The Seton Hall men’s basketball team has seen a steady increase in the number of fans attending its regular season home games over the last few years. With the team in position for title contention in the Big East and a deep NCAA Tournament run possibly looming, the fan attendance this season is needed now more than ever.
Attendance at home games, whether against the top intra-conference opponents or teams at the bottom of the standings, will be a necessary factor this season.
In February 2017, the Prudential Center saw its largest showing ever for a Seton Hall game when 16,733 people came out to see the Pirates take on No. 2 Villanova Wildcats. The demand for that game forced the Prudential Center to open its upper level, as the game shattered the previous attendance record of 13,369, which was set in 2012 against former Big East foe Syracuse according to NCAA.org.
Two seasons ago, the Hall was 67th in the nation in total attendance as 113,125 fans walked through the turnstiles over 16 home games, making for an average 7,070 fans a game.
Since then, home attendance has been on the rise and last season the total number of fans was 111,350, but for only 14 games, making the average attendance increased to 7,953 people per game. That attendance ranking was good enough for 62nd in the nation.
According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s statistics, Seton Hall had the 18th best increase for average attendance from the previous year to the 2016-17 season out of the 347 total Division I teams across college basketball. Villanova, St. John’s (N.Y.) and Creighton were the only Big East teams with higher increases.
Coach Kevin Willard has touched upon the importance of the student section of the crowd, with this season being the first for student season tickets to sell out.
“The one thing that we’ve had tremendous over the last four years, our student section has been as good as it gets, it really has,” Willard said. “It’s not easy for them, but our students have been absolutely phenomenal.”
Of the teams with the 10 best total attendances last season, seven made the NCAA Tournament. Furthermore, the teams that qualified for the tournament had a combined record of 103-15 at home during the season, which means they combined to have a win percentage of 85 percent at home.
With expectations as high as they have been in recent years, Seton Hall men’s basketball needs fans to come out and support now more than ever. If attendance is indicative of anything, it is that support provides an off-court element that energizes the home team in times of need.
Evando Thompson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Thompsev.