It’s official, with a 50-43 win over the Wisconsin Badgers in the Big Ten title game, the Ohio State University has now become the Evil Empire of the Big Ten Tourney. I’ve been covering the Big Ten Tournament for four years, and Ohio State has been in the tourney final game each time. Actually, they’ve gone to 5 straight title games and 8 overall. The tournament has only been in existence since 1998. Ohio State head coach That Matta has the Big Ten Tournament’s highest winning percentage and second most wins behind Tom Izzo of Michigan State.
In other words, they’re the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Lakers, Notre Dame, Duke Blue Devils of the BTT. They’ve become the “anyone but them” team for fans of other Big Ten teams. Which is a huge compliment. You have to be very successful to be hated. You have to be highly relevant in order to generate a backlash.
Ohio State won it all in 2010 on the strength of national player of the year Evan Turner. He was a polarizing figure, but also gave us some memorable moments in that tourney when he nailed a buzzer beater to eliminate the Wolverines, and then complained to the media about the Illini trash talking him.
In 2011, most Big Ten partisans became Penn State and Talor Battle fans, because that’s who OSU’s victim was in the Big Ten title game. And how can you not have a man-crush on Talor Battle. Jared Sullinger was the villain that season, mostly because he got a few calls his way every now and then.
Aaron Craft, the 2013 Big Ten Tournament MVP, is the new Ohio State Buckeyes most polarizing player. Big Ten fans don’t like him too much. If THE Ohio State University goes far in the NCAA tourney, he’ll be as disliked as some Duke Blue Devils players. Craft doesn’t stuff the stat sheet or anything, but he’s such a pesky defender, and he’s better than he looks like he should be. And also he’s reminiscent of a Dukie. Maybe because he’s highly intelligent (high school valedictorian) and a decent interview sometimes.
Craft was choosen in Grantland’s most hated college basketball players bracket, but didn’t advance past the first round. The Duke Blue Devils are so hated they have their own region. But I think UNC’s Tyler Hansbrough will (deservedly) win it all.
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, a Google News site generating millions of visitors. He’s an author who also contributes regularly to MSN, Fox Sports , Chicago Now, Walter Football.com and Yardbarker