TIME States

12 Reasons Not to #BoycottIndiana

Covered bridge
Getty Images I mean, look at that covered bridge.

Josh Sanburn is a Nation writer for TIME covering crime, demographics and society.

There's more to the state than one terrible law

Indiana has elicited some serious hate thanks to the so-called religious freedom bill signed into law by Republican Gov. Mike Pence that allows businesses to deny service to same-sex couples. The hashtag #boycottindiana has been making the rounds on Twitter and been promoted by the likes of Star Trek’s George Takei, who asked his 1.6 million followers to boycott the heart of the Midwest.

On behalf of my home state, I would like to offer a defense. Not of the religious freedom bill, which I would never defend. But of the state itself, one with fine folks, fine sporting traditions and, well, a delicious pork tenderloin.

  1. Indiana is basketball’s beating heart. Basketball is everywhere. The red barns with battered hoops. The city playgrounds with rims so overused its nets have long since parted. If it wasn’t for actual religion, the sport would be the state’s true faith. Indiana is home to two of the historically great basketball programs: 5-time national champions Indiana University (Let’s overlook the last decade or so. Please.); and perennial underdog Butler, which made it to back-to-back national championship games in 2010 and 2011. Butler also plays in historic Hinkle Fieldhouse, the site of one of the great underdog stories in all of sports: the 1954 Milan team, a tiny school that won the state championship in Hinkle and inspired the movie Hoosiers.
  2. Corn. Listen: There’s a lot of it, and it’s delicious.
  3. The breaded pork tenderloin sandwich. It’s perhaps the only true fare that Indiana can claim. You take a pork tenderloin, you smash until it’s practically paper thin, and then you fry it up. Also, delicious.
  4. Hoosier Hospitality. Knock on anyone’s door and it’s mandated by law that they give you shelter for the night. People in Indiana are that nice. Try it. Tell them Josh sent you.
  5. Gary. Wait, no, not Gary. Sorry. Moving on.
  6. The Jackson 5. Their formative years were spent in the state before making it big and before Michael Jackson completely transformed pop music. Come to think of it, they’re from Gary.
  7. Gary. Sorry, no. Still not Gary.
  8. The Greatest Spectacle in Racing. The Indianapolis 500 is still one of the most incredible sporting events to see live. The 2.5-mile track is like the Grand Canyon of sports. Although I still don’t understand why the winner drinks milk at the end. Which reminds me:
  9. Rolling farmland. Parts of the state (particularly southern Indiana where I’m from, but I’m biased) are truly beautiful with gently rolling hills, wooden barns and silos in the distance. The appeal is in the subtlety.
  10. Johnny Appleseed. Are you eating an apple right now? Thank Johnny Appleseed, who spent much of his time in the state. He probably planted the tree that grew that apple. Or at least that’s what Mrs. Newman in fourth grade told me.
  11. Lincoln’s Boyhood Home. Our greatest president spent his youth in southern Indiana and thank God, because then we would’ve only been able to claim Benjamin Harrison and his grandfather, who was president for a month before he died of pneumonia. Just grab a coat, William Henry!
  12. It’s not Kentucky. Because, seriously, who would want to be from that state?

MORE: Indiana Governor Defends Signing of Religious-Objections Bill

 

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MONEY College

Why Harvard Will Win the NCAA Tournament

150319_FF_MarchMadnessHarvard
Hunter Martin—Getty Images Fans of the Harvard Crimson celebrate a win over the Yale Bulldogs in mid-March. Just imagine how excited they will be in Indianapolis in April if we're right.

Sure, the No. 13 seed in the West is a long shot. But our March Madness bracket favors colleges that produce alumni who win the financial tournament of life.

For the three weeks known as March Madness, college basketball fans focus on stats like field goal percentages or player efficiency. But we here at MONEY try to stay sane and pay attention to the numbers that matter over the long term.

So when we filled out this year’s NCAA men’s tournament bracket, we picked teams based on our Best Colleges rankings, which look at which schools do best in terms of affordability, quality of education, and graduating students into good-paying jobs. In other words, if we gathered these players and their classmates together again in, say, 25 or 50 years, who would likely be on the best financial footing?

This gave us an unorthodox final four of Harvard (6th in our value rankings, while a 13th seed in the tournament), Notre Dame (20th), Virginia (16th), and UCLA (31st), with Harvard besting Virginia in Indianapolis on April 6.

That Harvard is the overall winner is not exactly surprisingly: 97% of students graduate, there have been no recent defaulters on student loans, and the average recent graduate is earning about $55,000 a year these days, according to data from Payscale.com. But the elite private colleges don’t dominate in this bracket or in life. Two of our final four are public universities–Virginia and UCLA–which also have graduation rates above 90% and whose recent alumni typically earn about $50,000 a year.

Looking for this year’s Cinderella story? Manhattan (40th), the rightful winner of the play-in game against Hampton under our system, is predicted to oust undefeated Kentucky (389th) in the first round and go all the way to the Elite Eight. Another sixteen seed makes history in our bracket, as Lafayette College (28th) knocks off Villanova (114th) in the first round and hangs on until the Elite Eight as well.

