Purdue Basketball’s Home: Top 10 Natl College Hoops Experience

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There are four states where basketball season is year round- Indiana, North Carolina, Kansas and Kentucky. Given what basketball in the state of Illinois has now become, at all levels, I highly suggest you go next door and check out what the “Crossroads of America” has to offer.

Last night was my first ever experience inside the home of Purdue basketballMackey Arena.

It was long overdue, and well worth the wait. It’s also a bit odd/lazy on my part that it took so long for me to get here. Purdue is actually closer to Chicago than the University of Illinois.

purdue basketball

Seriously, the drive to Mackey Arena, according to Google Maps, is 20 minutes shorter than the trek to the Illini’s State Farm Center. It’s one of those weird, but true situations- like how Detroit and San Francisco are at similar latitudes. (Seriously S.F. is less than 5′ south of the motor city in latitude)

In short, the in arena experience of a Purdue basketball game rates top ten nationally.

It’s better than Indiana’s Assembly Hall.

However, it’s not better than Butler’s Hinkle Fieldhouse, or Michigan State’s Breslin Center. It is still a “bucket list” college hoops venue like MSU, Butler and Indiana.

Obviously, that list starts with Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina.

If you came here looking for hard core Purdue basketball analysis, then I suggest you read my detailed description of the Boilermakers’ NCAA Tournament profile that I posted earlier. You can also check out Hammer and Rails, SB Nation’s Purdue basketball community which I check several times a day during college hoops season.

We’re here to look at the nuances and quirks of Mackey Arena and what makes it such a fun experience on Purdue basketball game night.

Kind of like what we did with Hinkle Fieldhouse, the Fenway Park or Wrigley Field of basketball.

purdue basketball

We’re also going to treat this like we did the write-up of our Nebraska Cornhuskers football game day travelogue. That one got 10,000 page views for a reason! (Apologies for getting a bit Kanye Westian/Donald Trumpian there)

First off, any stadium where Sugar Hill Gang’s “Apache” and the Family Guy theme are marching band staples is A-OK in my book. I also loved how the Boiler fans randomly scream “IU Suck” at completely inappropriate times, during games against opponents who are not Indiana University!

Maybe this place is more like Fenway than I thought?

At the home of the Green Monster on Yawkey Way, BoSox fans often yell “Yankees Suck” during games against teams that are not the Yankees.

Hey, this is Indiana, the land of the “Hoosiers” from Hickory High. Mackey Arena is literally located on John Wooden Drive. I almost half expected the chairs here to be made out of peach baskets. Of course, this is an engineering school, so when fans get the fun scoreboard quizzes during breaks in the action they get asked queries such as this:

“What’s wider, a basketball court or a Lockheed-Martin F-22 Raptor?”

Speaking on engineering, of a different variety, did I mention how much I loved the train tracks leading to the court? I just had to selfie with it.

Another colorful observation, the public address announcer, to me at least, sounds a lot like Thurl Ravenscroft, the very deep voiced man who lent his vocals to  “You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch…your heart is made of unwashed socks, your soul is full of gunk, Mrrrrr. Grinncchhhhhh.”

When I saw the arena was right off  “Northwestern Avenue” I really thought the Wildcats would have a chance in this one.

Not so much as Purdue went up big early and then it put it on cruise control the rest of the way. Yet somehow both teams unimpressed on both ends of the court. NU came back close enough to give them a bit of a scare, but overall the actual game itself was a bit of a snooze fest. The Wildcats got all the open looks that a very perimeter focused team such as themselves could want.

They just didn’t knock ’em down.

It’s pretty clear that Purdue was really looking ahead to their rivalry game at Indiana this weekend, because it was a lackluster effort all around. That’s okay though, experiencing a hoops monument like this for the first time more than makes up for it.

I’m sure I won’t be thinking at all about lackluster efforts on the hardwood and uninspired, dull play when I have the well-esteemed local delicacy known as a Purvis burger at Triple XXX Family Diner. Numerous Purdue basketball fans and PU grads have pointed me in the direction of this marvelous sounding cheeseburger with peanut butter dripping all over it.

New Year’s resolutions and indoor triathlon training will have to wait for awhile.

#YOLO in West Lafayette once.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, partnered with FOX Sports Engage Network. and News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, currently contributes regularly to the Chicago Tribune’s RedEye publication and Bold Global.

He also consistently appears on numerous talk shows all across the country. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram

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