Greatest Big Ten athlete bracket: Round four
March 30, 2016
After three rounds of voting, The Daily Illini sports staff sent four athletes through to the next round of our bracket to determine the Big Ten’s greatest athlete. We did a simultaneous fan vote on Twitter, and the staff and the fans disagreed in two places.
First was on the staff’s selection of former Michigan swimmer Michael Phelps over Ohio State golf legend Jack Nicklaus. Second was on the staff’s selection of Ohio State’s Olympian Jesse Owens over Illinois’ Red Grange.ch
Otherwise, our Twitter fan vote matched with our staff’s picks and as we head into the Final Four, don’t forget to use #DIBracket to weigh in on Twitter.
Here are the matchups in the Final Four:
Michael Phelps (Michigan-Swimming) vs. Magic Johnson (Michigan State-Basketball)
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 eight gold medals in one Olympic Games.ch
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 five NBA titles and won himself three Finals MVPs, three NBA MVPs, and earned 12 All-Star appearances and an Olympic gold medal with the “Dream Team” in 1992.
Jesse Owens (Ohio State-Track & Field) vs. Tatyana McFadden (Illinois-Wheelchair Racing)
Owens’ legacy began at the Ohio State University where in one day at a track meet, he set world records in four 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 four gold medals as Hitler watched.
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 three 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).
Compiled by Orri Benatar