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Saturday, January 29, 2011

10 Toughest Places to Play in College Hoops

The 10 Toughest Places to Play in College Hoops

So what makes these hallowed halls inspire terror into the hearts of even the most self-assured players?

Is it the raucous fans, the agonizing taunts, the deafening chants, or maybe the aura of legends and lore?

Chances are it’s all of the above and then some.

Here we take a look at 10 of the nation’s most frightening arenas in college hoops today, in hopes of discovering why they are some of the most menacing places in all of sports.

No. 10: The Kohl Center- Home of the Wisconsin Badgers, the place has become somewhat of a black hole where teams rarely emerge victorious. Since 1998, the Badgers have registered an astonishing home record of 169-17.

This hallowed hall of the frigid north played host to a 38-game winning streak in the early 2000s, which came to an end in 2004 at the hands of the Illinois Fighting Illini, who were ranked number one in the nation at the time.

The student cheering section is a frenzy each and every game, and has been dubbed the "Grateful Red".

No. 9: Memorial Gymnasium- The Commodores home court is distinctly recognizable by its elevated floor giving a rather peculiar sense that the players are playing on a stage.

Built in 1952, and following a setup that was rather common at the time, the team benches are located at the ends of the hardwood. A one of a kind design in today’s college basketball configurations.

This makes things interesting as coaches are forced to call the shots from the baseline.

The sheer design gives Vandy a distinctive home court advantage as the fans, which seem to embrace the peculiarity of the arena, only create a bigger nuisance for visitors.

No. 8: The Breslin Center- Visiting teams should consider themselves one of the lucky few if they have been fortunate enough to snatch a win at the Breslin Center. You might liken the event as rare as the Clippers making the postseason.

The fans, bedecked in green or white, are known as the "Izzone" and create a ruckus like no other. According to a 2006 Sports Illustrated study, the Izzone is the third most guttural cheering section in the nation.

The Spartans recorded a ridiculous 53-game home-winning streak at the Bres between 1998-2002, and a 28-game winning streak from 2007 to 2009. The arena's current basketball court is the same floor where the Spartans won the 2000 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament, which was at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis

No. 7: Peterson Events Center- The “Pete”, home to the Panthers, is one of the nation’s premier arenas. This enigmatic place was voted the toughest place to play in the Big East Conference in an anonymous player poll conducted by Sports Illustrated in 2006.

The raucous Oakland Zoo is one of the most dedicated student sections in the country and is over 2,000 strong.

Since taking up residence at the Pete in 2002, Pitt boast an exceptional 132-11 home record, which includes a 31-game home winning streak from 2008-2010.

No. 6: Comcast Center-The Comcast Center is home to some of the most brutal and merciless fans in the country. The student section is based upon a loyalty points system, which ensures that the most passionate fans always gain seating.

The students of "Terp Mountain" have been known to get a little rowdy. Filling the first 10 rows of seats on all sides of the court, students are all over the visiting opponents. The opposing basket in the second half of games may be the most noticeable as the 2,600 seats that are located behind the basket, more commonly known as “The Wall” is an intimidating factor in its own right.

Just ask any opposing player attempting to hit a clutch free throw.

No. 5: The Carrier Dome- The mere mention of its name makes visiting players shake in their Nike’s. With a capacity of 33,000, it the nation's largest on-campus basketball arena, and there is always an endless sea of orange in attendance in Rochester.

Because of that, Syracuse has set numerous attendance records throughout the years including breaking the record for the largest on-campus attendance for a basketball game (34,616), as the Orange played cordial host and then dismantled the Villanova Wildcats, 95-77.

The atmosphere is like a rock concert – deafening.

No. 4: Gallagher-Iba Arena- Also known as the "Madison Square Garden of the Plains," Oklahoma State's arena was named the best college gymnasium in the country in 2001 by CBS Sportsline.com and the rowdiest too.

Pokes fans live up to that title, feeding the frenzy and intimidating all who enter through its doors. Throw in a visit by conference rival Oklahoma, and it’s pure pandemonium.

Through 71 tradition-rich seasons, historic Gallagher-Iba Arena remains home to more national championships than any other facility. From its original white maple floor to the numerous banners that fill the rafters, the place is a cathedral to the sport of basketball and a place where the ‘Boys have amassed nearly 700 victories.

No. 3: Rupp Arena-Maximum Capacity- Hailed as the Mecca of college basketball, the “Rupp” has led the NCAA in attendance 22 times, including 14 out of the last 15 seasons.

The legacy of the legendary players, coaches and teams that once roamed the bowels of this sacred site, still haunt opponents who visit here.

But it’s the fans -- especially those in the "eRUPPtion zone" -- that put the fear into visiting teams and make Rupp Arena one of the most intimidating places to play in the country.

The Wildcats are 445-60 at home with a .881 winning percentage -- among the nation's best – so it's easy to see why "Cawood’s Court" provides one of the most spectacular big-game atmospheres in the college sports world.

No. 2: Allen Fieldhouse- The Rock Chalk Chant is one of the great traditions of Phog Allen Fieldhouse, where the Jayhawks have posted a record of 633-106 since it opened in 1955.

When the opposing team is introduced, members of the student section traditionally take out a copy of the campus newspaper, the University Daily Kansan, and pretend to read it in attempt to demean the opposition.

When the Jayhawks are introduced, students rip up the papers, throwing them in the air to produce a confetti-like effect all across the stadium.

"Pay Heed, All Who Enter, Beware of the Phog!"

No. 1: Cameron Indoor Stadium- It's hard to believe the Blue Devils play in an arena that only seats 9,300. But the famous "Cameron Crazies," make up for capacity, turning Duke's home turf into one of the scariest college courts in the land where the volume has been recorded as high as 116 decibels.

Duke's overall record at Cameron Indoor is an astounding 737-150.

One of the unique charms to Cameron is the village that surrounds the arena for the biggest home games of the year. Aptly named for its coach, Krzyzewskiville is home to hundreds of fans in the days leading up to game day.

Face paint, body paint, and loss of voice is not only commonplace at Cameron indoor; it is expected as the “Crazies” are famous for jumping up and down for the entire game, hollering chants of "Let's Go Duke."

Feel free to check out our Live College Basketball Odds all season long as well as our free printable March Madness Brackets and of course winning NCAA basketball Picks by calling 1-888-730-2667 for a Free Basketball Pick today.

Matt Martz is a sports writer for the Bakersfield Californian, the Oregonian, and Utah Spectrum. Blessed is the gambler who expects nothing, for ye shall not be disappointed.


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