TripSavvy ranked UK the 11th best destination in college basketball and I have some questions.
You can read the entire top 13 destinations HERE, but I’ll provided their rankings:
4. Michigan State
6. Iowa State
It seems the ranker, James Thompson, valued arena atmosphere along with restaurants/bars near the arenas. In some places weather seemed to be a factor, but mostly it was arena atmospheres and food. Sadly as a media member at Rupp Arena the $7 food voucher doesn’t allow you to do both, and when the Cats play a garbage team we go 0/2. #BringBackPapaJohn’s.
But as far as the criteria for rankings, I’m down with both those things. I love food and eat it pretty much three times a day, and I love good college basketball atmospheres.
I’ve only been to a few of the bars/restaurants on this list, but it seems Thompson has made a slew of horrible mistakes putting Dayton, VCU and Pittsburgh No. 1, 2 and 3. If you don’t want UK to be No. 1 I’m perfectly fine with that. There are better atmospheres than Rupp Arena. I very much like the food in and bar scenes in Lexington when you get away from Rupp, but even those establishments could be topped elsewhere.
But if you put it together, restaurants and atmosphere, UK isn’t topped by Dayton, VCU or Pitt.
Here’s what Thompson said about UK:
“Kentucky is the only state in the south that cares more about basketball than it does football, which is what raises Kentucky near the top of our list. Big Blue Nation cares about their Kentucky Wildcats so much that the conversation permeates through talk radio and bar chatter on a 24/7 basis. Rupp Arena holds 23,500, which is largest college basketball venue that’s not a football stadium. (Syracuse’s Carrier Dome holds 33,000 for college basketball games.) We all know what UK offers in terms of basketball history. It’s hard to match up with 17 Final Fours and eight national championships. The double burger at Parkette Drive-In is a local delicacy and the live music at Two Keys Tavern will have you loving your trip. The added benefit of sneaking away for some time on the Bourbon Trail is the cherry on top of your Kentucky sundae experience.”
Nothing against Parkette, but if you’re traveling specifically into Lexington for a basketball game I’m going somewhere better. Perhaps Saul Good? Maybe Malone’s if I’m feeling fancy? If you want to go somewhere cheaper and quicker then what about Joe Bologna’s (best pizza in Lex)?
Also, I went to Two Keys a lot in college. It’s a fine suggestion for out-of-towners heading to Lexington to take in the UK atmosphere away from Rupp, but do they often have live music? Was Thompson thinking Tin Roof? Maybe Two Keys has more live music than I’m remembering but it was mostly just DJs. It makes me question Thompson’s entire list.
When I hear top college basketball destinations I take it as “If you’re going to make a college basketball trip here’s where you need to go.” On my list Dayton, VCU and Pittsburgh wouldn’t make the top 15. I love the food in Pittsburgh, but even when the Panthers have been relevant the Petersen Events Center is underwhelming. Food alone doesn’t make Pittsburgh a top basketball destination.
My list for the top places to travel to see a college basketball game would be:
7. Michigan State
Things to do in the city matter, but if you’re traveling to go watch college basketball you need to go to a place that loves and lives it. If you go to any of those places and you plan accordingly you could see a monster matchup. You’re not getting monster matchups at Dayton or VCU.
How would you rank the top 10 college basketball destinations?