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John Groce a top candidate for Illinois job

By Mike Rasor Published: March 25, 2012

Men's basketball

It's not Akron news, but the departure of John Groce could sway the balance of power in the MAC East.

This evening, CBS is reporting that Ohio University's coach is a top choice for Illinois, and Groce is interested.

Keith Dambrot, perhaps looking to a silver lining in the press conference following the MAC Championship, mentioned that Groce "is a young guy" and "will get another" job. Of course, this statement predated the Bobcats' march to the Sweet Sixteen and thrilling loss to North Carolina.

I was talking to some Bobcats friends of mine -- who, of course, now believe that Ohio is the best program ever to lace up in the MAC -- and I had to remind them of a key fact: The Bobcats weren't better than Akron over the MAC regular season, and they only won the tournament because of a rimmed-out 14-footer by Brian Walsh.

Here's what I won't dispute: Akron could not have done what Ohio did. It takes a special player like D.J. Cooper to pull off two (and nearly three) upsets on a big stage. The question for the offseason will be: Can Alex Abreu rise to that level?

But with Cooper back for his senior year (as well as every other OU player), the Bobcats will still be favored to repeat as MAC champs, irrespective of Groce's plans.

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