Final Four: What Time Is It?
Mason time. Eastern standard time. Time to see if the slipper fits. Time to spring forward one hour.
The two big stories in Indiana this afternoon are the time and the game.
Today's edition of the Indianapolis Star contains about half a dozen reminders to change clocks late tonight, including a front-page banner headline, an extensive story on exactly how to change a clock, and the paper's lead editorial, which bravely takes this courageous stance: "Our position: Hoosiers should sleep well after setting their clocks ahead...."
The hoopla stems from the fact that tonight is the first time that Indianans will conform to the rest of the country's time scheme and begin daylight saving time at 2 a.m. Sunday. It's a sad moment, the loss of perhaps the single best thing about this state. They had it wrong--what you want is year-round saving time, not year-round standard time--but they had the right sentiment: that changing clocks is an idiotic sop to the worrywarts who insist on pushing daylight to the very early morning, when it does no one any good, instead of hoarding it for the end of the day, when it can dramatically improve the quality of life.
Anyway, that's the other big story here. The one that's dominating downtown is the NCAA tournament, and the George Mason kids are pouring in even as I type. Best way to get a cheap place to stay the night before the Final Four: Drive all night. That's what many of the Mason students have done, and, bleary-eyed and dazed from road stare, they are wandering the streets of this tiny and otherwise desolate downtown, whooping it up, snapping up the few Mason-related souvenirs that are available, and trading good-natured barbs with partisans of the other teams competing tonight.
The police are out in force--several of the finest of the Speedway Police Department (yes, the area around the race course has its own police department) parked themselves over at the Motel 6 last night to assure that the Mason kids who took the bus here from Fairfax didn't get too rowdy. (They went downtown to the bar scene to escape the watchful eyes of the Speedway men in blue. Actually, women, mostly.)
Mason fever has taken over downtown Indy. The Star's Final Four preview section dispensed with any semblance of balance, devoting five pages of coverage to the Patriots, just one less page than it took to cover all three of the other teams combined. The locals are buying up Mason souvenirs at a rate of more than 4-1 over any other team, the manager of all the vending stands downtown told me.
If the Patriots win tonight, they have arranged to practice for the championship game at legendary Hinkle Fieldhouse, site of the historic 1954 state high school championship game in which Milan beat Muncie Central, 32-30, the victory that became the ultimate hoops movie, "Hoosiers," in 1986. Mason Coach Jim Larranaga tried to get Hinkle for a practice on Thursday, but the place was being used for a three-point shooting competition.
By the way, if you're still headed this way, there are plenty of scalpers on the streetsl, with tickets galore. Prices are running barely above face--the scalpers are very gumbly about it, but it's a buyer's market.
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