NCAA Attendance

  • Most of us live near DI college basketball programs. Most of us could very easily go and watch DI college basketball games, often times see major conference teams rather easily.

    Unless you’re going to see a blueblood at home, it’s actually easy to pick up a cheap or even free ticket whenever you want.

    Years of living in Baton Rouge I’d go to the PMAC just because it was pretty good basketball. They looked like major college players, sometimes even were. For a few big games I’d need to plan ahead, like the great Buddy Hield OU v. Ben Simmons and LSU match two years ago. Awesome game that felt big time.

    But most of the time I’d show up 15 minutes before hand and find someone on the street who’d give it to me for 5 or 10 bucks. Then I’d wait until the first TV timeout and move down to sometimes even courtside seats because people don’t show up.

    If I wanted, even closer was Southern University with a large 10,000 plus arena with usually fewer than 1000 fans in attendance.

    And here’s my gripe. There are entire conferences that average less than 2000 in attendance, conferences that are considered D1 that get their champion invited to the dance each year. The Northeast conference averaged 1,100 per game and four others less than 1500 all putting teams in the dance.

    For years I’ve thought there are way too many DI teams. If your fans don’t care enough to show up and fill the gym at least half way, well, then I don’t care to see your teams name on a line on the bracket.

    I’d favor making an attendance requirement. I can’t even say what the number is, but goodness it’s got to be more than what the local HS averages. So let’s say it’s anything below 4000, 3000? Don’t know exactly. But it will benefit our basketball.

    If the OAD charade ends, which there’s rumbling for some rules changes in this regard, then it’s going to change the hoops landscape. Players want to play D1. If you change how many teams there are in D1 then there’s going to be more competition for D1 players. It will improve the quality of play. I’m all for it.

    Most college basketball these days sucks. The quality players are spread out too much and there are too many college aged players languishing on NBA benches, albeit, very wealthy ones.

    This document has lots of attendance data. It’s pretty interesting to people like me who are fascinated by weird sports data.

  • @wissox

    I agree. I have said for a long time that the NCAA Tournament is now the equivalent of the participation trophy where a poor team from bottom conference can get hot for 3 games in their tournament and gets an automatic bid. The NCAA Tournament does not get the top68 teams, maybe 50% to 60% are legit but the rest are teams that have no business being there.

    If you look at the average attendance by conference, once you get past the top 10 the attendance drops quite a bit. I would be in favor of making the top 10 conferences be Division I and the rest a lower division with their own tournament.

    I also think that 68 teams is way too many when we know a team in the bottom half has for all practical purposes zero chance of wining. I would be in favor of a 32 team tournament with double elimination or 2 of 3 to advance. Under this scenario, KU probably does not win in '88 but has at least 2 or 3 more titles in the years where it had great teams that had one bad game when it counted. There is no way KU does not get past Buckner, Bradley, NIU, VCU and others under a 2 of 3 format.

  • @JayHawkFanToo I like it. NCAA baseball of course has the double elimination which is kind of confusing, but they now have a 2 of 3 ‘sweet 16’ which they call super regional. Of course, it’s kind of sour grapish because I whine saying oh, I know we’re better than them, I wish we could have a series with them.

  • NO NO NO!

    The beauty of basketball is that it requires only a dozen or less (Big Attendance KU having fewer, of course) athletes to participate and possibly even beat anyone! School size has nothing to do with it! Big schools should do this only if they are afraid.

    (I agree with double elim, tho!)

  • I see some logic on both sides of this debate.

    What about a 32team March Madness, instead of 64+4? Or would that be a OAD/big-program fest? Far less cinderella runs. Far less no-namers, although that has been part of what defines ‘Madness’…

  • @Ralster Where ya been?

  • @wissox Good info, it kinda reminds me of the movie Semi Pro with Woody Harrelson and Will Ferrell where they are trying to get in the NBA when it merged with the ABA. I too think that a sub division should be made kinda like in football. FCS is still considered D1 but is better for the smaller schools. There are I believe 351 D1 basketball programs, the bottom 150 should be in it own sub division.

  • @kjayhawks I agree, it would strengthen the game at the Division 1 level.

