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Buckeye basketball heating up the winter

It’s nearing the dead of winter, when a white landscape and gray horizon seem permanent, the thermometer mercury hovers around single digits and Throwin’ Heat turns chilly.

Baseball is well into hibernation, the hopeless Browns and hapless Bengals are watching the NFL elite cap another year and the NBA campaign is in the thick of its regular season, hardly exciting knowing that a two-month playoff period is still to follow come April.

That’s probably part of what makes March Madness so exciting — it’s the first time in a couple of months that sports nuts can come out of their shells.

That doesn’t have to be the case this year.

You wouldn’t know it by the incessant buzz surrounding pigskin-obsessed Columbus, but Ohio State does sport a No. 1 team in the nation, a ranking that should last longer than the one week the football Buckeyes held the top spot in mid-October.

Thad Matta’s basketball bunch is 18-0 despite losing the National Player of the Year, Evan Turner, to the NBA last April.

Still, most of Buckeye Nation remains fixated on the Suspended Six or incoming freshman phenom Braxton Miller or bogus rumors about coach Jim Tressel retiring.

There’s nothing wrong with being a football school. The history and tradition behind Buckeye football surpasses that of just about any other university.

But there’s a point at which it’s OK for another sport to take precedent. Holding the nation’s No. 1 ranking should trigger that temporary switch.

Jared Sullinger has won Big Ten Freshman Player of the Week eight times in 10 weeks. But no one in Columbus knows.

Fellow freshman teammates Aaron Craft and Deshaun Thomas won the award the other two weeks. But no one in Columbus cares.

But did you hear that linebacker Ross Homan is playing in the Senior Bowl? Or that the football team is searching for a new receivers coach?

If Buckeye basketball can maintain its course, it’ll make for a much more tolerable winter.

Don’t worry, though: Even if the Buckeyes win the National Championship, they’ll be done in time for the football Spring Game.

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