The love and the passion fans exhibit towards their schools' basketball teams are what make college sports so great. Yes, sometimes they can become meddlesome and offer players illegal gifts in order to get closer to the team, but that enthusiasm allows college basketball to be as exciting as it is.
Which school has the most knowledgeable fan base in the nation? We will discuss that in the following slides.
Western Kentucky University had a very passionate fan base in the 1960s and earlier because they were so successful. If this list was compiled then, WKU would easily be in the top ten.
Nowadays, Diddle Arena is not nearly as packed as it once was. But the knowledge of how basketball is played and won is still there.
In Kentucky, there is nothing to do in the winter but play and watch basketball. There are no professional sports teams to follow, only your university’s basketball teams.
Granted, WKU does not have as big a following as the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky, but the western part of the state has enough WKU fans.
These people grow up watching basketball and learning everything there is to know about it. Parents easily drive two hours on a school night to take their kids to Diddle Arena to watch the Hilltoppers.
The quantity of WKU fans may not be as high as it once was, but the quality is still there.
In recent years, Gonzaga has come from being a school with a weird name to being an NCAA Championship contender.
Much like the state of Kentucky, Spokane, Washington, does not have a lot of activities to do in the winter. While it is still difficult to get high-profile teams to play at Gonzaga, the fans are still very knowledgeable of what goes on around the country and in basketball.
The Terrapin fan base has plenty of experienced fans.
Playing in one of the historically toughest conferences in the nation, Maryland has had to deal with the likes of Duke and North Carolina year in and year out.
Gary Williams' teams haven’t been great in the past few years, but maybe Mark Turgeon can get Maryland back to the powerhouse it once was.
Lute Olson made Arizona basketball what it is today. But he never could have achieved his success without the support of the Wildcat faithful.
Once Olson retired, Arizona went looking for the guy who would bring them back to prominence in the college basketball world. Sean Miller was that guy.
Although Miller did not immediately start winning in Tucson, he took the Wildcats to the Elite Eight this past March.
Ohio State is more of a football school than a basketball school. That does not necessarily mean the Buckeye fans do not know about basketball.
Again, Columbus' northern location (you will see a trend in northern schools being on this list) does not allow too many winter activities other than watching basketball.
These fans have been passionate throughout many years of success in college basketball.
Notre Dame follows the same line as Ohio State, in that they are a football school up north with a good basketball tradition.
In the early part of last century, Kentucky versus Notre Dame was a regular fixture on the schedule.
Some even may argue that Notre Dame’s basketball program has been more successful than its football program lately.
Philadelphia is known for its passionate and tremendous fan bases. That also includes its college basketball fans.
Playing in the toughest basketball conference the past few years has allowed Villanova to host several major college basketball games.
Villanova fans have stepped up to show how much they care and know about college basketball.
Like Villanova, this Pennsylvania school loves its basketball as well as football.
With several successful professional teams, you would not think any Pennsylvanian would have time to care about college basketball. If you watch one Pittsburgh game, you will know instantly that this is not the case.
Located in the middle part of New York state, Syracuse is also trapped indoors during winter.
The basketball program is unique to Syracuse because it plays inside the school's domed football stadium. This also allows Syracuse to have one of the largest attendances in the nation every year.
With national championships in 1979 and 2000, the Spartan fans know what quality basketball looks like.
Being up north has led the Michigan State fans to watch tons of basketball, and because of the success of their program, they have watched quality basketball.
In the mid-80s, Georgetown was a hotbed for the best centers in the nation.
Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning are just two examples.
The Hoyas fan base over the past few decades has been witness to how great basketball is supposed to be played.
The state of Indiana is a basketball state. Three universities in the state make it onto this list.
That also has to say something about the fan bases in this state. The locals that attend these colleges grow up watching basketball.
The only reason the state of Kentucky will have higher-ranked fan bases is because Indiana fans have other professional sports to take away their time from paying attention to the game of basketball. That’s not a knock on the Hoosiers, it’s a knock on the state of Kentucky.
