If Albuquerque had an NBA team, the University of New Mexico's University Arena, a.k.a. the Pit, would be a facility of great felicity. It has all the charmlessness of a professional arena: a capacity of 18,000-plus, acres of parking and 28,000 yards of poured concrete circa 1966. Problem is, the Pit is supposed to be a college arena. On that count it comes up woefully short, and not only because its floor sits 37 feet underground. Yes, the nickname is picturesque, and a flat roof stokes the decibel level. However, SI's decision in 1999 to rank the Pit as one of the top sporting venues of the 20th century-ahead of St. Andrew's, the Rose Bowl and (most insupportably) Philadelphia's Palestra-makes the case for its overratedness an easy one.
Just as big league baseball is meant to be played in ballparks, college hoops belongs in field houses. None is more marinated in tradition than Kansas's 46-year-old Allen Fieldhouse (left), which instead of Pit-style concrete is composed of brick. I love the address (1651 Naismith Drive) and the location (middle of campus), as well as the concession stands wedged under the seats and the gantlet fans form to high-five the Jayhawks as they jog from the locker room to the floor. More than anything, though, I love how Kansas reserves more than 7,000 seats for students, an astonishing 45% of capacity. Allen is a monument to the truth that big time doesn't have to be done up slick.