Yesterday, we examined the best fan bases in the Big Ten; today, our series on the Best Fan Bases in college basketball continues with a look at the Pacific Athletic Conference. Arizona is number one, followed by UCLA, Washington, and Stanford. USC and Washington State are at the bottom of the list. Colorado and Utah are not included due their recent addition to the conference. (Note: For additional information on our methodology, click here)
Arizona placed first in the conference, and also second in our overall rankings. One may wonder how Arizona finished ahead of the one of the most storied programs in college basketball history, UCLA. There are several factors drive this result; one key factor is attendance. Over the ten years of our study, both UCLA and Arizona averaged approximately 22 wins. However, the Wildcats almost always filled up the McKale Center, while the Bruins had trouble packing Pauley Pavilion. Even in the 2005-2006 season, when UCLA had over 30 wins and went to the NCAA Championship game, they only averaged approximately 70% of capacity attendance. In contrast, Arizona had only 16 wins in the 2009-2010 season, but still averaged around 95% of capacity attendance. Thus, Arizona fans showed up even when the team was underperforming.
It is fair to point out that UCLA plays in a large market, where they have to compete with entertainment alternatives like the Lakers, the Dodgers, the Angels, USC, the beaches, and yes, now even the Clippers; whereas Arizona is the only game in town in Tucson. However, being the only game in town does not ensure fan loyalty. A great example of this point is Washington State, which finished last in the conference. Despite back-to-back 26 win seasons in 2006-2007 & 2007-2008, the Cougars only averaged approximately 60% and 70% of capacity attendance, respectively.
Our next post will take a look at the ACC…