The city of New York is one of the greatest basketball cities in the nation. New Yorkers take pride in their basketball teams, which play in a historic stadium.
The past decade, New Yorkers have had terrible basketball teams, but the fans have still shown up night in and night out to cheer on their teams.
The University of Connecticut is very unique to college basketball. Both the women’s and the men’s programs are among the nation's best.
Both have some of the best coaches in the history of basketball, and they both hate each other.
Jim Calhoun and Geno Auriemma are two huge fishes in a little pond. Because of this, Jim Calhoun and Geno Auriemma both constantly battle for recognition of their program.
This attention is so great that basketball is all anybody talks about, because the two coaches force them to.
When John Wooden was the coach at UCLA, playing the season was almost unnecessary because you knew who was going to win the title.
Even though that was in the 1960s, the UCLA fans have not accepted anything less than a championship in the seasons since.
The last championship they won was in 1995. Ben Howland took UCLA back to the championship game this last decade, losing to the Florida Gators in 2006.
In the state of Kentucky, as we have talked about before, fans have nothing to do but watch and cheer on their basketball teams.
The lack of professional teams in any sport allows everyone to focus all of their attention on their chosen college basketball teams.
The Louisville Cardinals won two national championships in the '80s, tying Indiana for the most in that decade.
With five national championships and the distinction as the last team to go undefeated in a season, Indiana is one of the best college basketball programs in the nation.
For years, the head coach of the Hoosiers was arguably the best basketball coach ever, Bob Knight.
After Kelvin Sampson violated many NCAA rules at Indiana, the punishment has been so severe that Indiana has yet to return to national prominence.
Even still, the Indiana faithful have shown up to support their team through thick and thin, which makes them one of the best fan bases in the nation.
The inventor of basketball started the basketball team at Kansas. His successor was Phog Allen.
Now every home game at Allen Fieldhouse is sold out and loud.
The book Scorecasting, by Tobias J. Moskowitz and L. Jon Wertheim, talks about how home-field advantage is caused by the referees being influenced by the fans.
Allen Fieldhouse is small and loud, which gives the Jayhawks a competitive advantage over any team they play at home.
North Carolina has been a top program in the past and is currently near the top as well. Tar Heel fans had to suffer through three seasons of Matt Doherty as coach, but still stuck with the program.
Roy Williams has since come back to Chapel Hill, putting North Carolina back on top of the college basketball landscape by winning two National Championships since 2003.
The Duke Blue Devils have the smartest fan base on this list, but not quite the most knowledgeable.
The Cameron Crazies are legendary for being courtside and constantly yelling at the opposing team and referees.
Cameron can only hold around 10,000 fans, which means the value of getting into a game is at a premium.
If you ever get a chance to go Cameron Indoor Stadium, the first thing you’ll notice is how small it is. Walking through the tunnel to get to your seat barely leaves enough room for you, much less hundreds of other people walking in and out.
If you are claustrophobic, there is zero chance of you enjoying a game at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
The Big Blue Nation prides itself on having the best college basketball program in the country. Winning seven national championships over six decades, the Kentucky Wildcats are almost constantly successful in college basketball.
With more wins than any other program, Kentucky fans have become accustomed to winning. Like I have said before, there is nothing that takes precedent over the Wildcat basketball program in the state of Kentucky.
In Louisville, whose school has the sixth-ranked fan base on this list, the Courier-Journal polls subscribers to see which university they prefer so that the newspaper can headline the more popular team. Every year, the Kentucky Wildcats are the favorite.
In John Calipari’s first year as head coach, he noticed during one of the early games, when Kentucky schedules weak opponents, that Rupp Arena was completely full. All 24,000 seats were filled to see the Wildcats play a team nobody outside of Kentucky had ever heard of.
The Kentucky fans knew who they were because they did their own scouting of the team prior to the game. On Calipari’s radio show, he talks about how Kentucky fans watch tape, similar to the way the coaching staff watches tape.
No other fan base does that.