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Marquette Basketball: More Popular Than Most Teams

Based on attendance for this past season, both the men’s and women’s teams are the 2nd most popular teams in the Big East.

NCAA Basketball: Villanova at Marquette Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The NCAA recently released attendance data for the 2016-17 men’s and women’s basketball seasons, and as it turns out, Marquette basketball is pretty popular.

The men’s attendance ranked 19th in the country with an average of 13,715 people coming through the turnstiles at the BMO Harris Bradley Center for each of MU’s 17 home games last season. Marquette ranks second in the country amongst schools without football programs, trailing only fellow Big East squad Creighton, who ranked #5 at 17,412. BYU is the only other non-Power 5 football conference team in the top 20, with the Cougars drawing 14,476 on average.

It’s the 16th consecutive season where the Golden Eagles have ranked in the top 25 in the country in average attendance. Marquette has posted a winning percentage of 77.5% in the 29 year history of the Bradley Center, and that jumps up to 81.6% over the 16 seasons of top 25 attendance.

Marquette also showed a growth in attendance for the first time under head coach Steve Wojciechowski. Wojo’s first season had a notable drop in average attendance from the final season under Buzz Williams, and the second season with the former Duke assistant in charge saw a small drop as well even though the Golden Eagles won 20 games with Henry Ellenson destroying freshman records left, right, and center.

The Big East was one of five conferences to average at least 10,000 fans in attendance per game. The league averaged 10,014 people per game in 170 contests, and the only leagues to perform better were the Big Ten (#1 with 12,235), ACC, SEC, and Big 12.

Here’s the breakdown for each individual school in the Big East, sorted by average. For as much static that we give to DePaul for their attendance issues, the Blue Demons were still ranked in the top 100 in average attendance..... although they were exactly at #100.

2016-17 Men’s Basketball Attendance

Team Avg. Attendance National Rank
Team Avg. Attendance National Rank
Creighton 17,412 #5
Marquette 13,715 #19
Xavier 10,282 #38
Villanova 9,772 #44
Providence 8,492 #53
Georgetown 8,479 #54
St. John's 8,448 #55
Butler 8,357 #57
Seton Hall 7,953 #62
DePaul 4,922 #100

Over on the women’s side of the aisle, Marquette basketball holds the same conference rank when it comes to average attendance, but the national rank is much lower. Carolyn Kieger’s team averaged 1,743 fans in attendance for each of their 19 home games this past season, which is second in the Big East to only DePaul at 2,320. However, that’s nowhere near the top 25 nationally, or even the top 50. The NCAA’s official stats only list women’s teams out to the top 50 which ends at UCF with 2,399 per game. Thanks to a little Command+F action, I was able to determine that Marquette’s average ranked #83 in the country. The more optimistic minded observer would like to think that the average McGuire Center attendance and the national rank will increase by dramatic leaps and bounds in 2017-18 as the Golden Eagles build off of a Big East tournament title and NCAA tournament appearance last season.

As a conference, Big East women’s basketball is in a much worse place than the men’s league. The conference ranks only 11th in the country with 1,224 fans per game, nestled in between Conference USA (1,295) and the West Coast Conference (1,222). As you can see, the Big East is not that far from being able to say that they’re top 10 in attendance, and it’s not really that distant from the MAC at #8 with 1,409 fans per game either. The men’s basketball average is somewhat artificially limited by Villanova playing so many games at The Pavilion, as well as Seton Hall tarping off the upper deck of the Prudential Center and St. John’s playing a number of games at Carnesecca Arena. Those limits don’t apply to the women’s attendance, as every team plays in a building that could easily hold more people than they averaged this past season.

Here’s the Big East women’s basketball average attendances, sorted by average.

2016-17 Women’s Basketball Attendance

Team Average Attendance
Team Average Attendance
DePaul 2,320
Marquette 1,743
Xavier 1,423
St. John's 1,403
Creighton 1,079
Seton Hall 916
Villanova 889
Georgetown 856
Butler 581
Providence 569

You can check out all the national men’s basketball attendance data right here, and the women’s basketball information can all be found here.