For the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, less and less seats being filled is starting to become a regular deal.
Since the 2013-14 season (when Michigan made its run to the national championship), the Wolverines attendance has dropped at a 12.4 percent rate. Then, their average attendance was 12,698 and ranked 24th nationally.
In the 2016-17 season, Michigan found themselves down to 11,121 fans per contest (18 home games, four conference tournament games) and 33rd overall in the nation, according to an article released from the Big Ten. It's the same place the Wolverines finished in after the 2015-16 campaign.
While where they stand compared to other teams in NCAA Division I basketball isn't exactly low, being 10th place in the Big Ten for attendance is.
Michigan only had two sellouts all season at Crisler, which holds 12,707 seats. However, the Wolverines had a four-game run through the Big Ten Tournament to win it all, enlarging their numbers with crowds that averaged over 12,000 fans per game.
While Michigan has seen their attendance drop in large numbers, the Big Ten was the leader of everyone for the 41st straight season. The conference totaled 3,119,823 fans or 12,235 per game.
Nine members of the conference placed inside the top 30, Michigan was not one of them.
So for a team who won the conference tournament, made a run to the sweet 16 and beat Michigan State, Wisconsin and Purdue at home, it leaves a rather large question mark as to why the numbers continued to drop for fans showing up.
Here are some reasons that I have broke down.
The Harbaugh Effect
Yes, if you're a Michigan basketball and football fan you are still allowed to love Jim Harbaugh. But for John Beilein and the basketball squad, he could be one of the biggest reasons students and fans have lost some interest in going to games.
When Michigan made their two deep runs in the NCAA Tournament (2013-14 and 2014-15), Michigan football was still in their “dark ages” of losing games. The basketball team was starting to gain some major attention by getting back to consistent success.
Then not only UM fans, but the world itself, was shook when Michigan hired Jim Harbaugh. It gave a dead fan base for over six years a shot of adrenaline they so badly needed. It changed the look of Michigan football and showed they were serious about turning their losing ways back into winning.
While Michigan football started to win, Michigan basketball found themselves stumbling to an injury plagued season in 2015-16, finishing an even 16-16.
The atmosphere around the campus began to shift back to football, and basketball was starting to become secondary again. Since that season, the basketball numbers for attendance have went down while football went back up and had fans staying until the end of games once again.
It isn’t Harbaugh’s fault, it shouldn't be that way. Sometimes though, that's how the cookie crumbles with fan bases, it can be hard to look at both sports the same.
Winning games.. but too late
After a pair of very underwhelming seasons from Michigan before last year, going 16-16 and then barely making the NCAA Tournament and losing in the round of 64, the Wolverines didn't exactly sustain any solid, consistent play to open 2016-17 season.
While they did start the year by beating Marquette and SMU to win the 2K Classic, they let the wheels start to fall off for a bit.
They had embarrassing losses to Virginia Tech and South Carolina shortly after their hot start, cooling off the early hype train. Then when Big Ten play started, the Wolverines were in almost every game they played in but couldn't get a victory over a ranked or solid team to shift momentum and they would end up at 4-6 to start conference play.
After an embarrassing loss at home to Ohio State, the Wolverines knew their season was slipping from their fingers and needed a huge win to change the feel around the team.
They got another shot at a rival the following game in MSU.
They didn't miss it.
Michigan blew out the Spartans at Crisler Arena and from there didn't look back until they won the Big Ten Tournament, going 10-2 in their final 12 conference games.
Out of those 12 games, four of them were in Washington D.C. for the conference tournament and in the regular season only three of their final eight games were in Ann Arbor.
Nevertheless, if Michigan would have started playing better before February rolled around when they had more home games, the attendance number may have shot up. When a team plays well, it's no secret fans will show up. Michigan, just started to win when they didn't have many home games left.
For whatever reason, college basketball is beginning to see more and more late tip-offs before the weekend.
ESPN and other networks have signed with a lot of games that start at 9 p.m. or even later on Monday through Friday.
For most college students, class is normal to have during those days and for many, starting them early is the option that works the best with their lives.
The same goes for adults who start their jobs in the early hours of the morning. When they live miles away from where these games are played, driving to watch a game past six or seven o'clock is not something most people would do to watch a regular season college basketball contest.
Michigan had 7-of-18 home games last season start at 8 p.m. or later, making nearly half of their chances to play in front of their fans late starts. It's arguably a reason as to why less fans show up than what could have.
Scheduling marquee games
Last season, Michigan played no non-conference games against ranked opponents and the only one they did have was UCLA on the road.
This season doesn't get any better. Other than UCLA at home, Michigan doesn't host any major games to look forward to in the non-conference home portion of the schedule.
To add insult to injury, Michigan doesn't get to host arguably their biggest rival in MSU at home this season. They will only head to the Breslin Center to take on the Spartans.
The Wolverines are lacking any games of major interest in the non-conference set at home for the second straight year and that certainly will not boost any numbers for the attendance.
In the Big Ten, not having MSU in their building will hurt season ticket holders and fans that make the trip yearly to see the two teams clash.
Whether or not Michigan does see a decrease, increase or even number in attendance totals after this upcoming season, scheduling games that will improve your RPI and have a major impact on Michigan's season will more than likely keep fans glued to their seats.
Regardless of these reasons and whether they truly had an impact on the amount of fans that decided to show up to games, how Michigan ended last season should give their fans something to be excited about. They can look forward to seeing how this year's team can build on what they did last year with some old and new faces.
Beilein and the 2016-17 team gave the fan base something to cheer about and be proud of. Only time will tell what the fan base gives in return.