The NCAA released attendance numbers for home, neutral, and championship games yesterday. The overall average attendance at NCAA games dropped slightly, as did attendance at the NCAA Tournament, from an average of 20,550 to 19,552, a loss of about 100 spectators per game. Still, nothing earth-shattering in the attendance report.
The top ten teams in average attendance were Kentucky, Syracuse (21,592), Louisville (20,859), North Carolina (18,326), Maryland (17,863), Wisconsin (17,287), Indiana (17,106), North Carolina State (16.758), Kansas (16,436) and Creighton (15,941). Number 11 was Nebraska, leading us to believe there aren't many options for entertainment in Nebraska's big cities... or the Cornhusker State is actually really hoops-mad.
The Big East was fifth in average attendance in all games, but the Big East Tournament was fourth in average attendance - behind the Big 12, Atlantic Coast Conference, and the Big Ten.
Creighton was 20th in overall attendance (including home/ road/ neutral games); Marquette was 29th. The NCAA listed the top 30 teams in total attendance.
Within the Big East, Creighton, Marquette and Xavier topped the attendance numbers for three seasons in a row. Providence surged in attendance by nearly 13%, while Butler also saw a solid jump.
On the other hand, seven Big East men's basketball teams saw attendance declines compared to 2015, including Villanova's 16% reduction - which owes to a choice the Wildcats made to play more games on campus rather than in the Wells Fargo Center.
For the uninitiated: since Wells Fargo Arena was an NCAA host site, Villanova wanted to give the NCAA Selection Committee the option of playing them there, a choice that would have been made if they were a one-seed - but only if they played under a specific number of games in the facility. As a two-seed, they were slotted to play in Kentucky instead. I think the National Champion Wildcats are ok with the result, and could get a nice attendance bump next season.
Without such an excuse, DePaul lost a just under 12% of their paying customers, even after the coaching change to Dave Leitao.
St. John's was second-to-last in home attendance, and lost 7% of the clientele in the "expansion year", Chris Mulin's first with an almost-all-new roster.
Georgetown also lost 8% of their attendance, and Seton Hall lost 7%, despite an NCAA Tournament season. On the whole, the Big East saw 1% less attendance per game than in 2015.
In table form, the Big East's rankings and attendance figures (click on the headers to sort):
|NCAA Rk||16 BE Rk||Team||16 AvgAtt.||Change||15 NCAA Rk||15 BE Rk||15 AvgAtt.|
|71||9||St. John's (NY)||6944||-7.0%||65||8||7463|