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2012 WNIT Final: Comparing James Madison And Oklahoma State As Host Schools

Today, when I was pondering San Diego coach Cindy Fisher's repeated mention of Oklahoma State's home court advantage, I started looking into some of the numbers for both the Cowgirls and their Saturday foe, James Madison. Both teams have hosted five games in the tournament en route to the championship game.

The WNIT sets forth some guidelines on how a host institution will be selected, on their website:

How the host schools are chosen
The host site for each game is selected by the WNIT committee based on several factors such as fan base, host bids, facility availability, tournament seed, travel constraints, etc. A team's desire or ability to host or not to host has absolutely no bearing on that team being chosen for the 64-team field.

Since I don't know anything at all about tournament seeds, facility availability and travel constraints, I decided to look into what I could. So I started looking specifically at the 'fan base' question, in particular, to compare OSU and James Madison's attendance numbers thus far:


James Madison

1,324 (vs. Central Arkansas)

1,028 (vs. Davidson)

1,482 (vs. Wichita State)

1,111 (vs. Wake Forest)

2,372 (vs. Missouri State)

2,354 (vs. South Florida)

2,392 (vs. Colorado)

3,301 (vs. Virginia)

3,484 (vs. San Diego)

4,008 (vs. Syracuse)

Their regular season numbers - or at least averages to this point - are comparatively similar. James Madison had 2,364 fans a game, with yesterday's contest vs. Syracuse being their largest crowd of the season. OSU averaged 2,501 per game, but posted 5,543 people in Stillwater for Bedlam in January. So the potential of eclipsing 5,000 I guess would be greater for the Cowgirls, particularly since they've done it before this season (and at least once in quite a few seasons for the Beat OU game).

Seating capacity also must be taken into account, as JMU's Convocation Center has the ability to hold 7,156 people. Gallagher-Iba Arena, also known as " the rowdiest arena in the country" to many, can fit 13,611 fans in the orange seats surrounding Eddie Sutton Court.

The Big 12 has the largest average attendance of any conference in the nation, but OSU currently ranks ninth out of 10 teams. The men, on the other hand, have the sixth spot in conference attendance with 9,239 people flocking to GIA a night. And this is considered an attendance slump for the Cowboys, if you didn't know.

"Let's go fill the thing!" said OSU coach Jim Littell last night.

Even if the OSU fans don't pack the stands to the rafters, it will take a five-figure number to break into the Top 10 attended games in WNIT history, and it will be impossible to nab the record. The 2001 championship game at The Pit in New Mexico recorded a whopping 18,018 fans. So the men's mark will miss the mark.

But if the Sea of Orange reports in full force, OSU has the chance to slip into fifth just ahead of conference-mate, Kansas State (13,340 - 2006 championship game).

So here is my call to action - buy tickets, go to Gallagher-Iba, support these women who have shown the true definition of team and determination throughout this trying season. Watch some good basketball being played by the last team standing in the state and make the home court advantage a true advantage yet again for the Pokes. And cheer these Cowgirls to victory.

Shelley Budke needs to cut down some more nets this season. And as many people as possible should be there to watch it happen. #KBMS