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UW vs. Minnesota

Badgers' Nate Reuvers (35) and Ethan Happ defend against Minnesota's Jordan Murphy in a Feb. 19 game at the Kohl Center. A wintry mix on the roads likely contributed to a scanned ticket count of only 9,468, but the season as a whole produced smaller crowds than usual.

STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL

The first losing season in 20 years brought new lows in ticket usage for the University of Wisconsin men's basketball team.

The Badgers had an average of fewer than 12,000 fans in the seats for regular-season home games for the first time in 12 seasons of data.

And for the only time since ticket scanners started counting the number of fans to enter the Kohl Center in 2006, UW didn't have a single crowd reaching 15,000 spectators.

The Badgers reported a season average attendance of 17,272, just 15 shy of a sellout and a figure that ranked first in the Big Ten Conference and fourth nationally.

But that represents the number of tickets sold or distributed for games. In the 2017-18 season, fewer than 70 percent of those tickets were used.

The average number of tickets scanned for the 18 regular-season men's basketball home games was 11,870, a 10 percent drop from the average for the previous 11 seasons on record.

On average, there were 5,402 no-shows per game, more than 600 higher than the closest previous season.

The Badgers were 11-7 at home, their worst record since the 1997-98 team went 7-8 during the last overall losing season.

They failed to reach 10,000 spectators in two games in 2017-18. One was the Dec. 13 non-conference game against Western Kentucky, for which 9,298 tickets were scanned.

Non-conference games typically see ticket counts far lower than for Big Ten games.

But the other sub-10,000 game was against Minnesota on Feb. 19, when a wintry mix on the roads helped limit the crowd to just 9,468, a 45 percent no-show rate.

Games against the Golden Gophers have typically drawn well — the previous low was 13,699 — but a Monday night game in poor weather featuring two teams in the bottom half of the Big Ten standings didn't move the meter.

Only one UW conference contest has produced a smaller crowd in 12 seasons of data collection. Up against a Green Bay Packers playoff game on Jan. 15, 2012, the Badgers drew only 8,612 against Nebraska.

Five of the 18 regular-season home games were on non-traditional days — Mondays or Fridays — because of a condensed schedule caused by the Big Ten moving its tournament up a week so it could be at New York's Madison Square Garden.

The other Monday home game also attracted a small crowd: 10,655 against Nebraska on Jan. 29.

The three Friday games fared better than the rest, averaging 12,374 fans for games against South Carolina State, Milwaukee and Illinois.

The highest actual attendance for a UW home game this season was 13,917 for the finale against Michigan State on Feb. 25.

The Badgers had cracked the 15,000 level at least once in each of the 11 previous seasons with scanner data.

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