When the Syracuse Orange men's basketball regular season concluded, we already knew the program had fallen from the top spot in the average attendance rankings. Now, the NCAA has released the official figures, and yup, we're still second to the Kentucky Wildcats.
In 17 home games at the Carrier Dome, Syracuse drew 367,068 fans, for an average of 21,592 per game. Kentucky's average was 23,361 in 17 home games. Louisville was just short of topping rival UK for largest attendance total, as they had two additional home games. But their average fell short of both the Wildcats and SU, at 20,859 per game. The ACC had four of the top 10 (SU and Louisville, plus North Carolina and NC State).
Syracuse was tops in the nation last season with 23,854 fans per game, but second in total attendees to Kentucky. All of that, despite the program's worst year in quite some time, and self-imposed sanctions stopping them from even participating in the postseason.
This past season, while things ended with a surprising Final Four run, the Orange found themselves struggling for stretches of the year, and were firmly on the NCAA Tournament bubble heading into Selection Sunday. Games against popular opponents like St. John's, Georgetown, Duke, Virginia and Louisville were also all on the road, without returning home dates.
The Orange stand a decent chance to reclaim the title this coming season. On top of the excitement coming off the trip to the Final Four, SU will host St. John's, Georgetown, Duke, Pitt, Louisville, Miami and others in 2016-17. UConn and Wisconsin are on the road, sure. But with the aforementioned common opponents coming back to the Dome, it should more than make up the difference. (also, perhaps SU should've alternated the St. John's/Georgetown home years, and tried to align them with Duke/Louisville offsetting years?)