While the 2019-2020 college basketball season has been over for five long months and four even longer days, the NCAA finally released last season’s data on fan attendance numbers yesterday. The results are in and the Big Ten continues its reign at the top yet again. For the 44th straight season now, the conference led the country in average home game attendance. The conference also ranked No. 1 in total overall attendance with 2,999,244 fans attending 236 games. The average game had 12,709 Big Ten fans in the stands for the league. The ACC came in at No. 2 in total attendance with 2,775,972 fans attending 255 games, but was No. 3 in average attendance at just 10,886 fans per game. The SEC was No. 3 in total attendance but No. 2 in average.
Michigan State Spartans fans packed the Breslin Center last season to the point that the average attendance of home games was 100.3-percent of capacity. By percentage of capacity that was third best in the conference, only trailing Nebraska (100.7-percent) and Purdue (104-percent). Numbers wise for MSU that capacity total equates to an average of 14,797 fans who attended games in the Brez.
Overall the Big Ten featured 10 schools in the top-30. The conference teams ranked the following:
- No. 6 Wisconsin Badgers
- No. 10 Indiana Hoosiers
- No. 11 Nebraska Cornhuskers
- No. 13 Maryland Terrapins
- No. 16 Purdue Boilermakers
- No. 17 Michigan State Spartans
- No. 18 Ohio State Buckeyes
- No. 24 Illinois Fighting Illini
- No. 27 Iowa Hawkeyes
Michigan State also ranked No. 10 nationally for total fans attending all games: home, road, and away. A total of 424,800 fans watched MSU play last season. As for the rest of the conference on that top 30 list, Indiana made No. 2, Wisconsin No. 6, Ohio State No. 7, Nebraska No. 13, Purdue No. 14, Maryland No. 16, Illinois No. 17, Iowa No. 20, Michigan No. 21, and Minnesota No. 26.
While the Big Ten ranked No. 1 for Division One conferences in both total and average fan attendance, the Mid-American Conference ranked No. 13 for total fan attendance and No. 14 for average game attendance. That is out of 32 total division one conferences.
At the Division III level, the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) ranked No. 1 in average game attendance at the DIII level, but No. 2 in total attendance. Its eight teams and their 91 total conference games put them at a disadvantage for total fan count compared to the North Coast Athletic Conference’s ten teams and 128 games when counting total turnstile spins on fan counts. Meanwhile the Great Lakes Athletic Association, no longer with my alma mater as a member for the last few seasons (BOO!), ranked No. 10 at the Division II level in total fan attendance.
You can find the full attendance and capacity averages for the Big Ten Conference last season below:
I planned to include a brief comment on this anyways, but interestingly the intern working at the NCAA’s IT department made it easier for my looking up the data with this little mistake of the wrong hyperlink:
The Spartans women’s team ranked No. 16 in the country and No. 4 in the Big Ten with their average home game attendance number 5,341. Ahead of them were (in order of highest to lowest) Iowa (No. 10), Purdue (No. 11), and Maryland (No. 15). Also making the top 50 list behind MSU was Ohio State (No. 17), Nebraska (No. 20), Indiana (No. 23), Minnesota (No. 24), Wisconsin (No. 25), and Michigan (No. 36).
As for total game attendance including home, away, and neutral court, MSU moved up from average attendance to No. 15 with a total fan attendance of 137,617 fans combined across the women’s 30 game season.
When it comes to single-game highs, the Big Ten only had three games make the top-25. However, MSU’s women were two of them, featuring 13,420 for the MSU at Iowa game for fifth highest attendance, and 19th best attendance of 11,462 in the Breslin Center when the Spartans beat Michigan.
Overall the Big Ten finished No. 3 in average conference attendance at 3,926, behind No. 1 SEC who averaged 4,183 attendees and No. 2 Big XII with an average crowd of 4,046.