It’s never easy to go on the road in college basketball. This is a top 25 breakdown of some of the toughest and most intimidating venues in college basketball.
Venue: Stephen C. O’Connell Center
School Name: Florida
Location: Gainesville, Florida
From double digits win streaks inside the O’Connell Center to undefeated seasons at home, the Florida Gators have done more than enough to prove why they belong in this countdown.
Gator fans provide one of the best atmospheres in college basketball. And, over the past few seasons, it is clear why they are always so excited in Gainesville.
Dubbed as the “Scariest Place to Play in the Country” by ESPN The Magazine in recent years, the layout of orange and blue that covers the 12,000 seat arena speaks for itself. Simply known as the Rowdy Reptiles, Florida’s student section fits its name to perfection. They’ve being featured on ESPN’s College Game Day in the past, and there’s no doubt Gator fans will never disappoint.
With Florida fans always performing well in their seats, as has the team performed well on the court. After winning back-to-back National Championships only a few years ago, one of which was fueled by an undefeated, 18-0 mark, at the O’Connell Center, the passion for winning is something that is expected at the University of Florida.
The Gators can boast of four 15+ win streaks at home under head coach Billy Donovan. One of which is a school-record 24 game home win streak which was aided by the undefeated home record in 2006-2007.
It is never a good idea to overlook a Billy Donovan coached team, and at the same time the atmosphere that is provided by Gator fans can prove to be an absolute nightmare for visiting teams.
Heading into this season, Florida lost their go-to-guy Nick Calathes, but welcome back Alex Tyus and Erving Walker. With one of the top freshmen in the nation in Kenny Boynton and Georgetown transfer, Vernon Macklin eligible to play, the excitement is building heading into another season.
Since winning back-to-back National Championships in 2006 and 2007, the Gators have failed to make the NCAA Tournament the last two seasons, but be that as it may, that only seems to only fuel the Florida Gators and their fans.
With a non-conference visit from Florida State and annual SEC match-ups with rivals Kentucky and Tennessee, among others, the Stephen C. O’Connell Center will be buzzing again.
With a history of winning under Billy Donovan and a rowdy group of students and fans alike, the combination of the two has provided the University of Florida with one of the toughest and most intimidating venues in college basketball today.