Nebraska led the NCAA in single-season attendance increase, seeing an average of more than 5,000 fans from the previous seasons. (©GettyImages)
Nebraska led the NCAA in single-season attendance increase, seeing an average of more than 5,000 fans from the previous seasons. (©GettyImages).

NCAA attendance numbers show Big Ten is basketball country

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There is a lot said about the Southeastern Conference and its college football pride.

But when it comes to basketball, there is no bigger fandom than in the Big 10.

The 120-year-old conference broke its all-time basketball attendance record, by averaging 13,534 fans per game through the 2013-14 regular season. It led the nation in attendance for the 38th-consecutive year, leaving no doubt as to where college basketball is most valued.

The previous NCAA record was an average of 13,449 fans per game, during the 1990 season.

The NCAA press office released a whole other host of attendance records Friday as part of its reflection on the year. Overall, attendance was down one percent but still represented the seventh-best attendance year in NCAA history, with 32,510,167 total attendance across all three divisions.

“It was another robust season of attendance at college basketball games,” said Dan Gavitt, NCAA Vice President for Men’s Basketball Championships, in a release.

The Atlantic Coast Conference (10,661 per game) had the second-highest attendance. It was followed by the Big 12 (10,489), the SEC (10,353) and the Big East (9,711).

The new American Athletic Conference, which broke from the Big East last year, had a very encouraging inaugural year. It drew the sixth-most fans, at 8,776 fans per game during the regular season.

More importantly, it had both the men's and women's basketball national championship winner. That's because UConn won both titles, giving the conference immediate credibility moving to the future.

Other top AAC teams include Memphis, Cincinnati and Rutgers.

Another win for the Big 10 was the fact that one of its member schools had the best single-season increase in attendance in all of the NCAA.

That honor went to Nebraska, which saw an increase of 5,067 people per game from last year. The Cornhuskers averaged 15,419 fans per game in 2013-2014 after opening its new 15,000 seat facility, Pinnacle Bank arena.

The press release doesn't explain how a team can claim to have 15,400+ fans per game in a 15,000 seat facility, but that's semantics. It very well could be that it's standing room only at a certain point.

Or perhaps there are a couple hundred fans sitting in each other's laps.

Here are some other quick facts from the NCAA's release.

* Six of the 32 NCAA Division 1 conferences set new records for total attendance. Those schools were the ACC, American, Mountain West, Pac-12, Mid-Eastern and Big South.

* Syracuse, which has led the nation in home attendance for a league-high 13 times, returned to the nation's top attendance spot last year. It averaged an attendance of 26,253. Louisville, which one the national championship the year before, was the only other school to average more than 20,000, with 22,964.

* The Kentucky Wildcats broke their own record for all-game attendance (including home, away and neutral-site games) for a single season, with 922,653 fans attending its games.

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