Basketball is the most popular sport in the Midwest state of Indiana. And this collegiate season, Indiana University has surprised nearly everyone by reaching the men's national title game Monday night against Maryland.
Despite losing four of its final 10 regular season games, Indiana won a share of its conference title. But with an overall record of 20 wins and 11 losses heading into the national tournament, nobody gave Indiana much of a chance. It was not even ranked in the top 25 college teams in the nation.
But Indiana scored a one-point victory in the third round against defending champion Duke, and in the semifinals here Saturday, Indiana knocked off another highly-ranked team, Oklahoma.
Now Indiana and its enthusiastic fans know this season is something special.
Senior forward Jarrad Odle is one of four members of the team who makes his home in Indiana. He said, "Living in the state of Indiana, with basketball being so rich in tradition as it is, really brings a lot of satisfaction to myself to know that I've worked my way through it. With these teammates, we're basically playing a kid's dream and living it out. And we still have some work to do Monday night, and hopefully we can get it done."
If Indiana is to win its first national basketball title in 15 years, it will have to get past a highly-regarded team from the University of Maryland which won its semifinal over Kansas.