Squad! Cheering on the B1g 10

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By Regina Robinson,

They have spirit, yes the do. I’m ranking the Big 10’s sixth men: mascots, spirit squads and That Guy dancing in the aisle at every game. Going with the philosophy of the superstition theorists, it takes dedicated sixth men to send seven teams to an NCAA tournament.

10. Northwestern – If the Purple Haze nickname would’ve caught on in the 70s, what cool points the Wildcats could have racked up. But that’s not Northwestern style. So, Willie the Wildcat is perfect: He’s good enough to just be average. It’s where Northwestern usually falls in the rankings, making splashes throughout the season, but never making it over the postseason hump.

9. Ohio State – First things first. What the heck’s a Buckeye you ask? Can it really defeat a wolverine? Not if you go by the Buckeye’s national championship wins (Out of 26 sanctioned appearances in the NCAA tournament, Ohio State has only one title, won in the 60s.). And you would be nuts to think a buckeye could take down a wolverine. Literally, because a buckeye is a nut, one that comes from the state tree of Ohio. Wolverine takes buckeye.

8. Iowa – Herky the Hawkeye doesn’t do much in the way of costume changes for Hawkeye sports; he wears a helmet for football and different facial expressions for basketball and other Iowa sports. He is most likely starting the season off with a smiley face because senior guard Peter Jok withdrew his name from the NBA draft and will play his final season with Iowa. Jok averaged 16. 1 PPG and was second team All-Big 10 last year.

7. Minnesota – Goldy Gopher has been offering Midwestern charm and good cheer along Golden Gopher sidelines (and at thousands of appearances) for more than three decades. Goldy will need to put a warm and fuzzy – yet firm – hug/hold on top recruits from the area to convince them to stay in Minnesota and play basketball. So, ‘No Tyus Jones repeats please!’ is what Goldy would tell us if we could figure out who he/she is (Goldy’s human identity is kept in anonymity).

6Penn State – Before the Nittany  Lion (inspired by the mountain lions that were said to inhabit the landmark Mount Nittany) reigned as the mascot for Penn State, it was “Old Coaly” (unofficially) that led the charge. Coaly is still on campus, at least his skeleton is; on display (locations vary). Ew! And, hmmm. If that doesn’t inspire camaraderie, it’s certainly a great tactic to scare the heck out of opponents!

5. Indiana – Being a Hoosier is not about a mascot or fan, it’s a way of life. It’s a name that is worn well; not because it references a state bird, tree, landmark, or anything really. It’s just who they are. Who Thomas Bryant is, he’s a reason for Indiana to be in postseason conversation, according to legendary college basketball analyst Dick Vitale. The 6-10 sophomore center is on Vitale’s top five all-get-it-done list.

4. Michigan State – The Spartan is a strong warrior like the call-and-response of “Go Green!” “Go White!” in the Breslin Center, a refrain that’s bone-chillingly loud. With the assistance of head warrior Sparty, Coach Tom Izzo should thank the student section for his stupendous home-win record of more than 250 over 21 seasons).

3. Michigan- According to associate director – men’s basketball, Tom Wywrot (via email), the Wolverines don’t have a mascot. They’re sixth man is the ability to win, win, then win some more. It’s a tradition that has carried on from Johnny Orr  (1960s to 80s) to current coach John Beilein. (Also see No. 9, Ohio State)

2. Maryland – Maryland state pride resonates throughout the University of Maryland, from the diamond terrapin mascot, Testudo, to the school’s colors, taken from the state flag (Maryland is the only NCAA school with four school colors). What coach Mark Turgeon can be proud of is enough pieces to put together a pretty good puzzle to get the Terps to the postseason, including a stronger and improved Melo Trimble.

1. Maryland  – The Cornhuskers barely make it in the top rankings (No. 9 on 247Sports), but that doesn’t stop the fan base from rooting for the team as if every game is a Final Four. Nebraska’s corn nation is a community that embraces the good, bad and ugly of not only the basketball program, but all-things Big Red, all over the world.

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