College Basketball: Best College GameDay Locations in CBB
If you watch ESPN regularly and are a passionate college sports fan, you’re well aware of College GameDay.
It’s the Saturday morning show where Chris Fowler and his gang of college football experts (and Lee Corso’s wardrobe of mascot heads) invade a particular campus that’s hosting a major showdown that night.
Let’s not forget, though, that there’s also a GameDay show dedicated to college basketball, as well. Since 2005, host Rece Davis and friends Digger Phelps, Jay Bilas, Bob Knight and others have visited college basketball hotbeds on Saturdays in winter and spring the same way their football counterparts have done on Saturdays in the fall.
The GameDay folks have appeared at countless college basketball arenas all around the country for years. But traditionally, a few campuses have stood out over this time as being great hoops hosts for GameDay.
Durham, North Carolina (Duke)
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It’s no surprise that Duke finds itself on this list. It’s natural, given ESPN’s (or maybe just Dick Vitale's) infatuation with the Blue Devils.
The GameDay crew has made itself at home in Krzyzewskiville over the years, and they can’t be blamed for this. Just watching on television, K-ville is a sight to behold, with countless colorful camping tents enveloping the lawn outside of Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Of course, those tents are filled with many rabid Cameron Crazies, who often camp out for days in anticipation of a major ACC clash. Given the atmosphere, it’s no wonder the GameDay folks have broadcasted the show from Duke’s campus eight times over the years.
Chapel Hill, North Carolina (North Carolina)
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Not to be outdone by their bitter arch rivals, the North Carolina Tar Heels and their fans are also known for hosting ESPN GameDay quite often.
GameDay has set up shop on the beautiful Chapel Hill campus seven times and will do so once again when the Heels clash with Duke at the Dean Dome on March 9.
However, this edition of GameDay will have a slightly different feel to it from visits past to Chapel Hill. That’s because former GameDay commentator Hubert Davis is now an assistant on Roy Williams’s Tar Heel staff.
Still, I’m sure Davis will find time to drop by the set when ESPN rolls into town at the end of the regular season.
And I’m sure Davis will get in some solid trash talking with former Blue Devil and GameDay mainstay Jay Bilas.
Louisville, Kentucky (Cardinals)
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The people of Louisville love their basketball and they love their Louisville Cardinals.
This is evident when Cardinals fans constantly bang out the 22,000-seat basketball palace that is the KFC Yum! Center, where Louisville plays its home games.
Obviously, Rece Davis and his College GameDay crew have taken notice of Louisville’s passionate fanbase. Over the years, GameDay has appeared on Louisville’s campus six times.
No word on whether or not the ESPN guys get free KFC with each appearance in the Ville.
Lexington, Kentucky (Kentucky)
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Few college basketball fanbases out there rival that of Kentucky’s in terms of size and passion. From Ashley Judd on down, it seems like Wildcat fans are everywhere.
They’re on the message boards, calling into sports radio shows and filling away arenas on a regular basis. Of course, the Bluegrass Army never fails to fill the mammoth 23,500-seat Rupp Arena—home of the Wildcats—every game.
Back in 2010, an incredible 22,000 Kentucky fans showed up for the morning GameDay broadcast from Rupp Arena.
It wouldn’t surprise anyone if that many fans show up again when GameDay drops into Lexington on February 23 for Kentucky’s game against Missouri.
Lawrence, Kansas (Kansas)
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For years, Kansas’s Allen Fieldhouse has been regarded as one of the best venues in the country to take in a college basketball game. So it’s no wonder why Rece Davis, Digger Phelps, Jay Bilas and the rest of the ESPN GameDay gang seems to visit Lawrence on an almost yearly basis.
They’ll be back in Lawrence again during the upcoming 2012-13 season. GameDay is scheduled to broadcast from the KU campus on February 16 when the Jayhawks take on the rival Texas Longhorns.
Don’t be surprised if you see the festive Phelps once again getting his groove on with the Rock Chalk Dancers during the broadcast.
Austin, Texas (Texas)
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Hook ‘em Horns! Texas University places football above all other sports.
Still, Longhorns fans know how to have a good time when ESPN GameDay rolls into Austin for basketball purposes. The sight of a sea of burnt orange that the rowdy Texas fans wear proudly burns into viewers’ memories every time they watch an edition of GameDay from the Frank Erwin Center.
GameDay has broadcast from the Erwin Center seven times total.
Gainsville, Florida (Florida)
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When you think of the country’s most notorious party schools, Florida comes to mind a lot. But ESPN GameDay wouldn’t drop by the Swamp just for a party (well, maybe Digger Phelps would).
It helps that the Gators have turned into a championship (make that championships) basketball program under Billy Donovan’s watch. So when Rece Davis and his colleagues drop by Gainesville, they’re guaranteed to see some quality hoops and have a good time in the process.
Even the uptight Bobby Knight has to let loose down in the Swamp, doesn’t he?
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Pitt)
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The rowdy and over-caffeinated Pitt Panthers basketball fans have earned the distinction of being called members of the Oakland Zoo and the ESPN GameDay crew has certainly taken notice of the Oakland Zoo.
These Pitt fans were once featured on an episode of GameDay back in January 2007 from the Peterson Events Center in the Steel City. And the Oakland Zoo is in full force early and often, from the GameDay morning broadcast right through the typically rugged Big East clash at night.
Fun fact: It’s called the Oakland Zoo because Oakland is the neighborhood in Pittsburgh where the university is located.
Bloomington, Indiana (Indiana)
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Perhaps one of the best parts of Indiana’s recent resurgence on the basketball court is the fact that GameDay will be returning to Bloomington.
With tons of attention focused around Tom Crean and his Top 5-ranked Hoosiers, GameDay will be paying a return visit to Bloomington on February 2. That’s when Indiana will be squaring off against fellow Big Ten powerhouse Michigan.
Indiana opponents know just how raucous Assembly Hall can get for big games. And if former legendary Hoosiers coach Bob Knight makes the trip to Bloomington with GameDay on February 2, the Assembly Hall roof just might come unglued.
East Lansing, Michigan (Michigan State)
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Thanks to Tom Izzo and his many great Spartan players to pass through program over the past decade plus, college basketball fans have seen Michigan State play in many high-profile games at the Breslin Center.
During Izzo’s tenure in East Lansing, the Breslin Center has played host to the GameDay crew six times. In these appearances, viewers have become used to seeing Spartan fans “white out” the Brezlin Center.
Although GameDay isn’t scheduled to broadcast from Izzo’s House during the 2012-13 season, don’t expect them to be absent from East Lansing forever.
As long as Izzo’s Spartans keep winning games and their home fans keep getting decked out in white, GameDay will be back in Spartan Country sooner than later.