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Quantifying Big Blue's Madness

Big Blue Madness isn’t about the opening of team practices. Not anymore, anyway. It’s not about showing the fans any sort of legitimate team preview, even though the loose scrimmage offered some insight.

The ovation for John Wall (left) was the loudest moment at Big Blue Madness on Friday. Rupp Arena escalated to 110.1 decibels when Wall was introduced. | Photo by Jeff Drummond

It’s about lasers and fireworks, plenty of which were implemented Friday night. It’s about coaches giving fans something to cheer about; otherwise, why else would women’s hoops coach Matthew Mitchell dress up like Michael Jackson—complete with fedora, white socks, a sparkly jacket and one glove—and moonwalk across a large stage?

It’s about anything to make fans loud with a nice collection of top-of-the-class recruits sitting in on the Madness.

But what makes fans the loudest?

In an effort to quantify and sort the night’s loudest moments, observed the entirety of Big Blue Madness with a decibel-reading iPhone app. The readouts were recorded.

The loudest sequence of the night was the introduction of a group of UK alumni now in the NBA, and the loudest single moment came from within that sequence when John Wall was introduced. Wall’s introduction spiked the meter at 110.1 decibels.

The top 11 readouts of the night were for player introductions, including all nine of the NBA players in attendance. The other two were for current Cats Darius Miller and Doron Lamb.

John Calipari (whose introduction was the 12th-loudest moment of Big Blue Madness 2011) gave what amounted to a campaign speech given to the fans but intended for the prospects in attendance.

The speech was as rousing as any that will be given this time next year during election season, but the audible reactions were not among the loudest handful of the night. The biggest cheer was when Calipari referenced his first Big Blue Madness State of the Union-type address two years ago as “the rebirth of college basketball.” It earned an applause of 105.3 decibels, the night’s 18th-loudest moment.

John Calipari's presidential-style address, complete with glass teleprompters, was polished and rousing, but its reactions fell short of player introductions. | Photo by Jeff Drummond

Mitchell, who earned a reputation after dancing the Dougie at last year’s event, got 103.0 decibels for his Jackson vignette set to “Billie Jean.” He later took to the microphone and, after telling the crowd that his team had a game in Rupp Arena this season against Duke, asked to hear “what it sounds like when we fill this building up.” The response was 106.4 decibels (No. 14).

The scrimmaging portions of the night saw a considerable drop in energy, and the decibel count shows that. Only one moment in the scrimmage registered over 100 decibels: a Terrence Jones dunk which he alley-ooped to himself off the backboard. It was 103.1 decibels.

To compare, both moments in which the public address announcer told fans to make noise for free t-shirts registered over 100 decibels (100.7 and 100.5).

If Calipari wants to maximize the fanfare at future events, the numbers suggest: Don’t waste your time scrimmaging; just bring in as many NBA players as you can find.


Below is a list of the 20 loudest moments at Big Blue Madness on Friday:

1. John Wall introduction: 110.1 decibels
2. Jodie Meeks introduction: 109.6
3. DeMarcus Cousins introduction: 109.5
4. Rajon Rondo introduction: 109.3
5. Tayshaun Prince introduction: 109.2
6. Darius Miller introduction: 108.9
7. Josh Harrellson introduction:108.8
8. DeAndre Liggins introduction: 107.8
9. Doron Lamb introduction: 107.5
10. Nazr Mohammed introduction: 107.4
11. Brandon Knight introduction: 107.1
12. John Calipari introduction 107.1
13. Terrence Jones introduction: 106.9
14. Matthew Mitchell: “Let’s hear what it sounds like when we fill this building up”: 106.4
15. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist introduction: 106.3
16. Anthony Davis introduction: 106.0
17. Women’s basketball player Amber Smith: “Make some noise”: 105.5
18. Calipari calls Big Blue Madness 2009 the “rebirth of college basketball”: 105.3
19. Calipari references UK being first to 2,000 wins: 105.1
20. 2011 Final Four banner is unfurled in Rupp Arena rafters: 104.5

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