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Top 10 arenas in the country
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Sometimes the venue that a team must play in can be as big a factor as the team it's playing against.
From the Cameron Crazies to the rowdy Irish faithful inside the Joyce Center, college basketball's spirit and tradition rests largely within its arenas and particularly in its student sections.
And while each gym differs in size, look and ambiance, only some can make you feel as if you're part of the action.
Once again, choosing which ones to keep on and off of this list did not come without struggle. There are only 10 spots, and there are more than 10 great arenas in college basketball.
Yes, I realize that North Carolina's Dean Smith Center, Michigan State's Breslin Center, Oklahoma State's Gallagher-Iba Arena, Louisville's Freedom Hall, Arkansas' Bud Walton Arena, Syracuse's Carrier Dome, Washington's Bank of America Arena, Illinois' Assembly Hall, Butler's Hinkle Fieldhouse, Florida's O'Connell Center, Southern Illinois' SIU Arena, Gonzaga's McCarthey Athletic Center and UC Santa Barbara's Thunderdome were left out.
They're all great atmospheres for watching a game, too.
But if you're more than just the average NCAA basketball fan, these 10 stadiums are ones that you've got to visit before you die.
Honorable Mention: Louis Brown Athletic Center, Rutgers
Piscataway, N.J., isn't a city to write home about, but "The RAC" is one of the loudest and most
intimidating environments in college basketball. The fans, for one, are right on top of the players, while the actual structure of the building (in the shape of a condensed tent) might contain more sound than a private concert hall.
10. Pauley Pavilion, UCLA
With 11 national championship banners hanging from the rafters, it's hard to leave the Bruins' long-standing arena out of the conversation. And while Pauley won't exactly look the same after its $185-million facelift, it will always be remembered for showcasing some of the game's greats — Lew Alcindor, Bill Walton and Gail Goodrich to name a few — during their time in Westwood.
9. Kohl Center, Wisconsin
There's a reason why the Badgers are one of the best home teams in the nation, and it's largely due to the fact that "the Grateful Red" remains one of the most passionate student sections in all of college basketball. In fact, between the 2001 and 2007 seasons, Wisconsin managed to lose only 11 times while compiling 125 wins at the Kohl Center — that's what you call home-court advantage.
8. McArthur Court, Oregon
It's been a few years since the Ducks were considered a national power, but "Mac Court" (also known as "The Pit") still knows how to pack a punch. The maple floor, in particular, bounces under the weight of the student section, which completely surrounds the court, while the buildings' outdated configuration has the fans nearly hovering over the players.
7. Edmund P. Joyce Center, Notre Dame
The Irish historically are known as a football school, but the basketball program has witnessed some major landmarks inside the Joyce Center, including the end of UCLA's NCAA record 88-game winning streak. Nowadays, the arena and its boisterous fans provide a significant home-court advantage for Notre Dame, which rattled off 45 straight wins at home before losing to Big East foe Connecticut last season.
6. University Arena, New Mexico
There really isn't anything else like "The Pit" in college basketball. With the court submerged 37 feet below grade level, Joe Boehning's architectural experiment during the 1960s has since produced one of the most hostile environments to play in over the last 40 years.
5. The Palestra, Penn
The Quakers might not exactly be high profile, but they do play in the Cathedral of College Basketball. With only 8,722 seats and the stadium's bleachers hugging the court, things can get pretty noisy in this historic University City arena, especially when the Big 5 schools go toe to toe every fall.
4. Assembly Hall, Indiana
Indiana basketball might be going through some tough times of late, but it has one of the most dedicated fan bases of any Division I program. Opposing teams, particularly those from the Big Ten, can be sure to face deafening decibel levels when they come to Assembly Hall, which is what has made the Hoosiers such a tough home team — including winning streaks of 50 and 35 games — in the past.
3. Rupp Arena, Kentucky
With a capacity of 23,500, the Wildcats' home looks more like a football stadium than a college basketball gym despite remaining one of the sport's most renowned shrines. At the time of its opening in 1976, Rupp was the largest arena ever built for basketball, and it still is while leading the nation in attendance year after year.
2. Allen Fieldhouse, Kansas
When it comes to college basketball tradition, there might not be a stadium with more charisma than "The Phog." Resembling the look of an old Kansas barn, Allen Fieldhouse has been home to more than 600 victories by the Jayhawks — including 64 straight between 1994-1998 — thanks to a student section that's one of the most animated and raucous in the country.
1. Cameron Indoor Stadium, Duke
When you think of college basketball, you think of Cameron. Between Krzyzewskiville, the Cameron Crazies and press row on top of Coach K Court, there's really no atmosphere as intense and exciting as the Blue Devils'.