For my first ever “article,” I volunteered to write about all fourteen of the basketball student sections in the B1G. Not knowing anything about any non-Wisconsin sections, I solicited information from OTE’s other “writers” and conducted some small-town-history-museum-pamphlet-level research about the other thirteen sections. Also, I’m aware a lot of the student section names are actually a student booster group or a spirit committee thingy or only describe a portion of the student section.
Today we’re looking at which of the B1G basketball student sections are the “best,” and we’ll get to the others tomorrow. And if you have to ask which category yours fits in...
The Grateful Red
Capacity: 2,100 students (12% of the Kohl Center’s capacity)
MCClappyHandz: “Pretty much paralleled everything that was done at football games.”
The Grateful Red, named, as Wikipedia helpfully explained, after “the rock group” and 50% of Wisconsin’s colors, debuted my freshman year--2002. The students sit behind one of the baskets, let’s say the left basket, and extend up to the third deck of the Kohl Center. The band sits in the middle of the first 15 or so rows, and the section is surprisingly small in both number of students and percentage of the total crowd. Always good to squeeze more olds into the arena, paying full price for their tickets and not injuring your eardrums with things like clapping and cheering, I suppose.
The 2002-2003 season was the second of Bo Ryan’s career as Wisconsin’s head coach, and the dude had already won ¼ of a Big Ten title. His immediate success led to the first preseason sellout of the student section (according to my memory of what I heard over a PA while waiting in line for tickets 15 years ago). So why not name the student section something like “Bozone” or “Ryan’s Ragamuffin’s” or “(insert super clever flop joke here)”? Because Bo didn’t want his name incorporated into the name of the student section because of course he didn’t. Thus, things happened, decisions were made, and the Wisconsin student section reached its current form, bedecked in eye-rolling tie-dyed t-shirts.
The Grateful Red and its predecessors (including the awesomely named Mr. Bennett’s Neighborhood) don’t really have “traditions” or “cool things that happen during every game,” but it gets and stays very loud (except this year I assume). For a lot of years, the team introductions were pretty cool, with Wisconsin Player introduced to wild cheering that mimicked the power play cheer from the hockey student section, followed by Other Player introduced to that still-not-sure-why-it’s-insulting gator chomp clap, repeat etc…
The students also like to taunt opposing players who’ve fouled out by loudly declaring which foot the opposing player is walking with, a thing I’m pretty sure every student section does but I also was pretty sure Wisconsin was the only one who did it for a lot of years. Other than that? It’s a loud, red student section with incredibly high levels of home success as a fanbase that also gets mad at old people who won’t stand, yells at players on other teams obviously “faking” injury, and allegedly spits on Jared Sullinger .
Michigan State Spartans
Capacity: 4,000ish (27%! of the Breslin Center)
The Izzone is the Tom Izzo of B1G basketball student sections—better than your section and always complaining about the refs. Ranked best student section in the B1G according to this article I found. The students eat up over a quarter of the seats in the Breslin Center, with an enormous number of seats surrounding the court in the lower bowl. I mean, come on, this is bonkers:
The cool shit doesn’t stop with getting ALL the best seats. Something called “Wayulllh,” (I swear this is how AK spelled it) a campout by Izzone members, happens every year and involves hanging out with Izzo and whatever collection of players Izzo is going to use to sandbag the first 1⁄3 of the season, get a low NCAA seed, and make a run to the Elite Eight. We camped out at Wisconsin when I was there, but it only involved being freezing and miserable.
Andrew K. gives us his favorite on-court student section memory:
The pregame intro was always my favorite aspect of the Izzone, which circles the entire lower bowl. Mockup newspapers with the headline BEAT [opponent] are distributed to everyone, and the students hold them up in the manner of reading them while the other team is introduced before reverting to the arms-interlocked, swaying ‘OHHHHHHH’ for MSU’s own players.
AK also wants you to remember Drew Neitzel brushing his teeth left handed.
Before I post the last bit about MSU and the Izzone, let’s throw in a random hate rant about MSU and its uniformly awful, low-basketball-IQ-having clown fans. Cool, you guys cheer loud and all say oooooooooooooo at the same time and do some gimmicky stuff like a wannabe Duke student section. That’s fine, whatever. You still lost to MTSU and you still have to cheer for a team whose players routinely slap the floor on defense.
Per noted Michigan State superfan Graham Filler, the Izzone also very recently did this:
Good on you, Izzone.
