The History of College Basketball Happened Here

The Palestra

223 South 33rd St., Philadelphia

The Palestra
The Palestra

The Palestra, located on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, opened its doors for the first time on Jan. 1, 1927. Penn beat Yale 26-15 in that first game. A crowd of 10,000 filled the arena to capacity and at the time was the largest attendance ever for a college basketball game.

1886 Penn basketball team
Penn basketball dates back to 1886. This squad dropped a 6-4 nail biter to Temple.
Visiting players at the Palestra
Patrick Ewing and Chris Mullin played in the Palestra with visiting teams. Today they each coach their respective alma maters, Georgetown and St. John’s.
Wilt Chamberlain
Wilt Chamberlain played here too. With Overbrook High School.

The Palestra is the home of Penn’s men’s and women’s basketball teams. It also hosts many games of Philadelphia’s Big Five: Temple, Villanova, Penn, LaSalle and St. Joseph’s. The arena has hosted more college basketball games and more NCAA tournament games than any other facility. Fifty-two NCAA tournament games have been played here beginning in 1939. It also hosted the first ever Ivy League championship tournament in 2017.

Big Five
Big Five

Penn and Princeton have played each other 240 times beginning in 1903. Penn has won 126 of those games. Between the two they have won 26 Ivy League titles. Each team has been to the NCAA tournament 24 times. That’s more than schools like Wisconsin, Virginia and Florida. Each has made it to a Final Four. This year Princeton won both games, including a 62-53 victory at the Palestra when these photos were taken.

Penn vs. Princeton at the Palestra
Penn vs. Princeton
Princeton pep band
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8 Responses to The History of College Basketball Happened Here

  1. I didn’t know that Ewing and Mullin are coaching their college teams. That’s loyalty! And it’s appropriate.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Henry Lewis says:

    Memories—I was a radical college basketball fan growing up in North Carolina near Wake Forest, Chapel Hill (UNC), Duke and NC State. But the Big 5 were always the toughest competition. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. pjlazos says:

    I saw the “English Beat” there eons ago and the sound was ghastly, but the band was awesome. Not a great concert venue.


  4. I’m so out of the loop when it comes to sports. However, I do enjoy reading about sports and have recently been critiquing a memoir where sports play a huge role in the author’s coming-of-age tale. I suppose as with most things in life, a good story is always what draws me in when I can’t relate to the topic matter personally. I ran track because its rules were the easiest to follow 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. bballscholar says:

    Good stuff I learn something new also if you into the NBA I follow it. Show love if your interested.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Good stuff man. Think about 10,000 people back then though. That must’ve been insane!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. brianlazanik says:

    Great post. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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