ACC basketball attendance rankings

In 2017, Syracuse, Louisville, and North Carolina ranked second, third, and fourth nationally in attendance across college basketball. Only Kentucky outdid these three ACC rivals. The trend is holding true again this season, as the Orange, Cardinals, and Tar Heels, in that order, rank first through third in the ACC in home attendance and total average attendance per game in early non-conference play. Syracuse, Louisville, and UNC benefit from having the three largest arenas in the ACC. But they also benefit from loyal fanbases.

The crowd at Syracuse’s Carrier Dome topped out at 21,720 for the season opener against Cornell, and dipped below 20,000 four straight games until the Orange defeated Maryland. Syracuse’s recent game, played in a favorable time slot against Colgate, also drew over 20,000 to the Carrier Dome.

Despite all the controversy surrounding the Louisville program, Cards fans continue to support their team. At least 17,000 fans attended each of U of L’s first seven home games. No other ACC school can make that claim.

Though attendance dropped below 17,000 for Louisville’s Dec. 12 victory over Bryant, the Cards will keep their per-game home average above 18,000 once ACC play begins. Louisville also received a bump in away attendance by playing at Purdue in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.


Big draw for big games

U of L is not the only school who received a bump from playing a prominent opponent on the road in that early-season event. Clemson and Miami join Duke and Louisville in the top four among ACC schools in away non-conference attendance. All four schools played away games in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Although UNC’s home attendance has surpassed 19,000 just once so far in Chapel Hill – the Tar Heels’ primetime victory over Michigan – the Tar Heels have hosted at least 12,000 for all five home contests. UNC also got a boost from true road games at Stanford and Davidson that were relatively well-attended compared to some of its ACC rivals’ mid-November contests.

NC State and Virginia finished fourth and fifth nationally in the ACC in attendance last season. The Wolfpack and Cavaliers have switched places in early-season non-conference games this fall.

Attendance has held steady above 12,000 per game in PNC Arena in the first home tests of Kevin Keatts at NCSU. The Wolfpack’s home attendance took a dip from playing Missouri-Kansas City in reently-renovated Reynolds Coliseum. But die-hard and longtime Wolfpack supporters will contend that the experience of watching a game in Reynolds is well worth the minor inconvenience of having NCSU’s average home attendance drop.

Predictably, Duke continues to have no problem filling up Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils sold out all six of their pre-exams home games. With Duke’s home sellout streak approaching 450 straight games, there remains no concern about whether or not Cameron Indoor’s 9,314 seats will be full from night to night.


Attendance petering out

By contrast, attendance is way down at Pittsburgh’s Petersen Events Center, as Kevin Stallings’ rebuilding project enters year two.

Long gone are the days when Pitt routinely sold out the Peterson Center every time the Panthers took the floor. The 12,508-seat arena has routinely been one-quarter or less than one-quarter full through Pitt’s early-season home slate.

After suffering an 8-point drop in attendance from Jamie Dixon’s last season in 2015-16 to Stallings’ debut season last winter, things have gone from bad to worse. The Panthers drew just over 3,500 fans to their first six home games this season – ranking 14th in the ACC, ahead of only Boston College.

Average attendance figures are always lower in November and December than in the heart of ACC regular season play in January and February. But that’s especially true in the category of average away and neutral court attendance.

Seven ACC schools – Georgia Tech, Virginia, Clemson, Florida State, Notre Dame, NC State and Wake Forest – failed to draw 5,000 fans on average to their neutral court non-conference games. This is largely attributed to playing in small arenas in preseason tournaments. But some events, like the Tip Off Classic at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, didn’t report attendance figures for Boston College’s two games. Neither did the 2K Classic in Madison Square Garden, which hosted Virginia Tech in mid-November.


ACC Non-Conference Attendance Figures (Through games played Dec. 11)

Non-Conference games only, through Dec. 11

Home Attendance:

Syracuse 18,855
Louisville 18,089
North Carolina 15,805
Virginia 13,565
N.C. State 12,416
Duke 9,314
Notre Dame 8,120
Virginia Tech 7,119
Miami 6,900
Florida State 6,521
Clemson 6,294
Wake Forest 5,863
Georgia Tech 5,254
Pittsburgh 3,597
Boston College 3,508

Away Attendance:

Duke 17,222
Clemson 17,189
Louisville 14,804
Miami 14,625
Virginia 10,227
Notre Dame 9,909
Boston College 9,861
North Carolina 9,314
Florida State 7,639
Virginia Tech 6,297
Wake Forest 5,512
Pittsburgh 3,238
Georgia Tech 2,419
NC State None Played
Syracuse None Played

Neutral Court Attendance:

North Carolina 14,852
Duke 14,370
Syracuse 12,979
Miami 7,581
Pittsburgh 7,034
Georgia Tech 4,011
Virginia 2,913
Clemson 2,842
Florida State 2,452
Notre Dame 2,400
NC State 1,690
Wake Forest 661
Boston College Not Reported
Virginia Tech Not Reported
Louisville None Played

Total Attendance (All Non-Conference Games, All Courts)

Syracuse 17,550
Louisville 17,224
North Carolina 14,221
Duke 11,871
Virginia 10,456
NC State 9,198
Miami 8,036
Virginia Tech 7,017
Notre Dame 6,941
Clemson 6,361
Boston College 6,230
Florida State 5,413
Georgia Tech 4,745
Pittsburgh 4,593
Wake Forest 4,267