Ohio State has moved student seating for men’s basketball games to create a more hostile environment for opponents. The team hopes the new setup will rival the atmosphere of the most difficult arenas for opponents in the Big Ten.
“Michigan State is very tough, and their student section is always very involved in the game,” senior center Dallas Lauderdale said. And “Purdue is always loud.”
Fellow senior Jon Diebler agreed that Michigan State was the toughest arena in the Big Ten but added another school to the list.
“Wisconsin is pretty tough to play at,” he said. “They love their sports and they just get extremely loud at games.”
OSU has a larger arena and student body than all three of those schools, but the size of the other student sections dwarf that of the Buckeyes.
The university allotted 1,400 tickets for students this season. Wisconsin, Purdue and Michigan State each distribute more than 2,000 tickets to students. Purdue leads the way with 5,000.
Despite the disparity in numbers, the seating locations are similar across the schools.
“We have a student area which goes from the corner by the visiting bench around behind the basket,” said George Ade, Purdue athletic ticket manager.
The 3,000 student seats in that area take up the first 18 rows.
The Boilermakers adopted that system six years ago after students expressed a desire to be consolidated near the court, Ade said.
Students at Michigan State sit all the way around the court in approximately the first 10 rows, said Casey Nagy, a student ticket-office employee at MSU.
Players agree that the location of students makes a difference.
Michigan State “students surround that inner part of the court, and it gets pretty crazy there,” Diebler said. “I think it can get them more involved in the game.”
Despite advantages of moving OSU students, the numbers might not add up in equal proportion to other Big Ten schools.
Students, traditionally the loudest fans, make up more than 20 percent of seating at Michigan State’s Breslin Center and more than 35 percent of seating at Purdue’s Mackey Arena.
OSU students will take up slightly more than 7 percent of seats at the Schottenstein Center this season.
Comparatively low percentages aside, players hope the change in seating makes it difficult to play the Buckeyes at home.
“Having the students behind the benches will make it a little more difficult on opposing teams,” Diebler said.