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UK not in the top 10 of best college basketball destinations

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:

1. Dayton

2. VCU

3. Pittsburgh

4. Michigan State

5. UNC

6. Iowa State

7. Arizona

8. Butler

9. Indiana

10. Maryland

11. Kentucky

12. Kansas

13. Duke

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:

1. Kansas

2. Duke

3. UK

4. Indiana

5. Butler

6. Louisville

7. Michigan State

8. Purdue

9. UNC

10. Syracuse

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?

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Article written by TJ Walker

19 Comments for UK not in the top 10 of best college basketball destinations



  1. Ridge Runner
    10:09 pm June 4, 2018 Permalink

    Dayton #1? Well… it got James some clicks on his rankings for sure.

    Agree with your assessment, TJ



    • Ridge Runner
      10:17 pm June 4, 2018 Permalink

      minus Butler which I could not comment on as never being near there.



  2. FinnaGoHAM
    10:20 pm June 4, 2018 Permalink

    #7 Wednesday evening session of SEC Tournament in Nashville
    #6 Thursday afternoon of SEC Tournament in Nashville
    #5 Thursday evening of SEC Tournament in Nashville
    #4 Non-UK Friday session of SEC Tournament in Nashville
    #3 Friday UK session of SEC Tournament in Nashville
    #2 SEC Tournament Semifinals in Nashville
    #1: SEC Tournament Final in Nashville.
    (I know it doesn’t “fit” the criteria exactly, but I do what I want)



  3. Realme
    10:57 pm June 4, 2018 Permalink

    Anyone who thinks Joe B’s is the best pizza in Lexington needs a taste buds implant.



    • Realme
      10:59 pm June 4, 2018 Permalink

      I’m tired. Meant transplant.



  4. KYFAN4LYFE
    12:31 am June 5, 2018 Permalink

    Louisville?? REALLY??? I live in E-town, so less than 40 minutes from L’ville, and we don’t go there more than 2 times/yr. If I had tickets to UK-UL in Yum!, I’d sell them and stay home.



    • 3Goggles
      9:19 am June 5, 2018 Permalink

      Louisville has a great atmosphere at their basketball games (even though the “I got your back” chant makes me nauseous). And downtown Louisville around the Yum! center is a lot of fun for out of towners with 4th street live, troll pub, bearnos, and others all in arms reach.



  5. ukcamel
    12:50 am June 5, 2018 Permalink

    Duke/Durham is the most overrated place to watch college basketball. People barely care unless it’s UNC or a top-5 team. It’s a better atmosphere to go to a Duke game at MSG.



  6. Memphis UK Cat
    2:10 am June 5, 2018 Permalink

    I would agree with VCU not getting big name teams but it is a heck of a venue.



  7. runningunnin.454
    5:56 am June 5, 2018 Permalink

    Crap, I’ve been to Dayton, back in the day UK would play Marquette in Dayton in the NCAA tournament. You were lucky if you could find a place for a beer after the game.
    Indiana…really?
    Pittsburgh is still Pittsburgh.
    Michigan State; guy must be a dog lover.



    • bigbluebanana
      7:12 am June 5, 2018 Permalink

      Hold up, I live in Pittsburgh, have for 7 years…you’re selling it short. There’s TONS to do here! Whether just bar hopping, food hopping, or just wanting to see beautiful scenery, there is a LOT to do here.



    • runningunnin.454
      7:50 am June 5, 2018 Permalink

      O.K. mostly I was making jokes; and, I didn’t understand that guy’s list. It seemed the quality of the basketball had nothing to do with it.
      Guess he was saying if you put UK and Duke, or UK vs Kansas in Dayton; then it would be a good experience.



    • bigbluebanana
      9:45 am June 5, 2018 Permalink

      Oh, in that case, yes! Pittsburgh is horrible for basketball. No one cares for it here, all football and hockey. Pitt’s campus and arena is cool, but atmosphere stinks, even when they play good ACC schools. The Penguins arena where they often hold rounds of the NCAA tourney has a great basketball atmosphere in March though.



    • 3Goggles
      9:21 am June 5, 2018 Permalink

      Dayton restaurants are some of the worst restaurants i have been to. The bars are pretty good if you’re a college student, but the real fun is at the house parties in the “ghetto”.



  8. John Henry
    7:48 am June 5, 2018 Permalink

    There is Kentucky, then there is everybody else. End of discussion.



  9. chrisg18
    8:37 am June 5, 2018 Permalink

    LOL if you come to Lexington and go to Parkette or Two Keys for game atmosphere. When did this guy last come to Lex? 1998? Nick’s list is also a bunch of rubbish. Lexington has grown up exponentially in the last 10 years and there are tons better places/areas to visit for pre or post game, including downtown, Jefferson Street, and Distillery District. All of which are close to Rupp to easily enjoy before or after a game.



    • chrisg18
      8:39 am June 5, 2018 Permalink

      Oops, meant TJ’s list. I guess I just get in the habit of disagreeing with all of Roush’s opinions so I assumed this was his post.



  10. footblue
    9:18 am June 5, 2018 Permalink

    OMG. I live in Dayton, been to Dayton games. It is a great arena atmosphere and they are weirdly cultish in their following of UD basket ball but there is NOTHING around the arena except LOVES truck stop with a Hardees. They used the Pine Club restaurant(which is in decline) as a their food choice and the Parkette in Lexington. Seriously. Malone’s beats the hell out of the Pine club. So many more great food choices in Lexington. With that said I would not put UK anywhere near the top.



    • footblue
      9:22 am June 5, 2018 Permalink

      if you are talking about AVERAGE in game/arena atmosphere I would give UD the ranking ahead of UK. Rupp is horrible. I actually dislike going unless it is a big game and I have lowers.