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Rutgers Basketball: Attendance was good, but good is a relative term

The NCAA released numbers for the 2014-15 season and we should be very happy we're in the B1G.

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Thought we'd put something else up besides another story on Carli-palooza.

Rutgers men's basketball may not have had the best season on the court, but at least it's hanging around with the best.  And that includes attendance, a subject we touched on towards the end of the basketball season.

The NCAA released attendance figures for both men's and women's basketball and being in the Big Ten clearly helped attendance.  For Rutgers.  For the conference, on the other hand, Rutgers actually hurt the average attendance.

The Big Ten Conference led the nation in men's basketball attendance for the 39th consecutive season. The Big Ten recorded an average attendance of 12,781 fans per game, including regular season home games and all seven sessions of the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament. In addition, the Big Ten led all conferences with a home and conference tournament total of 3,195,137 fans, the second-highest total of any conference in NCAA history.  If Rutgers was pulled out of the total, the Big Ten's average attendance per game rises 479 to 13,260.

As a comparison, the local "competition" really wasn't that much better than the Knights, something that surprised me.  St. John's and Seton Hall, both playing in the revamped Big East, did do better than Rutgers in home attendance.  But considering that both play in large private arenas, the numbers seem to question that move.

How big should the RAC be?

If nothing else, the Big Ten's attendance numbers should give the RU administration some talking points about where they want to go when they start considering the size of any renovated RAC.  It would have to be a given that, over time, a) Rutgers will play better and draw better, and b) there would simply be a need for a larger arena.

Only three schools averaged less than 10,000 fans, and two of them have arenas that aren't even that large, Northwestern and Rutgers.  The third, ttfp, saw its average attendance increase by 1,787 fans per home game, the fifth-largest increase in the nation last season.  And ironically, Rutgers had the 15th best attendance increase in the nation with 1,345 more fans per game than 2013-14, its last in the AAC.

Somewhere down the line as the master plan is tweaked, edited, and finally put into play, it would seem that any arena should have at least 10,000 seats - like grown up teams have - in order to be on at least a sort-of-kinda-close level as the rest of the conference.  That is what the Big Ten is: big on-campus arenas.  As we've heard before, we're in the Big Ten, let's act like it.

RU Women's Hoops

Big Ten women's games averaged just a bit over 4,000 per game, with five schools topping 5,000.  RU came in at number 11 in the conference with an average of 2,409, ahead of Michigan, Illinois, and Northwestern.  But consider that the 2014-15 average is still 760 more fans per game than the team drew in its first and last year in the American.

For comparison, Seton Hall women drew an average of just 724, while Monmouth drew 707/pg.  At another extreme was UConn, where the national champions pulled in an average of 8,216, good for sixth best in the country.

Three Big Ten women's squads actually drew better per game averages than the Rutgers men: Purdue (6,279), Michigan State (6,119), and Nebraska (5,857).  A fourth women's team, Iowa, had more people (95,417) enter their building than the Rutgers men (92,315).

The B1G, the NCAA, and other numbers

For those happy we are no longer in the American (is there anyone who isn't?), consider the women's conference totals.  In total attendance, the B1G was second to the SEC, with the American in the middle of the pack.  But take out UConn's totals from the American, and the AAC women's attendance barely beats out the MAC.

The Big Ten men topped the nation in attendance, beating out the 15-team ACC.  With 20 fewer games, the B1G topped the ACC's average by about 1,400 per game.  Take out the Frozen Dome in upstate New York (seemingly an unfair advantage in attendance) and the ACC average drops by over 1,000 per game.  Syracuse came in as the No. 1 average attendance team, beating out No. 2 Kentucky by 282 fans per contest.  The Wildcats did draw the most people at home at 447,874.  The Fighting Caliparis were also the top draw on all courts - home, away, neutral - drawing 845,594 fans to watch them.  They beat out No. 2 Wisconsin (711,115) in that category by a whopping 134,479.