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Courtney Martinez and Brenden Welper | January 25, 2021

9 of the most interesting court designs in college basketball

Andy Katz's 10 iconic venues in college basketball

The recent trend among college basketball programs is to have visually-stunning home courts. Some programs keep it simple. But for others, the crazier, the better.

Fans either love them or hate them, but there is no denying how much attention they grab. Let's take a look at nine of the most unusual and interesting court designs in college basketball today.

CSU Bakersfield, Icardo Center

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If the blue turf became so iconic for Boise State football, then it's worth a shot for a blue-top basketball court, right? It's the thinking that CSU Bakersfield may have had when creating its eclectic look in 2011. It seems to have worked for the Roadrunners. Three years after implementing the blue court, CSU Bakersfield updated the design elements while still keeping the bright background color. 

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Florida International, FIU Arena 

FIU Athletics Florida International basketball's tropical court design.

Want to think of nice, warm, sandy beaches? Then look no further than Florida International's court design, which showcases its South Florida location. Back in 2013, the Panthers decided to take a bold approach with the original court redesign above and it definitely had people talking. The court did take a hit in September 2014 after damages occurred at a non-FIU event, but luckily the court and its design returned back as good as new.

George Washington, Charles E. Smith Center

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George Washington took advantage of its location and installed a new court in 2013 to reflect its rich Washington D.C. history. The court at the Charles E. Smith Center features a number of national landmarks such as the United States Capitol, White House and, naturally, the Washington Monument. Check out the time lapse video released after the completion as well. The Charles E. Smith Center also hosted the Washington Mystics for several games in the 2018 WNBA playoffs. 

Memphis, FedExForum 

Memphis Athletics The Memphis Tigers' current court design, introduced before the 2019-20 season.

It's no coincidence that Memphis introduced a new basketball court the same year that Penny Hardaway took over as head coach at his alma mater. In fact, every step of the design process went through Hardaway. The result is seen in the picture above. Memphis' logo dominates center court. With the exception of the mid-range area, which is painted in gray, the entire court is blue in one form or another. Each lane also features a tiger-striped pattern. The baseline and sideline have a darker pattern of tiger stripes to top it all off. Love it or hate it, the look is instantly recognizable.

Northern Kentucky, BB&T Arena

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Northern Kentucky unveiled its new design in August 2015. And it has a giant Viking ship painted on the floor. Good luck trying to invade the Norse's home territory. NKU wanted to change the court to represent its big move to the Horizon League. "We wanted a new, fresh look for the court to showcase the Norse brand," athletic director Ken Bothof said in 2015. "The Norse ship rising through the sea is meant to serve as a metaphor for the uprising of Northern Kentucky athletics."

Notre Dame, Purcell Pavilion

Notre Dame Athletics Notre Dame's current floor design features a subtle shamrock enclosing center court.

What says Fighting Irish more than a giant shamrock in the middle of the court? It gives Notre Dame a different look from other schools that incorporate state outlines in center court. Plus, the two-tone hardwood and deep blue really ties everything today. The court was installed as part of Notre Dame's massive renovation to the Joyce Center. The Purcell Pavilion opened in 2009 and the Irish have been playing on this art piece ever since.

Oakland, Athletics Center O'rena 

Oakland Athletics Oakland basketball refers to its playing surface as a "blacktop" instead of a court.

This next design harkens back to the days of playing basketball on asphalt, which is exactly what Oakland was going for. The Golden Grizzlies introduced their current playing surface (which they refer to as the "Blacktop") before the 2015-16 season. According to the school, it's the nation's only all-black court. Two outlines of the state of Michigan can also be found near center court. Lines added for a volleyball match can be seen in the photo above. Those are removed for basketball games.

UNLV, Thomas & Mack Center

UNLV Athletics The skyline of Las Vegas rises from the sideline on UNLV basketball's court.

Teams that play in urban areas often incorporate the local cityscape onto their court. UNLV is no different, but the skyline of Las Vegas certainly is. The Rebels added that, and much more, to their playing surface in time for the 2017-18 season. Rising from the baseline is some of the city's most iconic landmarks: The "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign, High Roller ferris wheel, New York-York Hotel & Casino and other buildings on the Las Vegas Strip. Where else will you see a silhouette of two flamingos on a basketball court?

UTEP, Don Haskins Center

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Whether or not you have an axe to grind with it, the design from the University of Texas-El Paso pays a fitting homage to its mascot. The mirroring pickaxes respect both the men's and women's programs and ties it together with the pick in the Miners' logo, too. The court is definitely eye-catching thanks to the orange tones as well, but it isn't too much in your face like others. It's a safe to say the Miners struck gold with the design that debuted before the 2013-14 season. UTEP released a cool time lapse video too.

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