Miami basketball ranked sixth best city in the country

MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 15: Dewan Huell
MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 15: Dewan Huell /

Miami basketball has been ranked the sixth best city in the country for hoops. The rankings were done by Wallethub.Com. They included both NBA and Division I college basketball programs in the rankings.

The Miami basketball program had as much to do with the rankings as the Heat. Jim Larranaga has created a definitive homecourt atmosphere at the Watsco Center.

The Hurricanes sold out season tickets for the third straight season in 2017-18. The Miami basketball team also advanced to their third straight NCAA Tournament for the second time in program history.

Coral Gables is becoming a landing spot for top recruits. Miami has signed three blue-chip recruits in the last two seasons.

Rising Junior forward Dewan Huell and Freshman Lonnie Walker and Sophomore Bruce Brown were all top 30 players in their signing classes. Brown and Walker left school, signed with agents and are headed to the NBA.

Miami landed in large city category. Wallet hub describes this as any city with more than 300,000 people. The only cities ahead of Miami are Los Angeles, Boston, Oakland, San Antonio and Salt Lake City. San Antonio is the only city in that group to not have a school that could be labeled a major college basketball destination.

Boston has one and L.A., Oakland or the Bay Area and Salt Lake City all have two each. Los Angeles has UCLA and USC, the Bay Area Cal and Stanford and Salt Lake City BYU and Utah.

The Cougars play in the West Coast Conference. Other than Gonzaga that’s considered a mid-major conference. Their home arena the Marriott Center holds 19,000 fans. That’s a greater capacity than the Utah Jazz’s home arena. Vivint Smart Home Arena holds 18,300 fans.

Salt Lake City was ranked as a mid-size city and finished first in that category. In the rankings for large cities, Miami finished fifth. Miami was also the highest ranked city in Florida.

Orlando finished 17th overall and second among midsize cities. The University of Florida and Gainesville finished 20th in the midsize city category and Tallahassee and Florida State was 67th which was tenth from the bottom in the midsize city category.

"Wallet Hub’s criteria for the rankings were: “based on 21 key metrics, ranging from the performance level of each city’s NBA and NCAA Division 1 basketball teams to ticket prices to stadium accessibility. Read on to find the full list of winners, a ranking by city size, commentary from a panel of experts and how we ranked the cities.”"

They weighted the cities with NBA teams higher than those without. That gave Miami a big advantage. The Hurricanes draw well, but the Watsco Center only has a capacity of 8,000. When the Hoop Hall Doubleheader has been held at American Airlines Arena, they have struggled to fill it up.

Last year’s doubleheader featured Kansas against Syracuse and the Hurricanes and Princeton. The announced attendance was 8.426. Most of the fans had left by the time Miami and Princeton had played the doubleheader. When the Hurricanes play at the Watsco Center and the Heat are at home it’s a different story.

The Heat’s four year run to the NBA Finals between 2011-14 brought basketball to the forefront in Miami. That has helped the Hurricanes as well. UM is able to offer a more affordable option to families. The atmosphere and Hurricanes on-court success has helped as well.

Next: Dewan Huell announces return for Junior Year

The Hurricanes defeated Duke and North Carolina at home in 2017 and won in Chapel Hill this past season. There will not be the stars the Hurricanes had with Brown and Walker next season, but Miami should still be competitive.