The Arena Pulse: No.11-Assembly Hall (Illinois)

Paul SeaverCorrespondent IOctober 8, 2009

CHAMPAIGN, IL - FEBRUARY 12:  Fans of the Illinois Fighting Illini beat on the floor as a member of the Wisconsin Badgers shoots a free-throw on February 12, 2005 at the Assembly Hall at the University of Illinois in Champaign, Illinois. Illinois defeated Wisconsin 70-59.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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: Assembly Hall
School Name: University of Illinois
Location: Champaign, Ill.
Capacity: 16,618
It has become accustomed for Illini fans to wear orange at all home games. As a result of that, Assembly Hall is one of the better sights to see around college basketball.
Since its opening in 1963, Assembly Hall has been praised for its construction and design. At one time, it was one of only two known edge-supported dome constructs. Nowadays, it is known for the excitement it adds to a venue that is one of the most intimidating places to play.
At the annual “Paint the Hall Orange” game, everyone in attendance (Illinois fans that is) will wear orange, wiping out the crowd and causing one of the more impressive atmospheres in college basketball.
The University of Illinois is known for having some of the loudest fans in the country. Better known as the "Orange Krush," students occupy many of the floor seats around the court, giving opposing teams a very tough time.

On nights of bigger games for the Fighting Illini, the student section will even spread into the normal seats, expanding the Orange Krush and making Assembly Hall even louder.
After being unable to make it past the first round in the NCAA Tournament in 2007 and 2009 as well as being unable to qualify for the tourney in 2008, the Fighting Illini have a good group of returning players, and this year, expectations to get further into the NCAA Tournament are on their mind.
With their biggest non-conference game being at home against Vanderbilt in early December, the Illinois fans will look to Big 10 play and games against potential top 10 teams—Michigan State and Purdue, among others—to try to prove why Assembly Hall is no easy place to play.
It was only a few seasons back when the Fighting Illini played in the national championship game, and although many don’t believe Illinois has the talent to get that far this year, don’t tell Illini fans that.

Expectations are high and Assembly Hall will be in full force when called upon. With a combination of one of the tougher places to play in the country and a team that could find itself in the top 25 to begin the season, the table is set for another exciting year in Champaign.