If there’s one thing I love most about college basketball it’s got to be tradition. And while tradition may be measured by a long list of different components, we can’t forget about the arena. No matter how big or small, college basketball arenas provide some of the best atmospheres in sports. Between the rowdy student sections and the never-ending tradition these arenas carry you can never go wrong. So as a tribute to the most historic venues in college basketball, we’ve narrowed down the ten best in the entire country. Check to see if your team made the list.
10. Assembly Hall, Indiana University
Indiana’s Assembly Hall first debuted in 1971 and has since become one of the most historical arenas in college hoops. Banners commemorating National Championships line the walls and the beautiful hardwood court make Assembly Hall truly a one-of-a-kind. Assembly Hall has stood the test of time avoiding a possible demolition in 2013 just proving that you can’t mess with perfection.
9. Memorial Gymnasium, Vanderbilt University
Vanderbilt flipped the script for designing college basketball arenas when Memorial opened its doors in 1952. With the elevated floor, benches located behind the baseline and the position of the student section give Vanderbilt one of the most unique atmospheres in college basketball. Rather than fans being right on top of Vandy’s opponents, they’re underneath them, giving them the perfect chance to pound on the court in an effort to rattle your cage (which most the time it works).
8. Hinkle Fieldhouse, Butler University
This historic venue is one of the oldest college basketball arenas still in use and is even considered a National Historic Landmark. Hinkle Fieldhouse has played a pivotal role in the development of basketball in Indiana and is one of the earliest college fieldhouses. And on top of playing host to Butler University, Hinkle Fieldhouse is where the movie Hoosiers was shot–as if it wasn’t already historic enough for you.
7. Gallagher-Iba Arena, Oklahoma State University
This historic arena first opened in 1938 and has since been widely regarded as one of the toughest places to play in college hoops. The beautiful white maple court and see of orange that surrounds it have granted Gallagher-Iba Arena “The Madison Square Garden of the Plains”. All but two seats in the arena are filled every night to witness a Cowboys basketball game, and those two seats are forever reserved in honor of the two legendary coaches the arena is named for.
6. Dean Smith Center, University of North Carolina
Considering it only opened in 1986, the Smith Center has wasted no time in earning itself quite the reputation. Whether it’s the Carolina Blue that covers the arena or the jerseys of legends such as Michael Jordan and James Worthy that hang from the rafters, the Smith Center is one of the greatest arenas in the country.
5. Carrier Dome, Syracuse University
While playing host to the Syracuse football, basketball and lacrosse teams, the Carrier Dome is full of history and tradition. The dome is the largest domed stadium in all of college sports with a seating capacity for basketball games just above 35,000 screaming fans. Many of the NCAA’s attendance records were in face set at the Carrier Dome, including Syracuse’s 91-89 victory over Duke earlier this year with an attendance of 35,446. The Carrier Dome has played host to a number of post-season games and a slew of Syracuse legends such as Gerry McNamara and Carmelo Anthony.
4. The Palestra, University of Pennsylvania
The Palestra, dubbed the “Cathedral of College Basketball”, first opened its doors back in 1926 and has been making history ever since. The Palestra is known for its close-to-the-court seating that puts fans right on top of the action and is widely regarded as one of the first modern steel-and-concrete arenas in the US. Since it first opened in the 1920s, the Palestra has hosted more games, visiting teams and NCAA tournaments than any other facility in college basketball history.
3. Allen Fieldhouse, University of Kansas
The Kansas Jayhawks have called Allen Fieldhouse home since the 1955 season. Better known simply as “The Phog”, Allen Fieldhouse has created one of the toughest home-court advantage in all of sports (having only lost three home games since 2007). Believe me, there’s no shortage of tradition here. From the famed Rock Chalk Chant to the reading of newspapers during the announcement of the visitors starting lineup and the retired numbers of Wilt Chamberlain and Danny Manning, Allen Fieldhouse is one of the most intimidating atmospheres in college hoops.
2. Rupp Arena, University of Kentucky
Opened in the mid-1970s, Kentucky’s Rupp Arena is the place to be in Lexington during basketball season. Whether it’s the championship banners hanging from the rafters or Ashley Judd in the crowd, Rupp Arena is steeped in tradition and always a great place to take in a basketball game–just ask the 23,000 rowdy Kentucky fans who pack Rupp Arena every night to watch their beloved Wildcats.
1. Cameron Indoor Stadium, Duke University
This historic arena first opened in 1940 and provides one of the most unique experiences in college basketball. What makes Cameron Indoor Stadium such an iconic arena is the student section which is famously referred to as the Cameron Crazies. This is truly one of the more beautiful arenas in the country with a game day atmosphere like no other.