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Ranking the Arenas of the College Basketball Marathon on ESPN

By Paul Swaney -- November 12, 2012 10:53 PM EST

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ESPN will dedicate 18 consecutive hours of programming on its primary network, providing college basketball fans a reason to disrupt their sleep schedule.

In two years of reviewing college basketball arenas, the writers at Stadium Journey have reviewed 213 different venues. We have been to all nine of the arenas which will be hosting games as part of ESPN’s college basketball marathon. We’ve ranked the facilities based on the best overall sports experience that is offered.

  1. WisePies Arena - Home of the New Mexico Lobos

    If the decibel level is slightly less than it used to be with the smaller capacity, the difference is negligible. Most dedicated Lobo fans probably can’t tell much difference, anyway, because they’ve probably lost a little of their hearing – having attended so many New Mexico games. First-time visitors need to be told about the arena ritual that fans stand up to start each half until both teams score. With defensive-minded coach Steve Alford at the Lobo helm, fans typically are standing a little longer than they did in the past.

  2. Carnesecca Arena - Home of the St. John's Red Storm

    The atmosphere in Carnesecca Arena differs greatly from that of Madison Square Garden. In the Garden, the seats are much more spread-out than in Carnesecca, where fans are offered great views of the action, even in the highest seats. Carnesecca Arena is a sea of red between the fan's St. John's jerseys and the color of all the seats and benches.

  3. McCarthey Athletic Center - Home of the Gonzaga Bulldogs

    Fans get a strong feeling of how far the program has come within the swanky confines of the MAC: John Stockton’s iconic No. 12 is one of only two numbers retired. Opposite of that are the numerous banners commemorating the men’s and women’s teams’ domination over the WCC and success in the NCAA Tournament. There are glossy murals in the arena walkways that highlight some of the great players that played for GU over the years: Casey Calvary, Adam Morrison and Courtney Vandersloot, to name a few, give a good feeling of how much history the program has.

  4. Cintas Center - Home of the Xavier Musketeers

    From trophy cases to murals in the concourse to the banners hung in the rafters of the arena, one is sure to get the proud feeling that the school has for their history. I strongly recommend getting to the game early to beat the crowds and get a good opportunity to explore some of the intriguing exhibits provided in the concourse areas; basketball fans of any kind will gain an appreciation for the history of XU.

  5. William D. Mullins Center - Home of the UMass Minutemen

    After peaking in the mid-1990's and bottoming out in the mid-2000's, the Minutemen appear to be on the rise. One reflection of that is strong attendance at games by highly engaged fans. Given that the nearest town with any sort of pro team is Springfield, it should come as no surprise that the Minutemen are afforded a degree of fan enthusiasm reflective of their prominence in Amherst and the surrounding towns.

  6. Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center - Home of the Kent State Golden Flashes

    The Memorial Athletic & Convocation Center is small, and this is a very good thing. The size of the half-century old facility allows the school to be packed to the rafters (and they literally have rafters). The arena is loud and intense.

  7. Stan Sheriff Center - Home of the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors

    While the island of O’ahu contains many memorable images of natural scenery, there are also some man-made structures that stand out. With a height of 113 feet and aluminum dome, the Stan Sheriff Center certainly is one of them, acting as one of the most modern sporting venues in all of Hawaii.

  8. Athletics-Recreation Center - Home of the Valparaiso Crusaders

    Compared to other Indiana basketball experiences, Valparaiso's ARC and the fans within are a little disappointing. That's not to say they are disinterested, just lacking that magic that is felt at Butler or Assembly Hall in Bloomington.

  9. Alumni Gym - Home of the Rider Broncs

    Playing in tiny 1,650-seat Alumni Gymnasium is Rider University, home of the Broncs. Fans have helped create a decent home court for the basketball team as they usually pack this cozy gym and the students, known as the Broncs' Zoo, make it a tough place to play.

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