The Crimson Guard
Capacity: 7,800 - Biggest in the country, including Alaska and Hawaii! (45%!!! of Ass. Hall)
It’s a huge student section (the red is students), but as you can see, the students aren’t all in a single, contiguous group (like Alaska/Hawaii and the other 48!). Bonus points for a history of getting to see really great basketball, minus points for having to suffer through Crean, more minus points for your stadium falling apart.
Your Indiana guru, CandystripesforBreakfast, did an A++ job responding to the three actual questions I posed to all the writers, providing three actual answers:
1. What’s the relationship between the student section and the old people like?
For the most part, it was a fairly cordial relationship, although it’s likely we had to break out the “Stand up, old people” chant once in a while. The main adversarial point between us and them is that we would like a completely unified section, which would probably force a bunch of their tickets into the balcony. There’s not a ton of sympathy on that front for two major reasons: one, until Crean came to IU (the 2008-09 season, for those who’ve forgotten), the student “section” was actually just scattered seats throughout the entire Hall, so even getting to where they currently are was a bit of a push, and two, particularly in the last couple of years, the students have been a little underwhelming in attendance for non-conference games against smaller schools, and it shows.
Anyone attend IU games as a student before it was “unified”? That seems really odd.
2. What are the best traditions for your school’s student section?
The most important in-game tradition that doesn’t involve candystripe pants is the second half under 8 timeout, AKA The Greatest Timeout in College Basketball.
. . .
IU fans, particularly those in the under 40 set, will likely recognize this tradition by a different name: FLAGS. Long story short, the band plays the William Tell Overture as the cheerleaders race an IU flag around the floor. There’s a whole choreographed production that occurs, and ends in everyone singing the fight song while flags spelling out Indiana Hoosiers run around the center circle. It’s far more impressive to watch than I’m making it sound, but trust me, it’s absolutely at its best when experienced in person.
Far more impressive to watch? Let’s watch!
Are those random people carrying some of the letters?
So, depending on who you ask, you’ll probably either get the pregame “get hyped up” video where the loudest cheer is almost always reserved for Bobby Knight (and yes, this was even after they put Christian Watford’s buzzer beater against Kentucky in WHILE HE WAS STILL ON CAMPUS), or the end of halftime showing of ‘This is Indiana’
3. What’s gonna happen if you’re a student from (insert biggest rival here) and you sit in the IU student section?
you will probably receive at least one “Asshole” chant after you overly celebrate your team making a big play, you might or might not get someone drunkenly screaming in your face when your team is not doing well, and should you accept all of that with grace, you’ll probably get some actually decent conversation with people on the way out. We’re very protective of our territory, but don’t be an asshole to us, and you’ll get more out of the experience. Thankfully, most of the “enemy” incursions into our section were reasonable folk, so nothing major happened. I have, however, heard stories of particularly belligerent fans getting decked when they refused to shut their mouth.
Thanks Candy! As a reward for writing the IU section for me, here’s that Watford buzzer beater:
Also the students boo a lot.
Illinois Fighting Illini
Capacity: OK “membership” is 1,500 (10% of Toad’s Hat), but I’m gonna guess 5,000 total students? (32%)
The Orange Krush actual “members” get some really great seats, taking up 3/4 of the lower bowl. Dick Vitale loves them. They take a lot of road trips and do some other things, but this was the fourteenth student section I wrote about, so I’m going to let Thumpasaurs stream-of-consciousness at you. Honestly, he’ll be way more entertaining anyway.
was known as Orange Crush until a cease and desist from dr. pepper in the early 90’s forced a minor spelling revision
so @Beez what orange krush is most known for is invading road games
there’s an annual road trip where they get blocks of tickets, often under false pretenses, go to the game dressed as fans of the home team, and then reveal (around tip off or the first points) that in fact there’s a whole section of em dressed in orange
a few years ago they did the road trip to northwestern and took over their tricycle race
in 2005, orange krush posed as a youth group from chicago. they got a group picture taken with coach tommy amaker.
i was never in orange krush but i was in basketball band
thus i have to bring up the fact that basketball halftimes also contain the music from the 90+ year old football halftime show
the incomparable THREE IN ONE
At this point, Aaron Yorke chimed in with a sad story of PSU fan embarrassment involving the Orange Krush, detailed in Part I of this unbelievable two-part series.
“What can I expect if I’m a student from (insert top rival) and I sit in your student section?”
