One of the best parts of the sports fan experience is taking in the spectacular venues around the world. In North America, that rings true as well. From the Bell Centre in Montreal, to AT&T Park in San Francisco, Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City and The World's Most Famous Arena -- Madison Square Garden in New York City, sports fans certainly have their pick of the litter when it comes to great venues in North America.
That rings true in college basketball as well. From the Carrier Dome to Pauley Pavilion, Cameron Indoor to Rupp Arena, and Phog Allen Fieldhouse to the Dean Dome, the sport has its own fair share of terrific and historic venues. And the Big Ten Conference has a full plate of them, too.
So today, we're going to rank these venues for the 14 teams inside the Big Ten. So, Maryland and Rutgers will be included in the mix. With full disclosure, I have not attended any of these venues. They will be ranked in regards to home court advantage, history and the perceived atmospherics. So, without further ado, here we go!
14. Welsh-Ryan Arena - All-Time Record: 250-224 (.527): The house that holds the Northwestern Wildcats checks in here on this countdown. Welsh-Ryan Arena has stood for the last 62 years, and unfortunately has yet to see a team make the NCAA Tournament. What might be worse is that of all the venues in the Big Ten, Northwestern's home record is boasting the lowest win percentage at home. Although Welsh-Ryan certainly looks somewhat aesthetically pleasing (have you seen their court design?) the Cats simply haven't done a good job of protecting their home court.
13. Rutgers Athletic Center - All-Time Record: 369-178 (.675): Rutgers will make the leap into the Big Ten Conference this season boasting quite a home record at the 'RAC.' Unfortunately, with the state of the program over the past several years, it suffers from a lack of history as well as atmospherics. Certainly, it doesn't help that the team that's played inside it has been, at best, astonishingly mediocre, but there might be some more hope for this venue in the coming years should Rutgers, and their fanbase, get a healthy dose of excitement of new faces venturing into Piscataway.
12. Bryce Jordan Center - All-Time Record: 183-118 (.607): Penn State has the luxury of having one of college football's most beautiful venues in Beaver Stadium. But in regards to the Bryce Jordan Center, it certainly pales in comparison. The BJC has not held serve for a strong home court advantage for the Nittany Lions since its opening in 1995. Some might argue though that this 15,261-seat venue could benefit from a strong basketball program to get more fans to flood into the arena. As it stands though, that just is not the case.
11. Pinnacle Bank Arena - All-Time Record: 15-1 (.9375): The all new Pinnacle Bank Arena misses the cut for the Top 10 but the Nebraska Cornhuskers sure loved their new confines this past season. Recording just one defeat in Lincoln, the Huskers were able to push themselves into the NCAA Tournament behind a rabid group of fans whose energy was hard to come by in years past. If Pinnacle Bank continues to play a strong home court advantage going forward, this state of the art venue can easily shoot its way up the rankings next time.
10. Value City Arena - All-Time Record: 242-41 (.851): The Ohio State Buckeyes began playing in the Value City Arena in 1998. Since then, they have been nearly unbeatable in Columbus. An astounding record of 242-41 over the last 16 seasons gives them the third-best home record in the conference. What brings them down to No. 10 on this countdown? Ohio State suffers from being inside an arena more suited for a professional team with how many seats are inside the arena and the atmosphere somewhat suffers in that regard. Still though, it's hard to argue that this venue doesn't bring the Buckeyes a bevy of success. The numbers certainly are there.
9. Carver Hawkeye Arena - All-Time Record: 393-123 (.761): Our next entry into the Top 10 is located right in the heart of Iowa City. Carver Hawkeye Arena has been home sweet home for the Iowa Hawkeyes over the years, boasting a strong 76.1 win percentage over the 516 games played inside the venue. The Hawkeye program has been benefited by a few good seasons at home over the last few years, including this past season when they went 13-4.
