Georgia Tech travels to play No. 3 Duke on Thursday at Cameron Indoor Stadium, widely regarded as one of the toughest environments to play in college basketball, if not the toughest. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution chose five of the toughest venues:
1. Allen Fieldhouse, Kansas. The Phog has the old-school charm of Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium — considering it was built in 1955, and the court is named for the inventor of the game and first KU coach James A. Naismith — but it’s bigger and louder. More than 16,000 fans pack in every game, including 4,000 students. The Jayhawks have won 100 of their past 101 games at home in the past six years. The only loss in that span was to Texas on Jan. 21, 2011, the day after star player Thomas Robinson’s mother died.
2. Cameron Indoor Stadium, Duke. It’s cozy, hot, and hostile, and a refuge from the weather outside, where students camp out in “Krzyzewskiville” for weeks in anticipation of the North Carolina matchup. The 1,200 students stand practically on top of the floor, close enough to wave in the faces of inbound passers. The Blue Devils have won 101 consecutive non-conference games there, dating to a Feb. 26, 2000 loss to St. John’s.
3. Assembly Hall, Indiana. The house that Bob Knight built had a few down years, but fans still showed up during three 20-loss seasons. Now the Hoosiers are back and ranked No. 2 in the country, and the building is rocking again, with a student section of almost 8,000.
4. The Pit, New Mexico. The home to the 1983 Final Four and Jim Valvano’s famous celebratory run down the court might look like a glorified warehouse from the outside. But inside is an 18,000-seat structure built 37 feet into the ground. The stands are steep, making the atmosphere both intimate and ear-splitting loud.
5. Rupp Arena, Kentucky. Go Big Blue is personified in the so-called “Cathedral of Basketball” in the heart of downtown Lexington. It seats 23,500 and then some. The Wildcats are 487-62 in the building and have won four national titles since it opened in 1976.
Honorable mention: Wisconsin’s Kohl Arena, Gonzaga’s “The Kennel,” Syracuse’s Carrier Dome and Michigan State’s Breslin Center.
Georgia Tech couldn’t exactly blame overlooking Kennesaw State for a slow start Monday night, not as a program only three years removed from a loss to the Owls that was the beginning of the end for the coach Paul Hewitt.