Indiana Wants Me

To the strains of Also sprach Zarathustra (2001: A Space Odyssey overture), the 2021 March Madness resurrection from the smoldering ruins of a year ago is now complete with the reemergence of the Final Four in Indianapolis. Following the usual spate of upsets, near-misses and outright implosions, the quartet of survivors will meet this weekend to crown the NCAA’s first basketball champion in two years. And, akin to Liam Neeson in Taken, each remaining participant has a very particular set of skills, skills they have acquired over a very long season, skills that make them a nightmare for opponents like the ones they are facing…”Good luck.”

Game one: Baylor vs. Houston

A matchup of old Southwest Conference rivals which, in the mid-90s twilight of the league’s existence, would have seemed exceedingly unlikely to meet so deeply into the NCAA tournament. Houston’s last Final Four appearance was in 1984; Baylor’s, in 1950. Each member of the Cougars’ balanced three-guard perimeter attack scored in double figures in the squad’s Elite Eight victory over Oregon State. The Bears did likewise in their nine-point regional final win over Arkansas.

THE PICK…BAYLOR

Urine town at just the right time — Indiana Chamber of Commerce

Game two: Gonzaga vs. UCLA

During the span of 12 seasons from 1964–1975, while UCLA was collecting 10 national championships, Gonzaga was toiling away in the Big Sky Conference, routinely losing to opponents such as Eastern Montana, San Fernando Valley and Whitworth. How times have changed. Now, the top-seeded 30–0 Bulldogs are heavy favorites against the #11 seed Bruins, who had to push their way into the main draw through the First Four. The Zags have yet to win a tourney game by fewer than 16 points.

THE PICK…GONZAGA

AND THE PICK TO WIN THE PLAGUE PLAQUE: BAYLOR BEARS

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