Ohio State has nationally been recognized as a football school for quite some time, but the student body at OSU has proven this year that they can be passionate about Buckeye basketball as well. Starting 3 or 4 days before every big Ohio State basketball game, tents can be found lined up along the outside walls of the basketball arena, the Schottenstein Center. For students who have already purchased the season-ticket package (which sold out at the beginning of the year in 4 minutes), placement of individual seats are given out on a first-come, first-serve basis. In other words, the earliest students to arrive at the arena are given the best seats in the student section at that specific game. With the likes of Kansas, Michigan, Indiana, and Michigan State all playing highly anticipated games against the Buckeyes this year (all four opponents have been ranked in the Top 5), it has been a fairly common occurrence to see 15-30 tents alongside the arena in the days leading up to these games. The lineup of tents along the arena has become known as “Mattaritavile,” a clever nickname that mixes the last name of OSU Men’s Basketball coach, Thad Matta, and Jimmy Buffet’s hit song, “Margarittaville.”
My brother is a sophomore at Ohio State and camped out at Mattaritaville for the Ohio State vs. Michigan basketball game in January. He and his friends began camping out on Friday night, earning them front row tickets for the game on Sunday. The Schottenstein Center was electric on that Sunday as Ohio State erupted for a huge early lead and held on for a 56-53 victory against #2 ranked Michigan.
Given the excitement of watching such a thrilling game from the front row, my brother urged me to join him as he and his friends camped out for the next big game. The next highly anticipated game was against #1 ranked Indiana University in February, and my brother was able to convince me to join him in his tent beginning the Thursday before the Sunday showdown. I may have had to get up for Professor Zach’s Professional Research in Accounting class at 8:30 AM the next morning, but that wasn’t stopping me from getting prime tickets to the big game.
Luckily, my brother did all the dirty work in setting up the tent. On the rainy Thursday night, I spent the night in the cold (and eventually wet) tent and woke up just in time to walk over to Gerlach Hall for class. While I was in class, my brother and his girlfriend even got to speak to a reporter about Mattaritaville and were on the news later that evening (see video here). My brother and his friends manned the tent for all of Friday and Saturday, receiving free pizzas delivered by members of the basketball team, including Aaron Craft and Deshaun Thomas. I stayed in the tent on Saturday night and on Sunday morning, Buckeye football assistant coach and former Super Bowl champion Mike Vrabel dropped off 50 boxes of a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts for all the students.
When we were finally let into the arena two hours before the game, we were ecstatic to be rewarded with front row seats. Unfortunately, the Buckeyes ran into a buzz saw as top-ranked IU played a great game, soundly beating the Buckeyes 81-68. Although the Buckeyes lost, I am proud to say that I got to experience Mattaritaville and be a part of this growing tradition during my time as a student at Ohio State.