Like clockwork, March comes without hesitation, bringing one of the most anticipated sporting events of the year with it. The month itself cannot typically be mentioned without bringing up the legendary March Madness basketball tournament.
64 collegiate basketball teams, either selected by a committee or victors of a conference championship, face off against each other, round-by-round, until there is only one victor. Only one team in all of college basketball can hold the prestigious honor of cutting down the net after a long and arduous tournament victory. This year, as of the end of the round of 32, Indiana is the state that holds the highest mathematical probability of having one of its schools win. Two of the top 16 remaining teams in the tournament are located in Indiana. These two colleges are Purdue University and Butler University. No other Sweet 16 schools share their state with another remaining competitor.
Indiana was very close to having three teams hold a Sweet 16 bid. If Notre Dame had won their matchup against West Virginia on Saturday, this would have been true. All three of these Indiana-based teams were 5 seeds or higher as well. Not many other states, if any at all, can claim these statistics. However, it almost seems as if Indiana goes overlooked simply because the state is not in the name of the college.
This year is actually below average even a typical year Indiana when it comes to how many teams it puts into the tournament. In recent years, two other college teams have been present with the three previously stated teams. These two are Indiana University and Valparaiso University. This year, though, neither teams were deemed worthy of competing in the tournament. They were instead selected for the National Invitation Tournament, or the NIT, where both teams fell short in their first matchups. This disappointing end to Indiana University’s season led to the firing of long-tenured coach Tom Crean.
This disappointing end to Indiana University’s season led to the firing of long-tenured head coach Tom Crean. Whoever is tabbed to replace Crean will be tasked with leading the Hoosiers back into tournament relevancy. Valparaiso had finished first in their conference during the regular season, but fell short in their conference postseason and therefore failed to earn an auto-bid into the prestigious March Madness tournament.
The state of Indiana often goes overlooked by many passersby and fanatics alike, despite it being a central hub for collegiate sports. The state hosts Final Four matchups for basketball, the Big 10 championship game for football, and teams with championship pedigree in every sport. The top ten most populated states collectively put six teams into the Sweet 16, no state with multiple teams. The small, forgotten, “flyover” state of Indiana put two teams into the Sweet 16, and had another on the verge of making it. Perhaps Indiana is not as small and underwhelming as one may be led to believe.