Ohio State basketball struggled again last season, missing the NCAA Tournament while failing to make much of an impact against the best teams in the Big Ten. Another season with the Buckeyes failing to make national noise has led to some declining fan interest, especially when it comes to attendance.
The NCAA released their official attendance figures from last season, and Ohio State's took a tumble. The Buckeyes averaged 12,283 fans a game, or 257,957 total fans, for the 2015-2016 season. That was good for 28th in the country, and 9th in the Big Ten.
The Buckeyes averaged 14,648 fans a game (16th in the country) in 2014-2015, and 16,474 fans a game (8th) in 2013-2014. Typically a regular staple in the top 16 or so nationally, the 28th mark is Ohio State's worst since the 1997-1998 season, when they averaged 9,970 fans a game (39th in the country). The Buckeyes went 8-22 that season.
Last season, programs like Arkansas, BYU, Alabama, Utah, Nebraska and Dayton all averaged more fans per game than Ohio State.
Even in so-so years, Ohio State is likely to be near the top of the national attendance figures, in part because of the massive capacity of Value City Arena, which has a state capacity of 18,809 for men's basketball. But it would appear that three years of diminishing returns on the court, plus lackluster out of conference home schedules, have taken a toll a little bit.
The good news is, Ohio State should be a better basketball team than they were last season, and winning tends to cure a lot of apathy. It's unclear to what extend the schedule will give Ohio State any favors, though. Ohio State will host Connecticut and Providence, but games with Navy, Virginia and UCLA will be held outside of Columbus. The Big Ten schedule has not yet been released.
While it doesn't offer the same home court advantage of say, Assembly Hall, the Schott can be a difficult place to play if it is full and loud. It was clear just from TV broadcasts that it wasn't always so intimidating last season, and now the math proves it. We'll see if there's a turnaround for next year.