  • A separate subdivision would be interesting, with a couple of caveats. If you break into two divisions, let’s call them A and B for simplicities sake, schools in division A cannot schedule more than 3 non-conference games against teams in division B. That forces power conference teams to play mid majors, which avoids a situation where the 7th place finisher in a Power 5 conference argues for an NCAA bid based on their “strength of schedule” because they lost to Powerhouse A twice, while a mid major that finished 2nd in their conference only played 1 Power 5 team (because the Power 5 schools wouldn’t schedule them).

    There’s no point in shrinking D1 if Power 5 teams won’t play mid majors. Look at KU’s schedule this year. KU played 6 Power 5 teams. They played one mid major (Toledo), and five low majors from typical one bid leagues. Power 5 schools traditionally avoid playing teams from the American, A-10, Mountain West, Missouri Valley, Sun Belt, Conference USA and Mid American, as those leagues are the typical “mid majors” with serious bubble cases come Selection Sunday.

    Look around on Power 5 schedules and you will see the same. One or two games with true mid majors, plus lots of games against low majors.

    The truth is, though, that the Power 5 wouldn’t want to split D1 into two divisions. Think about how tough it would be if you were at a school like Rutgers or Oregon State, in a Power 5 League, but not able to fatten up the schedule with a few low major cupcakes to get 5 or 6 easy wins. Now you’re facing off with other Power 5 teams, or playing those dangerous mid majors, and suddenly you’re 4-8 heading into conference play. That gets coaches and AD’s fired after you go 9-19 or worse.

    The last place team in every major conference lost at least 14 conference games last year. If you are heading into conference play without six or seven guaranteed victories against low majors, you’re staring at a 20+ loss season. You might be able to survive one of those. Probably not two. Lower level Power 5 programs wouldn’t want that, especially since a 64 team field for 200 schools would mean missing the tournament three straight years probably costs the coach their job, and maybe the AD, too.

  • @justanotherfan

    It is not that simple. Mid majors do not want to play major programs, they also want to improve their records by feasting on lower ranked teams. The bottom one hundred teams are what boxing calls a tomato can or an opponent hired to take a beating.

    For the smaller programs, the payout they derive from being a traveling punching bag pays for their entire athletic budgets. A mid major has the option of paying a smaller school and have a nice crowd at home and actually make money or play a major school and get paid nothing on the road and have the same crowd at home on the return game. A big program like KU has the option of paying a small program $50K to play at AFH while selling out the place and making well over $500K with no return engagement required or play a mid major and paying nothing at home but having to play a return game away and deriving no money. Major programs schedule other major or mid major programs as part of inter conference contests or enough to give their programs strength of schedule that will help with eventual seeding. KU supposedly has one of the top schedulers in the business with and eye for programs that will have a bigger upside several years into the future and thus ensuring the SOS will be maximized.

    College basketball is a business and money drives the train. I read of one small program that played just about every single pre-Conference game on the road and earned enough to fund the entire athletic budget for the year.

    I understand the lure of the NCAA is huge for the smaller conferences that realistically have no change of winning the tournament or in many case even winning a game; we know the top 68 teams do not make it to the dance since the auto qualifiers, that many times are not even top 100, take a fair number of slots and fall dangerously close to the participation trophy analogy that seems to be the new norm. I would favor a tournament with the true top 32 teams, single elimination to get to the sweet 16 and double elimination the rest of the way.

  • @JayHawkFanToo

    For a school like Kansas, any change makes no difference, because they are at the top. Changes to the middle or bottom have little, if any, affect on KU.

    This has more affect on the Texas Tech’s, TCU’s and KSU’s of the world. Those schools are in a position where yes, they can certainly pay the smaller schools to come in and play them, but the attraction of playing at KU, versus the payday they can get by playing at KU or another big name program is significant. Plus the TV exposure, etc. to have a chance to be on the radar for recruits.

    If the NCAA were to re-structure D1, Power 5 schools would have to play the mid majors. That’s a big reason why its doubtful that D1 hoops makes any changes.

    As you correctly point out, its a business, and the NCAA D1 tournament basically pays for the budgets for the NCAA, and mens basketball pays for the athletic budgets for roughly half to two thirds of D1 programs (basically all programs except those that have FBS football and those that operate at a loss).

    Even in the single bid leagues, getting the revenue from having a team in the tournament is worth it, and if that 13 or 14 seed happens to swing an upset every few years, even better because that’s a huge boon for the league from a revenue standpoint.

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