Clearly, football is king in the SEC and boasts some of the most magnificent stadiums in America. Basketball may play second fiddle at most SEC schools, but the conference is still home to some of the best (and largest) basketball venues in the nation.
1. Rupp Arena (Kentucky)
Fitting that the largest basketball-only arena in the U.S. be #1 on our list. Rupp opened in 1976 and has regularly seen crowds of over 24,000 during its 30 plus year history. It is also fitting, perhaps, that the winningest program in college basketball history plays its’ games here on these hallowed grounds.
2. Bud Walton Arena (Arkansas)
Opening in 1993, Bud Walton Arena quickly became a crown jewel for college basketball as the first team to ever play in this building won a National Championship. Bud Walton is also the fifth largest on-campus basketball facility in the nation and is an intimidating a venue there is when the Razorbacks are good.
3. Thompson-Boling Arena (Tennessee)
With a seating capacity at nearly 22,000, Thompson-Boling Arena stands out a terrific basketball venue. Both the Tennessee men’s team, as well as the women, see large crowds and great atmospheres for games. Legendary Lady Vol coach Pat Summit has recently had the court named after her.
4. Colonial Life Arena (South Carolina)
With room for 18,000 spectators, Colonial Life Arena is a beautiful facility and is the largest indoor arena in the state of South Carolina and is just 13 years old…Now if only the USC basketball program would start winning basketball games.
5. Mizzou Arena (Missouri)
With Missouri’s addition to the SEC, the conference acquired a program with solid basketball tradition (2015 not withstanding) and one of America’s great basketball venues. Mizzou Arena opened in 2004 and with a seating capacity at just over 15,000, feels a lot like an NBA atmosphere at times.
6. Auburn Arena (Auburn)
It’s perfectly sized to house Auburn hoops at a shade under 10,000 capacity, and still feels brand new despite being built in 2010. First year head coach Bruce Pearl looks like a coach that will be able to bring in enough talent to compete in the SEC and properly fill the building for big conference games.
7. O’Connell Center (Florida)
The “rowdy reptiles” help make the 11,000 seat O’Connell Center one of the tougher places to play in college basketball. The Florida basketball program has been able to sustain a great deal of success under coach Billy Donovan and the Gator fans know how to pack the building, especially for prime-time games.
8. Memorial Gymnasium (Vanderbilt)
Memorial Gym was built in the early 1950’s as a memorial to those killed in World War II. It is one of the most unique venues in college basketball due to the raised floor and the fact that the arena’s configuration resembles that of a theater. The venue now seats over 14,000 and has become one of the more intimidating venues to travel to in the Southeastern Conference.
9. Reed Arena (Texas A&M)
Hard to believe this venue is 17 years old as it still holds up as one of the “nicer” arenas in the SEC. Reed Arena is known to get pretty rowdy at times and routinely plays host to big concerts and other entertainment vehicles like World Wrestling Entertainment.
10. Pete Maravich Assembly Center (LSU)
Opening in 1972, this 13,000 seat venue has played host to LSU hoops for over 40 years. It is named after LSU’s favorite basketball son, Pete Maravich and is known to draw decent crowds especially when the Tigers are good (which has been hit-and-miss).
11. Tad Smith Coliseum (Ole Miss)
Bumping the 8, 867 seat Tad Smith Coliseum up the list a bit due to the fact that the Rebels will begin playing in a brand-new, state-of-the-art building starting in 2015 which could be a huge game-changer for Ole Miss basketball.
12. Humphrey Coliseum (Miss. State)
Nicknamed “The Hump,” this 10,000 seat venue has been known to be one of the louder in the SEC and is quite intimidating despite its age. Former Florida Gator Corey Brewer once said of the Humphrey Coliseum “It gets loud, I don’t know why. It’s a different kind of loud. So loud that you can’t think.”
13. Coleman Coliseum (Alabama)
Coleman gets a few extra points because Elvis Presley once played this venue, and as impressive as Bryant-Denny Stadium is in Tuscaloosa, Coleman Coliseum is really just a gym. Nothing really stands out about the venue and the Crimson Tide basketball program has routinely underachieved.
14. Stegeman Coliseum (Georgia)
Coach Mark Fox has done wonders to re-engage fans with Georgia basketball but the small and unimpressive Stegeman Coliseum rarely brings large crowds or excitement.