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Ohio State remains a football-first school

Forward Jared Sullinger celebrates Sunday’s win over Syracuse that put Ohio State in the Final Four. But he knows football remains king in Columbus.

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Forward Jared Sullinger celebrates Sunday’s win over Syracuse that put Ohio State in the Final Four. But he knows football remains king in Columbus.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Spring football practice began Wednesday as Ohio State's basketball team prepared for its second Final Four in six seasons.

Perfect symmetry.

The basketball team usually plays in the shadow of goal posts at Ohio State. Currently, Buckeye websites count down the days until the football game against Michigan.

And it has been more evident over the past few months as the city is consumed by the hiring of former Florida football coach Urban Meyer.

All-America forward Jared Sullinger knows that even during March, most Ohio State fans would rather talk about touchdowns than 3-pointers.

"We're never going to beat coach Urban Meyer," he said. "He brought the most buzz to Columbus, Ohio, in a long time."

Even when the Buckeyes were on top of college basketball in the early 1960s — winning it all in 1960 and reaching the final in 1961 and 1962 — the basketball team took a back seat. Jerry Lucas, part of those teams, believes football has never loosened its grip on the campus.

"Maybe during our period we elevated it a little bit," he said. "But I think everybody knows the case is that football is predominant there."

"Obviously, there's a lot more interest at Duke in basketball. Football at Duke hasn't been very successful. I think it's the fact that historically Ohio State has been very successful in football. Basketball is kind of a Johnny-come-lately."

Could Ohio State be known just as much for basketball as football?

Said Sullinger: "I probably doubt that will happen."

Kentucky over Wizards? Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said the notion that Kentucky could beat an NBA team is "absurd." Former Maryland coach Gary Williams recently said he believes it could beat the Wizards — who have the second-fewest wins this season — if the game were played at Lexington's Rupp Arena.

The Wildcats, favored to win the title, have multiple players expected to be lottery picks. And forward Anthony Davis could be the No. 1 overall pick.

"It's absurd," Van Gundy said. "People will say, 'Oh, Kentucky's got four NBA players.' Yeah, well the other team's got 13."

Kansas loses assistants: Danny Manning, who led Kansas to the national title in 1988 and has been on the staff for nine seasons, will be hired as Tulsa coach, according to several media outlets. He would replace Doug Wojcik, who went 140-92 over seven seasons before being fired. Tulsa released a statement saying it "has not reached an agreement with any candidate." Meanwhile, Barry Hinson, the former coach at Missouri State who has been a Jayhawks assistant for the past four seasons, was hired at Southern Illinois. He replaces Chris Lowery, who went 145-116 in eight seasons before being fired.

Illinois: The school is nearing a deal to hire Ohio's John Groce as coach, the Chicago Tribune reported. Disagreements on the length of the contract and salaries for assistants have held up a deal, it reported.

Draft: The father of North Carolina freshman James Michael McAdoo said the forward will review his options but "has every intention of being a Tar Heel next year." … Mississippi State center Arnett Moultrie said he will skip his senior season and hire an agent, which prevents him from returning. The 6-foot-11 junior averaged 16.4 points and 10.5 rebounds in being named first-team All-SEC.

NIT: Minnesota, which beat Washington 68-67 in overtime late Tuesday, faces Stanford in the final tonight at New York's Madison Square Garden. Stanford beat Massachusetts 74-64.

Ohio State remains a football-first school 03/28/12 [Last modified: Thursday, March 29, 2012 1:21am]
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