By Matt McCoy
Twitter photo of Mattaritaville campers enjoying Buckeye Donuts purchased by Hawaii AD and former OSU administrator Ben Jay
The Ohio State/Michigan rivalry was built on football but that doesn't mean the passion disappears when the two teams get together in basketball.
The No. 22 Buckeyes host No. 15 Michigan Tuesday night and despite bitter cold temperatures, students in about a dozen tents spent the night in "Mattaritaville," the sidewalk outside the student entrance to the Schottenstein Center. The group wants first choice of student seats for the Buckeye showdown with the Wolverines.
"The fans get excited about (the Michigan game)," Buckeye guard Aaron Craft said. "It's always great to feed off your own fans energy. There are some people camping outside in this weather...that makes you play a little harder. You don't want to disappoint all those fans that come out."
Mattaritaville has become a new tradition in recent Buckeye basketball seasons, thanks to the success Thad Matta has had with the Ohio State program. It has not gone unnoticed by Matta, the basketball staff and even former Ohio State staffers.
With the Mattaritaville crew using social media to update followers on their frigid night, Hawaii director of Athletics Ben Jay, took notice, making a long distance order of Buckeye Donuts. Jay is familar with those crazy Ohio State college kids. The OSU graduate worked in the Ohio State athletic department for six years before landing the AD job with the Rainbows. When the donuts were sent Monday night, he gave a shoutout on Twitter:
"@Mattaritaville, Enjoy @buckeye_donuts. Sorry I couldn't get you more but I love your commitment in 13 deg weather. #BestStudentFansInTheLand"
You could say the donuts served as desert for the students, as Ohio State assistant basketball coach Jeff Boals, earlier Monday night, took to Twitter to let the dedicated and frozen Buckeye hoops fans that pizza was on the way.
"@Mattaritaville, @PizzaRusticaOSU will be there in @ 45 minutes! Appreciate you guys!!"
Twitter photo from Mattaritaville students as pizza ordered by Buckeye assistant Jeff Boals arrived.
Hopefully the students survived the chilly, subzero night but it's not like they'll warm up much Tuesday. The high will only be 16 degrees. While a camp out in that kind of weather may not be the smartest move in the world, you have to love the passion...and you have to credit Thad Matta. This would have never happened on a 60 degree night a decade ago but Matta has built the program to the point where Mattaritaville overnights, even in the bitter cold, are the rule and not the exception.
Aaron Craft's Taco Tuesday
Aaron Craft shows off the Taco Tuesday shirts being sold at the Michigan game
Aaron Craft doesn't do social media, but his roomates do. Logan Jones, Greg Greve, Jake Johnson and Michael Duffy's twitter account @CRAFTroomies has more than 25,000 followers. The Buckeye point guard and his buddies decided to use that popularity in a good way and Tuesday night's game versus Michigan will be the payoff.
Craft and his roomies have organized "Taco Tuesday" to benefit the LiFE Sports Program at Ohio State. It all started with Craft's love of Tacos.
"We were trying to think of what shenanigans that we are probably most known for and it's definately the tacos," Craft said.
Earlier this year, Ohio State Student Life organized a "Taco Night" on campus with Craft and his roomies serving as guests of honor. The event drew more than 1,000 Ohio State students.
At the Michigan game, tacos will be sold (3 for $5) along with "Taco Tuesday" T-shirts ($20) with all the proceeds going to LiFE Sports.
"It's an organization that helps underprivileged kids to come particiapte in athletic camps on campus," Craft said. "(They can) hang out and do things that they wouldn't normally be able to do."
A taco stand and the T-shirts will be available in the southwest corner of the arena near the student entrance. Shirts will also be sold in the Ohio State Team Shop at Value City Arena.
"I've always said to our players, 'take the opportunity you have here to make the most, not only for yourself but for the people around you,'" Coach Thad Matta said. "I think that Aaron is definately doing that...He's an amazing kid."
To hear Aaron Craft talk about "Taco Tuesday" click here:
As the Buckeyes prepare for the "Taco Tuesday" game against Michigan, WTVN's Bucksline Monday night covered gamut. From the Buckeye wins over Iowa and Purdue, to Lenzelle Smith Jr., to Aaron Craft's fundraiser, to Shannon Scott's play off the bench, to the Marcus Smart suspension at Oklahoma State, WTVN basketball analyst Tony White and I covered it all.
A big thanks to all of the calls, tweets and e-mails...We love your involvement. If you missed Bucksline, check out the podcast by clicking here.