Kentucky basketball: Big Blue Madness campout reaches capacity in anticipation of 2017-18 season
The Kentucky men's basketball program has arguably one of the most dedicated and loyal fan base in all of college sports, and if that wasn’t already made apparent over the years, the dedication to just watch practice speaks for itself.
Kentucky held its annual Big Blue Madness campout starting Wednesday morning at 5 a.m. in anticipation of this Friday’s ticket release at 10 p.m.
Big Blue Madness is Kentucky’s first open practice of the year and will take place Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. Both the men’s and women’s teams will be introduced in addition to practice drills, scrimmages, dunk contests, videos and more will be on display.
In previous years, former Kentucky stars such as John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Willie Cauley-Stein have introduced the incoming group of Wildcat talent. In 2014 it was rapper Drake who introduced John Calipari at the annual basketball event.
The tent count reached its capacity Thursday morning when Kentucky Athletics announced it had reached capacity of about 295 tents. As in year’s past, Big Blue Madness will be aired on the SEC Network.
Once again campout space was limited because of the construction surrounding Memorial Coliseum, which serves as the home for the Wildcats women’s basketball, volleyball and gymnastics teams.
Members of the Wildcats rewarded their fans Thursday night by delivering pizza and signing autographs to the dedicated campers who been in tents since early Wednesday morning.
Big Blue Madness is Kentucky’s version of Midnight Madness, a tradition in college basketball where programs at all levels host public practices on the earliest day permitted by the NCAA. Former Maryland coach Lefty Driesell is credited with beginning the tradition back in 1971. Kentucky is one of the many national powerhouses that have made the event one of the most popular days of the college basketball season.
Kentucky once again held the top spot in home attendance, averaging 23,461 fans per game. The program has led the nation in home attendance in 19 of the last 22 years dating back to 1996, and the other three years were narrowly edged-out by Syracuse.
The Wildcats open their season Nov. 10 at Rupp Arena Against Utah Valley, and conference play commences Dec. 31 against Georgia.