May 10, 2012, 5:30 PM EDT
The more things change in college basketball, the more they stay the same.
The NCAA released its attendance numbers for 2011-12, and the leaders in both the conference and individual school rankings should come as no surprise to anyone who follows the sport.
For the 36th straight season the Big Ten leads the way in conference attendance, as 2,856,785 fans filled league arenas. That number is good for an average of 12,868 fans per game.
Rounding out the top five are the SEC (11,513 fans per game), Big 12 (11,057), Big East (10,881) and ACC (9,876).
The Pac-12 finished seventh in average attendance (7,143), but the number to watch as they head into 2012-13 may actually be their average for conference tournament games.
In the league’s final season of playing the conference tournament in Los Angeles an average of just 8,938 fans took in the action at Staples Center.
That’s nearly 4,000 fewer fans than what the Mountain West averaged in Las Vegas (12,625).
With both tournaments (as well as the WAC) being played in Las Vegas in 2013 it will be interesting to see how the numbers change (if at all).
The school that led the country in attendance for the seventh straight season (and 16 of the last 17) is none other than Kentucky, who welcomed an averaged of 23,721 fans per game into Rupp Arena.
Following the Wildcats is Syracuse, who averaged 23,618 fans per game. The Orange, who had 19 home dates to Kentucky’s 18, led the nation in total fans with 448,736 filling the Carrier Dome.
Louisville, who finished second nationally in total fans (430,052), ranked third with an average attendance of 21,503 per game.
The Big Ten placed three teams in the Top 10: Wisconsin (17,181; 5th), Ohio State (16,511; 8th) and Indiana (16,462; 9th).
The highest-ranking non-BCS school was Creighton, who ranked sixth with an average of 16,665 fans per game.
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