What you missed in Columbus for March 22

The Buckeyes are out, the Bobcats are still alive and OSU’s E.J. Liddell offers a glimpse into the online harassment sadly common to athletes

Andy Downing
Columbus Alive
Buckeyes forward E.J. Liddell

This year’s NCAA tournament has been as topsy-turvy as ever. 

As you might have heard, No. 15 Oral Roberts knocked off second-seeded Ohio State in the first round. (Oral Roberts went on to defeat Florida in the second round, extending its unlikely Cinderella run). 

The other school from Ohio — Ohio University (or is that the Ohio University now?) — fared much better, knocking off the 2019 champs from the University of Virginia in the opening round. The 13th-ranked Bobcats are now set to square off against No. 5 Creighton today (Monday, March 22) at 6:10 p.m. The game will be broadcast on TNT.

Following Ohio State’s Friday loss, some “fans” directed their ire at E.J. Liddell, sending the Buckeye player threatening messages via social media. One fan wrote that he intended to find and harm Liddell, while another wrote, “We hate you. I hope you die I really do." 

Liddell shared these messages on Twitter, writing, “Honestly, what did I do to deserve this? I’m human.” Ohio State has since reached out to police, and on Saturday Buckeyes coach Chris Holtmann released a statement in support of Liddell.

"These comments, while not from or representative of Ohio State fans, are vile, dangerous and reflect the worst of humanity," Holtmann wrote. "EJ is an outstanding young man who had a tremendous sophomore season and he was instrumental in our team's success. We will take the necessary actions here at the University to address this immediately."

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On that note, the Columbus Dispatch just introduced a new reader comment system (comments have been disabled both on the Dispatch and associated sites such as columbusalive.com for months while this new system was in development). 

Read more here on how to comment, along with associated guidelines that we assume will prevent the types exchanges that were directed at Liddell over the weekend.

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Following a weeks-long stretch where COVID-19 was on the decline in Ohio, the number of cases has since plateaued, the Dispatch reported. Part of this could be traced to an increase in the number of B.1.1.7 variant cases, which have shot up 300 percent in just two weeks.

With vaccines opening up to all Ohio adults by March 29, it feels like there’s finally a legitimate light at the end of the tunnel. But in the days and weeks ahead continue to wear a mask and socially distance to help prevent an avoidable last-minute spike. We’re getting there, folks.