As we inch closer and closer to tipoff of the first Ohio State men’s basketball game on Nov. 9 against Akron, preparations are being made to ensure that it is the most exciting, fun, and successful season to date. These preparations go beyond the team itself, however. Another group that is closely involved with the program and the game day activities that accompany it is the Buckeye Nuthouse — Ohio State’s longtime basketball student section.
In years past, selling season tickets for basketball has proven to be a challenge. As a former Ohio State student and Nuthouse member myself, I can attest to that. Ohio State is no basketball superpower, and for a few years there (2014-2017-ish), the team just stunk. Now try asking a college student who spent $180 on football tickets to also spend $100+ on basketball tickets.
For the most hardcore of hoops fans, this is a no-brainer. But for those students only casually interested in college hoops, the price plus the team’s lackluster performance (previously) created a combination of circumstances that may be too difficult to overlook. Often, those students chose not to attend. Not anymore.
For the first time since 2012, the Buckeye Nuthouse sold out its full allotment of tickets (2400) within one hour of them going on sale. Is it because students couldn’t attend games last season, and they were chomping at the bit? Was it that the price for season tickets dropped to $99? Or was it that — combined with Duke being on the schedule — Ohio State has been pretty damn good the last few years?
It’s likely a combination of all of these reasons, but the Buckeye Nuthouse committee — a group of students who set up the section, promote ticket sales, and lead the Nuthouse during games — are also to thank for the rapid sellout this season. The committee spends the offseason and pre-season promoting ticket sales, and work closely with the basketball program to create an electric environment in the arena that ensures returning students buy tickets again the next year. Whatever they did this year seemed to work pretty well.
For a little background on the Nuthouse and to get her take on why demand spiked so high this season, I caught up with Maddie Markenson — the director of the Buckeye Nuthouse and a senior at Ohio State. She also told us which game she is looking forward to the most this season, what the Nuthouse needs from the rest of the fans during games, and what being involved with the Nuthouse has meant to her as she nears the end of her college career.
First off, congratulations on selling out the entire Nuthouse on the first day. That has not happened in quite some time. What do you think contributed to the high demand this season compared to previous years?
Maddie: I think it was a combination of things. The pandemic had a lot to do with it because everyone misses sports and is excited to get back to the way things used to be. No underclassmen have even experienced the Nuthouse yet. Having Duke as the ACC challenge game also turned a lot of heads, not to mention the fact that we have had a really strong team the past couple years. Despite the March Madness run, our guys were hanging out in the top 10 for a while (last season) and I think people are starting to take Ohio State basketball more seriously.
As the director of the Nuthouse, what message do you want to share with everyone else who goes to games? What do you need from the rest of the fans during games?
Maddie: I want everyone to come with energy and ready to engage. Basketball is different than football in the sense that we are five feet from the court and everything we do is seen. The court can hear us, we can hear them. In my opinion, student sections in college basketball are the most influential (of all sports). We truly have the power to set an electric atmosphere in the Schott. That being said, at the end of the day I want people to remember to have fun. We are a student section and we are here to watch basketball, have a great time, and go nuts.
Are there plans for any type of tip-off/interactive event for the students to talk with or interact with the team in a little more personal way before the season starts?
Maddie: Hopefully! I’m working with the athletic department to try and plan an open practice, and hopefully we can step it up and make it more exciting for students. Unfortunately things have been moving a little slower this year on that front due to COVID-19, but I am hopeful.
For an incoming freshman or a first-time Nuthouse ticket-holder, what should they know about attending Ohio State basketball games and sitting in the Nuthouse? Any words of wisdom or tips?
Maddie: Soak it all in. If there is anything we have learned over the past year, it’s that the things we love can be ripped away from us in the blink of an eye.
Which game are you personally looking forward to the most this season?
Maddie: Obviously Duke (Nov. 30) and Michigan (March 6), but I’m truly excited for March Madness. We have so much potential this year and I think the team will be looking for a redemption run.
Which game has been your favorite that you’ve attended so far?
Maddie: Maryland during the ‘19-’20 season! I don’t know what was in the air that day but the atmosphere was unparalleled.
A little more team-related with this one. We know about E.J. Liddell. Aside from E.J., which player do you think is going to have the biggest impact this season (If E.J. is out, who will become even MORE important)?
Maddie: This is such a difficult question because I think we truly have a very deep bench, and there are a number of people I can see stepping up. We just saw the beginning of Meechie [Johnson] last year, and I think he is going to catch a lot of people off guard. He seems to have made great progress in the off-season. As far as forwards and someone who could pick up slack in the post, I will go to my grave saying that Kyle Young is underrated and deserves more recognition. He isn’t the most flashy, but he is truly a team player and has no problem taking control of a game. He made the decision to stay, and I have a good feeling it’s because he plans to leave everything he has on the court.
This is your last year at Ohio State, and your last year in the Nuthouse. What has your involvement with Block O and the Nuthouse meant to you over these last few years?
Maddie: The Nuthouse means the world to me. Basketball has been my sport my entire life and I want it to always be a part of my life, even when I’m not playing. I remember when I interviewed and was given a position on committee my first semester freshman year. It was the most excited I had been about anything in a long time. My fellow student section leaders (in Block O) over the past few years have been incredible. Not only have I learned so much from the people before me, but I have created true friendships from Block O.
Questions for Maddie? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Connect with the Nuthouse: @BuckeyeNuthouse