Iowa’s expected sellout crowd of 15,400 tonight for its game against Indiana State will be the anomaly of anomalies in the National Invitation Tournament.
You explain it to me. The Hawkeyes’ Jan. 10 home game against Michigan State drew 12,872. But Iowa’s first-round NIT home game against Dayton last March had a crowd of 13,190.
I have a theory: Iowa fans love the NIT.
The rest of America other than Robert Morris, however? Not so much. Not at all, in fact.
Robert Morris, of course, had a standing-room-only crowd of 3,444 for its 59-57 upset win over Kentucky Tuesday night. Most tournaments build in drama. The NIT hit its high-water mark on the first day, like NASCAR does with the Daytona 500.
The Colonials of suburban Pittsburgh probably would have had double the crowd had the capacity been available. And their total attendance this season for their 15 previous home games was 15,692, with a high of 2,093 for their Pittsburgh city rival, Duquesne. If there ever will be a single-game crowd as “small” as 15,692 at Kentucky, well, there won’t.
Elsewhere in NIT-world, however, the Tuesday night crowds were “intimate.”
Washington at BYU: 7,511 (This easily was BYU’s smallest home crowd of the year. Its season-average had been 16,707.)
Norfolk State at Virginia: 4,790
Niagara at Maryland: 4,053
St. John’s at St. Joseph’s: 3,148
Louisiana Tech at Florida State: 2,989
Northeastern at Alabama: 2,889
Ohio at Denver: 2,094
Stephen F. Austin at Stanford: 1,050
Total for 9 games: 35,412 (3,935 average)
This includes three ACC programs, and one each from the Pac-12 and SEC.