Axios Columbus

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Today's newsletter is 895 words โ€” a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: โ›น๏ธ Return of the madness

Two basketball players fight for a rebound at Nationwide Arena.

North Carolina and Washington during a 2019 March Madness game at Nationwide Arena. Photo: Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Don't be surprised to see a wave of Memphis blue or Vermont green around the Arena District this week.

Dribbling the news: March Madness is back in Columbus, with our city hosting games in both the men's and women's basketball tournaments this weekend.

  • On top of that, the Ohio State women's team plays its first tournament game (and, hopefully, second!) at home.

Why it matters: In a city without a pro basketball team, the coming week is your best chance to see the top collegiate teams in the country up close.

State of play: This marks the fifth time Columbus has hosted men's tournament games.

Men's tournament

The Buckeyes didn't make March Madness this year, but you can still enjoy the novelty of unique matchups at Nationwide Arena.

The schedule: Eight teams play here on Friday:

  • 12:15pm: No. 7 Michigan State vs. No. 10 USC
  • 2:45pm: No. 2 Marquette vs. No. 15 Vermont
  • 6:50pm: No. 1 Purdue vs. the winner of No. 16 Texas Southern and Fairleigh Dickinson
  • 9:20pm: No. 8 Memphis vs. No. 9 Florida Atlantic

Details: Winners play Sunday for a chance to reach the Sweet 16.

Plus: A Party on the Plaza is planned throughout Friday outside Nationwide Arena, featuring tournament games on a large TV and public drinking, as the Arena District's DORA is in place.

Women's tournament

The Schottenstein Center will first host Thursday's play-in game at 7pm between 11-seeds St. John's and Purdue.

  • The winner takes on North Carolina at the Schott this Saturday at 4pm.

Also that day: The No. 3 Buckeyes (25-7) facing No. 14 James Madison at 1:30pm.

  • Saturday's winners play a second-round contest on Monday, with the winner going to the Sweet 16.

Details: Tickets to attend both Saturday games are $20.

  • A bundle including the Monday game is $35.

Looking ahead: The women's Final Four returns to Columbus in 2027.

2. ๐Ÿ’Š The abortion pill battle

Mifepristone in an orange box and yellow pill blisters of misoprostol

Mifepristone and misoprostol tablets, two pills used together in medication abortions. Photo: Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Ohio is one of 20 states where Walgreens won't dispense abortion pills, despite a recent FDA policy change allowing pharmacies to do so across the U.S.

Why it matters: Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year, the confusing fight over access to abortion pills is escalating โ€” leaving many patients in the dark.

  • About half of Ohio abortions in 2021 were non surgical, per state data.

Catch up quick: Walgreens' controversial announcement last week comes after 20 Republican attorneys general, including Ohio's Dave Yost, sent a letter to Walgreens and CVS warning of potential legal consequences for dispensing mifepristone.

  • For years, Ohio has required a physician to be present when a patient takes the first dose in a medication abortion, so the FDA change wasn't expected to affect local access.

Meanwhile, an impending federal court ruling in Texas could restrict access to mifepristone โ€” used with misoprostol in first-trimester abortions โ€” nationwide.

Separately, Ohio abortion rights advocates can now begin collecting signatures for a ballot initiative that would preserve statewide access to abortion.

Go deeper: How abortion pills work and why they're in the spotlight

3. Nutshells: Your local news roundup

Illustration of a buckeye nut bouncing across the screen.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Pickaway County sheriff's deputies shot and killed an aggressive zebra that had earlier attacked its owner. (WCMH-TV)

๐ŸŽจ Franklinton artists are questioning their futures after owners of art studio 400 West Rich announced steep rent hikes. (Matter News)

๐Ÿญ The new American Nitrile Plant in Grove City is making 3 million nitrile gloves per day for medical, government and industrial use.

  • Its ribbon cutting was yesterday after first starting production last November. (WSYX-TV)

๐Ÿ™ Sanborn Wood, known as "The Godfather of the Short North," died last week at the age of 84.

๐Ÿคต Blue Jackets winger Patrik Laine describes his colorful sense of fashion, cultivated after the NHL instituted a game-day dress code. (Columbus Monthly)

4. St. Patrick's Day events in Columbus

Illustration of a shamrock made out of three green-tinted Axios logos.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

It's your lucky day! We've pulled together a list of the best local St. Patrick's Day events this weekend:

โ˜˜๏ธ Watch the downtown parade organized by the Shamrock Club of Columbus.

  • Steps off at 11:30am Friday near Genoa Park. Ends at the Convention Center. Free!

๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช Celebrate your heritage at the Irish Family Reunion after Friday's parade.

  • Purchase food or bring your own!
  • $8-15 at the Convention Center's Battelle Ballroom. Kids under 5 free!

๐Ÿบ Drink green beer and bar crawl.

๐Ÿ•ต๏ธ Solve a murder mystery during the Shamrock Stalker dinner show.

  • 6-9pm Friday at Schmidt's, 240 E. Kossuth St. $60.

๐ŸŽต Sham-rock to Celtic music by Ohio bands at Friday concerts.

More events, including parties at local bars

Take your career to the next level

๐Ÿ’ผ Check out whoโ€™s hiring on our Job Board.

  1. Managing Agency Counsel (Attorney 5) at State of Ohio.
  2. Architecture Associate at Meyers + Associates.
  3. Business Systems Analyst at City of Columbus.

Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.

Hiring? Post a job.

5. ๐Ÿšฆ Photo du jour: A new speed limit in town

Columbus traffic employees Derrick Hodo (on ladder) and James Penn install a new speed limit sign in front of the Ohio Statehouse. Photo: Courtesy of the Columbus Department of Public Service

Heads up, speed demons: Take your foot off the gas when driving through downtown.

This newsletter was edited by Everett Cook and copy edited by Kate Sommers-Dawes and Keely Bastow.

Our picks:

๐Ÿฅถ Alissa is wishing somebody would turn up the heat in Ohio.

๐Ÿค Tyler is relocating to the Axios Columbus satellite office in Key West.