Hey, Mike Pence – what’s your beef with the Fighting Irish?
Are you rooting for Duke?
Campaigning this year for governor, no one can blame Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., for his imaginative -- yet certainly strategic -- public prediction that one home-state school, Indiana, will face another home-state school, Purdue, in the finals for the NCAA basketball national championship, with Indiana winning it all.
But what is somewhat curious is that Pence is not affording Indiana’s other team in the NCAA tournament – Notre Dame, located in South Bend – a similar fancifully good fate.
Instead, in his draw, Pence has perennial powerhouse Duke University ousting Notre Dame in what would be those teams’ second game. And then he has Indiana defeating Duke in a showdown two rounds later.
Pence made his picks known in a campaign letter on Thursday asking backers to take a look at how he’s filled out his NCAA tournament brackets.
“From Terre Haute to Evansville, from Bloomington to West Lafayette, up to Valparaiso, South Bend, Fort Wayne, and down to Muncie and Indianapolis, Indiana loves basketball,” Pence gushes, in the “Dear Supporter” letter.
“This year we have three home teams in the tournament: Indiana, Purdue, and Notre Dame,” he goes on. “So let's have some fun. Take a look at my bracket here. Yes, I am taking my Indiana teams far this year, as each of them have the chance to make this year's tournament memorable for all of Indiana.”
Sure, miracles might happen, even in cases of extreme political homerism.
Yet, it’s curious that Pence would float the idea that a No. 4 seed like Indiana would square off against a 10th seed like Purdue in the championship finals – yet predict the relatively early ouster of Indiana’s other team, Notre Dame, a No. 7 seed.
Pence campaign spokesman Matt Lloyd responded that it doesn't take a NCAA bracket master like ESPN.com senior basketball writer Andy Katz "to figure this out."
"Mike is an IU alum. His son attends Purdue," said Lloyd.