The Big Ten brings with it a lot of cache....and a lot of cash. But we left behind, at least in terms of basketball, some great teams. At least in the Big East. No more Syracuse or Georgetown. No more St. John's or Villanova. No more Louisville. But no more Depaul or Providence, either. Whew!
Do the fans care? Did they? Our hoops guy Dave White suggested a look at the start of each of the last three seasons to see if being in a different conference made a difference in attendance. So with our fourth home game in the books, lets take a look at what has happened.
Can four games tell a story?
We're looking at this year in the Big Ten, 2013-14 in the American, and 2012-13 in the Big East. In simple terms, going to the Big Ten made a difference. Look at the average for the first four home games over this and the last two seasons.
From our last year in the Big East to this season, there is around a 1300 fan difference per game. That's significant. But the AAC? How could we draw that many fans in a conference that we didn't really want to be in and wouldn't be in much longer? Answer: two games. Look at who we played among the first four last season compared to the season in the Big East. The games against Louisville and UConn are two of the three largest crowds in this data base, exceeding games this year in the B1G...though not by much. Without them, the AAC average plummets. For the old Big East, even St. John's didn't draw, meaning their fans didn't want to bother with the game either. And if Northwestern, Penn State, and Wisconsin had been played when students were on campus, the numbers probably would have been even better this year.
For the record, the Louisville game was played on Jan. 4, over break, and there were still over 7,000 in attendance.
And for the overall draw, being in the Big Ten - combined with a team that isn't as bad as a lot of people projected - has brought attendance at the RAC up this year. Ironically and interestingly, in all three seasons, the team was 2-2 over those first four conference games.