Big Ten greatest athlete bracket: Round three

After two rounds of voting, The Daily Illini sports staff sent eight athletes to through to the next round of our bracket to determine who is the Big Ten’s greatest athlete. 

As we head into the third round, don’t forget to use #DIBracket to weigh in on Twitter.

Here are the matchups in round three.

Michael Phelps (Michigan-Swimming) v. Jack Nicklaus (Ohio State-Golf)

Despite being in Ann Arbor for a short stint, Michael Phelps has become the most decorated Olympian of all-time. In the pool, Phelps has won 22 Olympic medals with 18 of them being gold. He also is the only Olympian to win 8 gold medals in one Olympic Games.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

A born and bred Ohio native, Jack Nicklaus captured 2 U.S. Amateur titles and an NCAA championship while in Columbus. The Golden Bear then went on to win 18 major PGA titles, a record.

Magic Johnson (Michigan State-Basketball) v. Isiah Thomas (Indiana-Basketball)

Earvin “Magic” Johnson became a superstar after defeating Larry Bird’s Indiana State in 1979 to win Michigan State it’s first basketball title. Magic then went on to have one of the greatest careers in NBA history as he led the Lakers to 5 NBA titles and won himself 3 Finals MVPs, 3 NBA MVPs, and earned 12 All-Star appearances and an Olympic gold medal with the “Dream Team” in 1992.

Isiah became a legend in Bloomington as he helped the Hoosiers win an NCAA title in 1981 in his sophomore season. Isiah entered the draft after that and was picked by the struggling Pistons. Thomas lead the “Bad Boys” to two NBA titles and Thomas earned a Finals MVP and 12 All-Star appearances. He was named as one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history.

Jesse Owens (Ohio State-Track & Field) v. Red Grange (Illinois-Football)

Owens’ legacy began at the Ohio State University where in one day at a track meet, he set world records in 4 separate Track & Field events in the span of 45 minutes. A year later, Owens represented the United States in Nazi Germany at the Berlin Olympics and won 4 gold medals as Hitler watching with disapproving eyes.

Almost one hundred years after he became the first professional football star, Red Grange’s legacy still lingers across Champaign-Urbana. The Galloping Ghost had many iconic moments at Illinois, including a six touchdown performance in the opening of Memorial Stadium and saw the first big contract in NFL history.

Tom Brady (Michigan-Football) v. Tatyana McFadden (Illinois-Wheelchair Racing)

After sitting his first two years, Tom Brady led Michigan to 2 Big Ten titles and an Orange Bowl victory. After being selected 199th in the 2000 NFL Draft, Tom Brady has led the New England Patriots to 4 Super Bowl titles and 6 AFC titles. Brady holds the record for most Super Bowl starts by a quarterback and most postseason victories.

McFadden is the primary product for U of I’s prestigious wheelchair athletics. After racing and playing basketball with the Fighting Illini, McFadden has gone on to win 10 Paralympic medals including 3 Golds at London in the 400m, 800m, and 1500m races in the T-54 category. McFadden is also the only human (able-bodied or disabled) to win the big four marathons in the same calendar year (Boston, Chicago, London, and New York City).