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: Petersen Events Center
School Name: Pittsburgh
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
It was almost like the turning of a new leaf. The Petersen Events Center opened up and a new-found success followed.
Since its opening in 2002, the Petersen Events Center has been home to the Pittsburgh Panthers basketball program. In each of the eight seasons that the Panthers have called the Events Center home, they have gone on to make the NCAA Tournament.
Known as “The Pete,” the venue has seen some of the Big East’s best teams in recent years and with the success that the Panthers have had, it has seen its fair share of wins as well.
Known for their student section, the University of Pittsburgh and the Petersen Events Center gives Pitt students an opportunity to really get after the visiting opponents. They are known as the Oakland Zoo—and "zoo" is the perfect word to describe the group of about 1,500 students.
The Zoo provides a courtside atmosphere designed to give the Panthers a true home-court feeling. With each member wearing a gold t-shirt that reads “Oakland Zoo,” the unity behind the student sections shows the passion they have for the Panthers program.
It was only a few season ago, in 2006, that Sports Illustrated asked players in the Big East to name what they thought was the toughest place to play in the conference. “The Pete,” with credit given to the Zoo and the rest of the fans, was named the toughest that year.
Pittsburgh rode a highly successful campaign in 2008-2009 all the way to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. However, the Panthers never played all that well in the tournament, making a run to the Elite Eight before losing to Villanova. The expectations may not be as high this year, but fans in Pittsburgh will still be ready to go.
The Panthers welcome back Ashton Gibbs, among others, and add one of the top freshmen in the country in Dante Taylor. Although most of their key non-conference matchups are away from home, visits from Louisville, Georgetown and Villanova, just to name a few, will bring out excitement at the Petersen Events Center.
Coach Jamie Dixon has done a fine job with the Panthers in his time at Pittsburgh and the desire to continue to compete in the Big East will keep Pittsburgh going. Aided by the support of their fans and students, as well as honorary Zoo member Mark Cuban, Pittsburgh has plenty of support as they look to move forward into another season.
*This article replaces the previous No.15 in the Arena Pulse for the B/R College Basketball Season Preview.