You all come to my city, even if you never leave yours, even if it’s only via cable, satellite dish or internet connection.
Due to the pandemic that destroyed its predecessor, the 2021 NCAA tournament will be held almost entirely within the city limits of Indianapolis. OK, technically I don’t live within these city limits, but still. It’s been my home for almost seven years and it’s a lovely place filled with people who agree on two things above all:
St. Elmo’s makes a hell of a steak.
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Basketball is a godsend and is, as Shooter in Hoosiers puts it, “the greatest game ever invented.”
Even if you are lucky enough to make the trip, your experience won’t be the same as it might have been when the first rounds were here in 2017, when the Midwest region was here in 2013, or when the Final Four surrendered. in 2015. The stands will not be crowded with fans in all venues. Face coverings are mandatory indoors.
However, there will be a tournament. There were so many who doubted the college basketball season could come to this. There were a few who argued that it shouldn’t bother. The images of joy and angst we saw at the conference tournaments – the Connecticut players celebrating Andrew Hurley’s 3 points, the son of coach Dan Hurley, or the tears of Florida State players who lost their second chance at a championship in eight days – demonstrated why it was worth a try.
Since there will be a tournament, we will have a champion and support groups to predict who this team might be. This is where I see him going. There is no guarantee. But expect us to get there.
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March Madness Range Predictions
Gonzaga. The Zags have been the best team in the country since the start of the season. And while their dominance over the West Coast Conference was even more evident than usual because they didn’t have to deal with all those crazy crowds in bandbox gyms, the WCC Finals vs. BYU has shown that they can be resistant. The double-digit halftime deficit gave rookie Jalen Suggs an opportunity to become THAT GUY, and he took it. The Zags will reach the Final Four.
Alabama. The weird thing about the Crimson Tides isn’t that they’re also good at basketball, it’s that they’re known for their 3-point shot while their best quality is how well they defend themselves. Alabama has the second best D. The tide will take the ball away from you. If you keep it, they’ll block your shots. They will prevent you from getting the attempts you want and from making the ones you take. And if they bomb in a score of three, they’re pretty much impossible to beat.
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Illinois. Coach Brad Underwood, who worked at Oklahoma State before accepting the Illinois job, can’t be happy about the possibility of seeing the Cowboys in the Sweet 16. Do you know who’s got it? even less happy? OK state coach Mike Boynton. While Underwood faces a dangerous team just to reach the Elite Eight, Boynton faces one of the top three teams in the country. His Cowboys deserved better treatment. The Illini’s won’t be having it easy, but they’ll send OK State home at least one lap sooner than should have been necessary.
Purdue. The last time we had a tournament, the Boilermakers were only one free kick away from their first Final Four appearance since 1980. That free kick was not made, and they are still waiting. They might not last long. They are a young and developing team, but seem to have landed in a range that can be conquered. The key will be whether youngster Jaden Ivey can continue his recent rise to stardom.