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Men’s basketball attendance still strong

By Gary Johnson

Men’s basketball attendance for all three NCAA divisions in 2011-12 totaled 32,781,399 fans, which represents a slight increase from the previous year and ranks fifth all-time. The record is 33,396,316 from the 2008 season.

The Big Ten Conference led the nation for the 36th consecutive year in conference attendance. With the addition of Nebraska, the Big Ten’s 12 teams totaled a league-high 2,856,785 fans and averaged 12,868 per game.

For the seventh straight year and for the 16th time in the last 17 seasons, Kentucky led the nation in home attendance average at 23,721 fans per game. Syracuse was second at 23,618. One of those two schools has led the nation in each of the past 36 seasons.

Other highlights:

  • With the addition of three schools, the Division I attendance in 2012 was fourth all-time at 27,691,051 and showed an increase of 64,886 fans from 2011. The record was set in 2008 at 28,135,901. Division II totaled 2,790,743 fans and Division III had 1,999,814.
  • A record 338 Division I teams averaged 5,190 fans in a record 5,335 games or sessions this season. That’s down 47 fans per game from 2011.
  • After the Big Ten, the Southeastern (11,513), Big 12 (11,057), Big East (10,881) and Atlantic Coast (9,876) rounded out the top five in conference attendance average per game. The 16 teams of the Big East totaled 3,133,782 fans, the fourth most ever for a conference. The record is 3,259,992 by the Big East in 2007.
  • Four of those top five conferences in average attendance totaled more than two million fans each. Also, four of the 32 Division I conferences set a league best for total attendance. The four were the Big Ten (previous best was in 2007), Pac-12 (2008), Mid-Eastern (2011) and Northeast (2011).
  • Playing one more home game than Kentucky, Syracuse took advantage of 19 home games to lead the nation in total home attendance with 448,736 fans. Next was Louisville (430,052 in 20 games), Kentucky (426,978 in 18), North Carolina (362,867 in 18), Ohio State (330,210 in 20), and Memphis (324,670 in 20).
  • For all-game attendance – including home, road and neutral site games – national-champion Kentucky broke a 23-year-old mark as 885,953 fans watched the Wildcats over 40 games. The former record was held by Syracuse with 855,053 fans in 1989. Nine teams played in front more than half-a-million fans in 2012.
  • Five Division I teams this season enjoyed increased crowds of more than 2,000 fans per game from the previous season. Leading the way was Creighton with a 3,157-person increase per game from 2011 to 2012. The Bluejays tied a school-record high of 29 wins while featuring consensus All-American Doug McDermott and set a Missouri Valley Conference single-season record for average attendance per game. The other schools that enjoyed the 2,000-plus fan increase per game were Mississippi State (2,309), Temple (2,239), Murray State (2,082) and Denver (2,072).
  • The Division I championship tournament drew 717,185 spectators for an average of 19,922 fans per session over 36 sessions. That total is fifth all-time.
  • The Division II tournament totaled 70,468 fans for a 1,957 average over 36 sessions. The Division III tournament had 59,492 fans for a 1,352 average in 44 sessions.
  • In Division II, Northern State captured the attendance title for the fifth straight season, averaging 3,382 fans per game. Next was Midwestern State at 3,094, followed by Dixie State (2,757), Augustana (S.D.) (2,712), and Kentucky Wesleyan (2,619).
  • In Division III, Hope ran away with its 10th straight attendance title by averaging 3,259 per game, which was more than double the runner-up. The rest of the top five were Wooster (1,607), Wisconsin-Stevens Point (1,474), Calvin (1,397), and Franklin & Marshall (1,311). Hope’s total attendance of 52,151 was the second highest in Division III history. The record of 52,719 was set by Hope in 2006.
  • For Division II conferences, the 11-team Mid-America Intercollegiate recorded its fourth straight attendance title by averaging 1,635 per game. The Northern Sun was runner-up at 1,417 fans per game.
  • In Division III, the eight-team Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Conference earned its 21st consecutive conference title at 980 fans per game.



2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Attendance

See detailed men's basketball attendance figures for all three divisions here.