8. Crisler Center - All-Time Record: 567-150 (.790): In the last few years, the 'Maize Rage' has helped push Crisler Center up in the rankings from being an ordinary venue to a very good one. The atmosphere inside Crisler, from a TV perspective, has looked both terrific and vibrant. And the Michigan program has benefited greatly from it. Since 2010, the Wolverines have posted a record of 59-9, totaling up for a win percentage of an extraordinary 86.2 percent. A few more good years, and
7. Comcast Center - All-Time Record: 171-40 (.810): The Maryland Terrapins are jumping into the Big Ten Conference and they are bringing along one of the toughest venues for opponents to play inside. The Comcast Center opened in 2002 and rang in with a bang, as Juan Dixon, Steve Blake and the Terps did not lose a single game in College Park on their way to a National Championship. Since that year, Maryland has lost just 40 games inside Comcast Center which not only is one of the strongest home court advantages in their new conference, but the entire country as well. Although the Terrapins may not be as strong as they once were, no team should think it will be easy pickens when they eventually travel to College Park this coming season and beyond.
6. Williams Arena - All-Time Record: 857-315 (.731): 'The Barn' checks in at number six on the countdown and over the years, it has played host to a very good atmosphere in the Twin Cities. The student section has been one of the bright spots inside the venue and overall, the Golden Gophers have enjoyed their time inside its longstanding walls. Over the course of 1,172 games, Minnesota has won 73.1 percent of games played, which all things considered for a program that has been relatively average in its history, is a very good mark. That win percentage was assisted this past year with a strong showing of 18-3 in the Twin Cities.
5. State Farm Center - All-Time Record: 565-156 (.783): It's certainly true that the Illinois Fighting Illini's home record will not be near the next few teams' records, but the venue formerly known as Assembly Hall plays host to one of the better student sections in the entire country. The Orange Krush, as they call themselves, are one of the most notable in all of college basketball and have stirred things up for better or for worse over the years. (Just ask Eric Gordon) The Illini are a rebuilding program at this point in time, but there's no denying that the State Farm Center is one of the best venues in the entire conference.
4. Mackey Arena - All-Time Record: 560-129 (.812): West Lafayette is the home of the Purdue Boilermakers, and men's basketball team has felt incredibly comfortable playing at home in Mackey Arena. The fanbase has seen a slight downturn from how strong the program was with Robbie Hummel and JaJuan Johnson there a few years ago, but they still come out and fill the stands and bring the noise each time they play at home. The evidence is there, as they boast an 81.2 win percentage since its opening all the way back in 1967. With that strong home court advantage, a long history and some good atmospherics, Mackey Arena slots itself as one of the better venues in the conference.
3. Assembly Hall - All-Time Record: 518-101 (.836): Indiana's program may not be as strong as it once was, as one of the powerhouses of the conference and in the country. But Assembly Hall is steeped with tradition and success, so much so that it's incredibly hard to ignore. Through 619 games, Indiana has posted an incredible win percentage of 83.6. And when the Hoosiers are great, their fans are as loud and as rowdy as any in the country.
2. Breslin Center - All-Time Record: 334-50 (.869): One of the toughest places to play in the country, the Breslin Center in East Lansing checks in as the second best venue in the Big Ten Conference. The 'Izzone' is one of the top student sections in the country and the location that they find themselves in helps in large part to create a raucous home court advantage for the Michigan State Spartans. And they sure have used that since it was opened back in 1989, winning 86.9 percent of games played in the venue.
1. Kohl Center - All-Time Record: 231-33 (.875): They pack their basketball venue just like they do Camp Randall and "Jump Around" is a staple of Madison, Wisconsin. And because of that, and because of the Badgers' incredible success inside their home venue, Kohl Center comes in at the top spot here on this countdown. Since its origin, Bucky and the Badgers have lost just 33 games, coming in with an astounding win percentage of 87.5 percent. With that great success, a bevy of great moments, and an incredible atmosphere, there is no denying what and where the best venue in the Big Ten is.