@Beez you can expect not to be in our student section, as President Trump weeps at the extremeness of our vetting.
inb4 NO POLITICS
In the Groce era, we did Orange Hush for one game a year, where the crowd was totally silent until Illinois got to 10 points and then they cheered as loud as possible. It’s apparently a thing they used to do at Groce’s alma mater, Taylor University. Krush found that out and brought it to Champaign.
I can confirm that orange krush is still difficult to get into and requires some camping even though we haven’t danced since 2013.
Thanks Thump! You’re a hero
The Paint Crew
Capacity: 2,800 (20% of Mackey)
Boilerman31: “They’re well organized and loud. Both good things when you’re looking for home court advantage.” Bman31 is right about that, and from what I hear on broadcasts of Purdue home games, the Paint Crew is crazy loud. Also they boo a lot, like a lot a lot. Purdue students get to have their views obstructed by baskets on both ends of the courts, breaking from the previous practice of giving the students actually really good seats behind the opposing team’s bench. I can’t imagine what it felt like for visiting players prior to the change, but it must have been...frustrating.
Beyond being good, loud, and sitting behind both baskets, The Paint Crew does what sounds like really awesome stuff. A pizza-basketball party with the team before and after the season? Yes please. Also if you buy something called a Boarding Pass and join The Paint Crew (note: it’s not free), you are guaranteed seasons tickets for the basketball season, which is probably a huge benefit at a basketball-crazy school like Purdue. Finally, The Paint Crew’s website makes multiple references to The Lottery, capitalized just like that every time, meaning I assume it is a powerful and mysterious device, whose mystery is only exceeded by its power.
As stated above, TPC is a well-organized student section. Pregame pump-up includes a call and response of “Whose House”/”Our House” shouted back and forth between the sections. The other noteworthy TPC tradition--Hail Fire-- is what Boilerman31 describes as “uber petty.” Sometime during the second half, the Purdue band plays a song, all of the students do a choreographed dance, and at the end of the dance they all yell “IU SUCKS!” Bman31 claims it “speaks to the rivalry,” and I kind of love the pettiness, but you all need to feel your feelings about it for yourselves.
Capacity: 6,600?!?!? (37%! of Coach K’s Scared of Us Arena)
Edit: Apparently it’s only 4,000 seats (22%); thanks Maryland commentors!
HonestIy, I debated whether to include Maryland in this list. I was all ready to make fun of our Maryland basketball sorta-conference mates, but holy shit is Maryland’s student section gigantic. Second only to Indiana in the B1G in both size and percentage of seats in the arena, the students get the first 10 rows all around the court and The Wall takes up 2,600 seats that steeply climb the sections (kop-style!) behind the visiting team’s second-half basket. Must be critical to Maryland’s best-in-the-B1G at visiting opponent’s free throw percentage. Totally boss.
In addition to pretty good seats for a ton of students, Maryland has some legit traditions. At the start of the game, the students sing an a capella version of the “Hey!” song, with the obligatory college “You suck!” thrown in there. Why a cappella? Because the band stopped playing the
song, according to noted Maryland commentor terp_derp, after “Gary Glitter was convicted of sex felonies.” Here’s the pre-felony version, a video of which I’m really only posting because the of ESPN ticker at the 1:01 mark:
And here’s what it looks like now (just the first forty seconds):
Other traditions: copying MSU’s newspaper reading thing during introductions (scroll up), midnight madness, and the “unfurling of the flag.” Bonus points for good music, whatever the opposite of bonus points are for that damn flag.
Finally, the usually-annual flash mob, when students show up a few hours before game time to practice. I think it’s really awesome, but then I’ve seen way too much of the first two seasons of Glee:
Finally, a list of great things about the student section, with one great thing for each of Maryland’s average yearly NCAA Tournament wins under Turdgeon:
- Maryland students get to root for their team at the Xfinity Center, recently unanimously selected as an “honorable metion” basketball arena in the B1G, as chosen by
Also the students once threw batteries at a Duke players’ mom.
Minnesota Golden Gophers
Capacity: 2,200 (15% of Dangerous Playing Surface Gym)
Everybody knows about the barnyard, right? Racous college kids dressed up like animals? Fun stuff. It’s like the Iowa State student section, but with students and not random animals wandering in.
What else do you really need to know?
Unfortunately my copy of Encarta stopped working, so this is all the information I’ve got about your student sections. Feel free to elaborate in the comment section, and definitely check back tomorrow for “B1G Basketball: These are also student sections.”
Who Ya Got?
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