Do Buckeye fans care about Ohio State basketball?


When your football program is as good, or should I say as dominant, as Ohio State’s is, it can understandably be hard to divert your fan base to focus on other sports. Recent attendance at Ohio State basketball games is showing that fans may still have a Buckeye football hangover and also a general disinterest in the sport when it’s compared to the storied football program.

This was more visible than ever for last weeks basketball game against Maryland. The Terrapins came in to the game ranked 16th in the country, the highest ranked team Ohio State has played at home all season. Maryland is in second place overall in the Big Ten, one spot ahead of Ohio State. Although Thad Matta and the Bucks were not favored in this game, it is unlike fans in Columbus to count their team out. This was a big game for the Buckeyes, and there was no excuse for fans to not be interested in going to the game.

The announced attendance for the game was 14,483. While that may seem like a pretty good crowd, let me put it in to perspective for you. More fans showed up to see Ohio State pummel Wright State earlier this season than they did a prime time game against a top-25 opponent.

What could possibly be causing this disconnect? As mentioned previously, the success of the football team winning a national championship obviously was, and arguably still is, at the forefront of the minds of Buckeye fans. As the college football playoff was going on, I’m guessing many fans chose to not pay much attention to basketball. For the fans that stayed committed to watching both sports, early season losses to Louisville and North Carolina may have shot down some dreams of a solid season. In both of those games, Ohio State failed to defeat a quality opponent.

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Ohio State students have also failed to sell out their reserved section during most games. As a former student with season tickets, I can understand the struggle of going to a game on a Thursday night. Not only are some classes still in session at the time of tip off, but many students will have assignments due or tests to take on Friday. The walk to the Schottenstein Center is also a long, cold trek for anyone coming from South campus. What I’m really trying to say is that girls who have tickets, but aren’t really interested in basketball, aren’t going to go to the game when it’s 20 degrees outside.

But these shouldn’t be excuses for fans not to come. The Buckeyes have one of the best freshman in the country in D’Angelo Russell. Russell is near the top of many NBA Draft boards due to the fact that he’s not only the best player at Ohio State, but also one of the best players in the country. The Buckeye team did lose some early season games, but are still very much in the hunt for a Big Ten title. Although they were not ranked going to the game against Maryland, Ohio State is now back in the top 25.

Some fans may have questioned the intelligence of coach Matta as he continued to start an unproductive Amir Williams, and failed to see that his zone defense was being ripped apart like wet toilet paper. Both of those issues have been resolved, however, as Williams now comes off of the bench and the team now uses a man-to-man defense.

For the rest of the Big Ten season and beyond, Ohio State basketball fans will have to create a hostile environment to give it’s team a competitive edge. A loud, rowdy Value City Arena can be an electric place and has the ability to rattle any opponent.

The local sports media has also caught notice of the attendance dip. Buckeye fans will know Beau Bishop from his work on both WBNS 10TV and 97.1 The Fan in Columbus. Beau was not impressed with the turn out last week.

This is a call to action Buckeye fans. Go to the games early, be loud, and have fun.

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