paint Crew. Boiler Brass. Boiler Lights. Mackey Arena provides the hands down best college basketball experience of every Big Ten Arena. I would continue to sing the praises of Mackey Arena but they have already been sung. Consistently lauded as one of the best the Big Ten has to offer, we obviously tend to agree.

2. Kohl Center – Madison, Wisconsin (capacity 17,230)

Kohl Center

Always have respect for Wisconsin. The Kohl Center has a ridiculous home court advantage. Their fans are rowdy as hell all the time. It is unique, clean, and just an all-around great college basketball arena.

3. Breslin Center – East Lansing, Michigan (capacity 15,000)

Breslin Center

The Breslin Center has historically been another one of those arenas that are very, very difficult to win in when it is rocking. The Izzone is definitely one of the better student sections in the league I personally like their position to the court. While I like the Paint Crew’s split position, I prefer the student section on the floor and on TV at all times.

4. Xfinity Center – College Park, Maryland (capacity 17,950)

Xfinity Center

One of the newer members actually was a valuable addition it turns out. Xfinity is a great arena and definitely belongs amongst the Big Ten’s best. Their student section runs up the entire length of one of the ends of the court. When they coordinate the colors, it is a sight to behold.

5. Crisler Center – Ann Arbor, Michigan (capacity 13,751)

Crisler Center

I will admit that the Crisler Center would be up higher, but it has fallen off the wayside as of late. This may be due to the fact that Michigan basketball has been average since 2013. There is a reason that an anonymous UM student called the student section the “Laze Rage” a play on their name, “Maize Rage”. It seems like the only thing that gets this arena rocking anymore is the occasional big game.

6. Williams Arena – Minneapolis, Minnesota (capacity 14,625)

Williams Arena

Williams Arena, more commonly The Barn, is a great Big Ten arena. It is incredibly unique with the lifted court. The arched ceilings give it a unique look as well. I could only imagine what this place was like when Minnesota was good.

7. Pinnacle Bank Arena – Lincoln, Nebraska (capacity 15,500)

Pinnacle Bank Arena

Oh Pinnacle. It looks very space age on the outside and is unique on the inside. The biggest problem here is the attendance issues. Pinnacle Bank rarely sells out anymore. I have to applaud the student section however. The little newspaper thing they do is cute. It reminds me of my days in High School.

8. State Farm Center – Champaign, Illinois (capacity 17,200)

State-Farm Center

Wow you learn something new everyday. During my research I didn’t know it was capable of that many. Apparently it has about 16,000 permanent seats with an official capacity of 16,618 for basketball but when portable chairs are put in (?) the capacity increases. That’s the most interesting thing about the State Farm Center. Orange Crush is great but they only make it so good. Thankfully there is plenty of room on the court for Groce to run out and get dangerously close to players.

Here's where it gets baddddddddddd

9. Bryce Jordan Center – University Park, Pennsylvania (capacity 15,261)

Bryce-Jordan Center

Certainly among the worst the Big Ten has to offer, there is a reason it is called the mausoleum. It’s called that because no one ever goes to games. They have a paltry student section, and its not much better in the rest of the arena. Plus, it is an NBA style arena, which I greatly dislike in the college game.

10. Assembly Hall – Bloomington, Indiana (capacity 17,222)

Assembly Hall

Next down the list is the good old Hall of Calls. The main reason for putting it so low is the way the stands are oriented. Look at that picture. How are you supposed to see from all the way up there? Ridiculous. Let’s not mention its structural questionability or its little “NCAA’s best tournament team banner”. Really not great.

11. Value City Arena – Columbus, Ohio (capacity 18,809)

Value City Arena

Where do we start. I hate Ohio State first of all. And I strongly dislike Value City Arena. It is an NBA style arena which provides zero home court advantage with the student section. The camera bay is too high so watching games is a pain. Then that one time they tried a new camera angle with the Michigan game last spring. Maybe that was ESPN’s fault but still. Just terrible.

12. Carver-Hawkeye Arena – Iowa City, Iowa (capacity 15,500)

Carver-Hawkeye

The only reason this isn’t last is because it isn’t a high school arena. This is a wrestling gym disguised as a basketball arena. My biggest gripe with Carver-Hawkeye is the amount of light that is let in from outside. It’s just a bad look for a Big Ten team. It is not necessarily known as one of the hardest arenas in the Big Ten either.

13. Welsh-Ryan Arena – Evanston, Illinois (capacity 8,117)

Welsh-Ryan

I want to like Welsh-Ryan. I really do. And with the coming renovations, maybe I can move it higher. But at its current state, it is a high school arena. There are 3 high school gyms in Indiana alone that are bigger than it. It is very unique but I just can’t put it any higher than 13.

14. Rutgers Athletic Center – Piscataway, New Jersey (capacity 8,000)


The RAC

It’s Rutgers what did you expect? The only redeeming factor of the RAC is its uniqueness. Other than that, it’s a quiet, old arena that is in desperate need of a replacement if Rutgers is going to get better.

So there you have it. The totally non-biased, definitive rankings of the Big Ten college basketball arenas. What do you think? Let’s embrace debate and at me know Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, or in the comments below.