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If you’ve followed Sports Illustrated senior writer Jon Wertheim closely over the years, you might suspect that he has more than a passing interest in Indiana University basketball. Like, say, if you read the piece he wrote for SI last season, shortly after IU’s much-hyped home-court win over Kentucky, which ran with the following headline: “We’re Back, Baby!”
“It’s the only team I actively root for,” says Wertheim, a 1989 Bloomington High School North grad. “I probably shouldn’t confess to being a full-throated fan, but I have a special history there that I can’t deny.”
Although Wertheim tries to adhere to the "no cheering in the press box" edict of sports journalism, his crimson stripes were showing big-time during the Hoosiers’ exhilarating win over North Carolina on Tuesday. “Indiana didn’t win even win a road game two seasons ago,” he tweeted. “Now? Up 26 on U friggin NC.” He also made a revelation of sorts: “Was it really just two years ago that an editor suggested that I write about the sad state of sports in Indiana?”
“I’m the de facto Indiana guy here, so everything Indiana-related often ends up with me,” Wertheim says of the editor's proposal. “Some of it was just kind of ribbing, too, because everyone knows I’m partial to the mother country. ‘You always want to do a story on Jim Irsay or the Pacers or Indiana basketball—why don’t you do a story on the sad state of affairs?'"
Wertheim says he actually considered taking up the assignment—until an underdog from Indianapolis salvaged the state’s reputation. “If Butler had not pulled off five wins [in the NCAA tournament],” he says, “the story may have ended up getting written.”
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