Just before midnight on the same day the Arizona Wildcats lost in the 2011 Elite Eight, police escorts kept busy as about 2,000 giddy fans showed up at McKale Center to welcome them home.

Maybe that wasn’t a surprise considering that, after their 1997 NCAA title, the Wildcats prompted more than 45,000 folks to party inside Arizona Stadium.

But those frenzied moments weren’t what prompted Emory University professors to say Arizona had the second-best fan base in college basketball last week, behind only Louisville and ahead of other basketball blue-bloods such as Kansas and Kentucky.

Rather, it was the fact that Arizona still filled McKale Center to 95 percent of capacity in 2009-10, when the instability-damaged Wildcats lost 15 games and failed to reach the postseason for the first time since 1984.

Read more about the study in Sunday's Arizona Daily Star.