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Thad Matta’s Tent Town pitched for Duke, Ohio State game

Chelsea Castle / Managing editor for content

The No. 2-ranked Ohio State men’s basketball team is set to take on No. 3-ranked Duke Tuesday night, and some students are already camping out to make sure they get a front row seat.

As of Monday night, there were five tents pitched outside the Schottenstein Center to save their spots in line for the 9:30 p.m. matchup.

The campers call their community “Thad’s Tent Town” after head basketball coach Thad Matta and some of its residents have been camping out since Sunday night.

Taylor Cooper, a second-year in business marketing, is in the tent that’s first in line and said he’s been camping out since 5 p.m. Sunday.

“We’re just trying to make a statement that we’re turning into a basketball school, just like anybody else, like Duke,” Cooper said.

This isn’t the first time students have camped out for a basketball game, but Chris Nance, event services manager at the Schottenstein Center, said it’s definitely the earliest he can remember.

“I started as a student here back in 2005 and (last year’s) Wisconsin game was the earliest before this,” Nance said. “We had people the night before for the Wisconsin game, but I think having them Sunday night is pretty sweet.”

The weather hasn’t been cooperating for the dedicated fans. Rain has been coming down at a fairly steady rate, but the campers are making the most of their experience. They’ve insulated their tents from the rain and even have a series of extension cords to give them power.

“It’s not that bad,” said Kaleigh Patrick, a fifth-year in financial planning. “The tent’s waterproof. We got a tarp in it so the water doesn’t come in too much.”

But Patrick has done more than brave the elements, she is also battling her own health. Patrick said she has the stomach flu, but heard people were waiting in line so hustled over to grab her spot in line.

“I’ve been in my sleeping bag, with two blankets on me like huddled up trying to take some naps,” she said. “I’m trying to do some homework, but I can’t really do it.”

Their spirits haven’t gone unnoticed. Employees of the Schottenstein Center have been doing their best to support the campers and have been bringing them food and drinks whenever they can. They were fed Buckeye Donuts on Sunday night and pizza for lunch on Monday.

“I didn’t expect it,” Cooper said of being fed. “I was about to go get Donatos when they brought Donatos out. It was a pretty nice little treat.”

The rule within “Thad’s Tent Town” is that, in order to keep its spot in line, a tent must have at least one person inside it at all times.

Some people have neglected going to class at all to keep their spot, but other groups have a rotation that allows them to attend class while still preserving their sacred space.

Jeremy Dean, a fifth-year in sports management and first-year grad student, has five people staying in his tent and said going to class hasn’t been a problem.

“There’s three other people at class right now,” Dean said. “We’re coming and going.”

Matta and the other coaches haven’t formally visited the members of his “Tent Town” yet, but apparently they know the fans are there.

“They’re poking their heads out” Nance said. “The buzz is going around the Schott already. People are excited about it.”

Jami Jurich contributed to this story.

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