I've always been fascinated with not only the play on the field and on the court, but also the facilities that they take place in.
Thought it might be a good time during the Christmas/New Year's lull to take a look at the 14 member institutions' basketball venues.
They are ranked from worst to first, with my comments:14) Tad Smith Coliseum, Ole Miss
What to say about this monstorsity? Opened in 1966, this 9,061 seat arena is easily the worst place to watch a game in the conference. Last year, the lights went out when the Hogs played there. Luckily for Rebel fans, a new arena is slated to be built in the next few years.13) Stegeman Coliseum, Georgia
Opened in 1964, this building has been improved in recent years, but not to the point that it probably should be. Georgia basketball has never been very relevant on the national scene, and it doesn't provide much for atmosphere.12) Humphrey Coliseum, Mississippi State
The "Hump Dump" debuted in 1975 and the only reason it isn't ranked behind the Tad Pad and Stegeman is because it is newer. It can get loud and Mississippi State does play well there (like Ole Miss does at Tad) but you should play well at home, regardless.11) Coleman Coliseum, Alabama
Not a terrible place to watch basketball, but the Crimson Nation doesn't really care about basketball enough for it to make a difference. It has a unique ceiling, but it always seems dark on television. It opened in 1968 and was renovated in 2005.10) Auburn Arena, Auburn
The newest SEC arena, but it doesn't rank very high because 1) Auburn doesn't really care about basketball and 2) Auburn doesn't play well there. The Hogs love playing there, though.9) Memorial Gym, Vanderbilt
In terms of nostalgia, this should be a lot higher. But it's the oldest arena in the conference and the whole raised court, benches in the end zone thing is overplayed and it doesn't provide an intimidating atmosphere. Maravich Assembly Center, LSU
Nothing spectacular about this venue, other than it being named after one of the most decorated college basketball players of all time. It opened in 1972 and for 40 years it has always been a 'meh' on the college basketball landscape, despite being nicknamed the 'Deaf Dome' by Dickie V.7) Reed Arena, Texas A&M
Don't know much about this place because I've only watched Arkansas play in it once, but it was opened in 1998 and cost nearly $37 million to build. Looks like a fun environment if the fans show up and are loud.6) O'Connell Center, Florida
In 1980, the Gators moved into the O'Dome and it has been fun ever since. The students are on top of you and it gets loud. Easily one of the best environments in not only the SEC, but college basketball. Leaves a bit to be desired aesthetically, though.5) Colonial Life Arena, South Carolina
One of the newer venues in the conference, it seats 18,000 and cost $65 million to build, but the Gamecocks have never done anything of substance to warrant a full house, other than that upset of Kentucky a few years ago.4) Mizzou Arena, Missouri
Like A&M, I haven't watched much basketball be played here, but I know that it's a heck of a lot better than the Hearnes Center, seats 15,000 comfortably and that the Tigers play extremely well there. Also cost $75 million to erect.3) Thompson-Boling Arena, Tennessee
If the fans cared as much about the men's program as they do the women, you could make a case for this being No. 1. But they don't. Opened in 1987, it had the most capacity in the conference for 20 years but renovations gave it back to Rupp.2) Bud Walton Arena, Arkansas
Still "The Basketball Palace of Mid-America" 20 years later. When it's rocking, it's hard to find a better place to watch a college basketball game. Unfortunately, it hasn't rocked nearly enough for over a decade now. Hopefully Mike gets it back to that level, seeing as he played a pivotal role in getting it built.1) Rupp Arena, Kentucky
As much as I love BWA, I can't put it over the Rupp. Even though it's been around for almost 40 years now, it has woven its way into the fabric of college basketball, whether for UK basketball, SEC or NCAA tournaments. More fans can fit into it then any other ARENA in the U.S. Back in '76, it cost $55 million to build. That'd be $217 million today.