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Wisconsin basketball: the Kohl Center is too quiet

Why is the atmosphere at home games so subdued?

NCAA Basketball: Michigan State at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Former B5Q columnist Dylan Deich reached out to us on Wednesday morning and said that he was inspired to write something after the Purdue game on Tuesday night. Here are his thoughts on the crowd at the Kohl Center this season.

On Tuesday night, the Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team defeated Purdue. With the win, the team moved into a tie for third place in the B1G and continued their push to improve their NCAA Tournament seeding next month. You wouldn’t have guessed that this game mattered from observing the atmosphere however, on TV the game sounded like it was being politely played at a campus library.

The game was televised on ESPN and the atmosphere inside the building was embarrassing. I had some thoughts as I watched the Badgers improve to 16-10 on the season (#THREAD):

  • Where in the hell are all the students? Our beloved Zak Showalter tweeted this photo just before halftime of Tuesday’s game:

The school and program annually promotes that student tickets sell out (sometimes in just minutes!), so what happened to everyone’s tickets? Is half the student body ill? Did winter break extend deep into February? Seriously, what the f*ck, guys?


Me: No, it’s not just like football. It’s been beaten to death on Twitter and on this website (and for good reason): The Camp Randall student section has been notoriously slow to fill and usually isn’t full until halftime.

This isn’t the same in my opinion – students aren’t just showing up late to basketball games; they’re simply not showing up. The students that do show up are simply standing and watching a basketball game. If you don’t believe me, please re-watch (or re-listen to, whatever) Tuesday’s game.

At least the football crowd makes a few vulgar chants at each other and generally makes some noise while the defense is on the field. You couldn’t even tell there was a student section in attendance on Tuesday night.

  • The students aren’t the only problem! The Purdue game felt like every fan was fed a tranquilizer at the gate. Everyone in attendance seemed to be sitting on their hands with the exception of two moments: 1.) Brevin Pritzl drew a foul on a hustle play, and 2.) Micah Potter nearly dislocated his shoulders trying to coax the crowd to their feet late in the second half as Purdue brought the ball up the court.
NCAA Basketball: Michigan State at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Not great, Bob!

  • The Kohl Center oftentimes finds itself included in “toughest places to play” lists and the team is 12-1 at home this season. It’s becoming blatantly evident that the Kohl Center is a “tough venue” to play at because the program is damn good at basketball. Anyone who thinks the team’s record at home this season is because of a wild student section and a deafening crowd is looking only at that 12-1 record.
NCAA Basketball: Wisconsin at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Heck, it’s possible that the KC would rank in the bottom half of the B1G in crowds/general rowdiness (MSU, Michigan, Maryland, Rutgers, Purdue are all clearly better night-to-night and others could certainly be argued)

  • You: No one is showing up because the team isn’t that exciting!

Me: Compared to what, 2015? Have we become that jaded? This is a team fighting for NCAA tournament seeding and a top-4 spot in a wildly-good Big Ten. They’ll be playing meaningful basketball into March.

On Tuesday night specifically, Aleem Ford had a career night and hit some huge shots. Flip on any (literally any) other college basketball game this week and you’ll find excitement, energy, noise and passion around a home team under those circumstances.

  • You: It’s Gard. #FIREGARD!

Me: Stop.

On Sunday, the Badgers host Rutgers. I’m betting that more students show up. I’m betting the crowd is better. I’m also betting that the Kohl Center continues to lack a real home court advantage in the Badgers favor. I’m not saying that my opinion matters or that a couple hundred words on a blog will make any difference. I’m just saying that I hope I’m proven wrong. #GoBadgers.