There are some squeakers along the way. Schools within 20 places of each other in our ranking are roughly equivalent. But, strictly by our numbers, pricey, exclusive Lafayette edges out public and relatively affordable UC Irvine (32nd) in the Sweet 16 round. Lafayette Leopards tend to graduate into higher-paying jobs than do Irvine Anteaters (a difference of about $8,000 a year, according to Payscale), but they pay much more for their degrees. The average Leopard pays a total of $178,000 (after college scholarships are subtracted) for a bachelor’s degree, versus the Anteaters’ total bill of about $123,000.

Under our college value selection system, Brigham Young (9th) not only makes the roster of 64 teams but goes all the way to the Elite Eight before running up against unstoppable Harvard. Other notables in our bracket: Perennial basketball powerhouse Duke (32nd) barely makes it past Georgetown (37th) in the Sweet 16 before falling to UCLA. But high seeds like Gonzaga (177), Arizona (99), and Kansas (248) stumble early in the tournament.

To see how your college ranks in the competition of life, check out our full college rankings. Dig into our full NCAA bracket below (click the image to see a larger version).

MoneyBracket 3-18b

 

TIME College Basketball

College Basketball Has Lost Its Soul

Atlantic 10 Basketball Tournament - VCU v Richmond
Alex Goodlett—Getty Images The Richmond Spiders play the Virginia Commonwealth Rams during a quarterfinal game in the 2015 Men's Atlantic 10 Basketball Tournament at the Barclays Center on March 13, 2015 in Brooklyn.

Attendance and ratings are down. Scoring is at historic lows. Arenas are antiseptic. Why is the sport so troubled?

What are we doing here?

It’s Friday afternoon in Brooklyn, just days before the annual “Selection Sunday” that will decide the layout of the NCAA tournament. The Barclays Center, home of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, is hosting the conference tournament quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10, a hoop-centric group of schools whose core geographical imprint stretches from Philadelphia, through Washington, D.C. down to Richmond, Virginia, while hitting a few places in the midwest: Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Dayton. Yet the Atlantic 10 hosts its conference tournament in New York City, home to Fordham University—one of the league’s northern outliers and worst basketball teams.

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and the University of Richmond, two schools separated by five miles in the Virginia capital, are playing a tight, tough game, which VCU will eventually win, 70-67. But the whole thing still feels a bit out of place. The Atlantic 10 moved its tournament to Brooklyn back in 2013 because, more than anything, college athletic conferences have become marketing entities. Let’s bring the show to the big city, baby, no matter the convenience for the “student-athletes,” whose time spent traveling extra miles could be spent, you know, studying.

This rivalry game sparked some electricity. Fans of VCU, which made a surprising run to the Final Four back in 2011, travel well, and as VCU finishes off the Spiders, the place is loud and moderately rocking. Still, the building is only a little more than a third full, according to the official attendance figures. Empty seats dot prime areas behind the basket. Most of the fans are wearing yellow (for VCU) or red (for Richmond), but very few locals seem to be there. The Big Apple hasn’t exactly caught A-10 fever.

Which comes as no shock. Across the country, people seem to be falling out of love with college basketball. Attendance for Division I men’s games has fallen for seven straight seasons, according to the Associated Press. TV ratings for CBS and ESPN are down.

A well-documented drop in scoring, which is near historically low levels, has been blamed for college basketball’s struggles. Ugly play has certainly contributed. Controlling coaches drain the fun and flow out of the game. Players are stronger—and more physical, which tends to hurt, more than help, offense. Technology has made scouting an opponent’s tendencies easier. When you know what your foe is about to do, he’s easier to defend.

These trends have surely contributed to college basketball’s struggles. So have some forces beyond the sport’s control. More than ever, Americans want appointment television, whether it’s a must-see football game or even an international soccer game we can all chirp about on Twitter, or a favorite show on the DVR. We have so many entertainment options: Our investment in a two-hour regular season college basketball game better pay off. Too often, it doesn’t.

In football, the regular season games really matter. In baseball, a fraction of the teams make the post-season, so even the early April games have something at stake. In college basketball, if teams struggle in the regular season, they can earn a March Madness spot by doing well in a conference tournament. Does any one regular season game really matter that much?

True, you can say the same thing about NBA regular season games. But if you like basketball, and can choose between watching the best players in the world in the NBA, or a bunch of college kids throwing up bricks and college coaches calling a million timeouts, and calling for a million fouls at the end of close games… it’s an easy call.

When pitted against football, college hoops is almost helpless. College football is a juggernaut, and college basketball starts its season in mid-November—just as the playoff and bowl chases are coming down the stretch. Into December and through the Super Bowl, the NFL is going strong. Even the NFL off-season overshadows college hoops. This past week, major free agent moves—and in particular, coach Chip Kelly’s casino gambling with the future of the Philadelphia Eagles—stole tons of attention from conference basketball tournaments.

College basketball is in danger of becoming a one-month sport, capturing buzz only during March Madness. The sport’s relevance problem even sparked Pac-12 deputy commissioner Jamie Zaninovich to propose on SI.com that the start of the regular season be pushed back to mid-December, and the Final Four to take place in early May—to help college basketball escape football’s shadow.

Officials can tinker with the game. But some of the optics of this week’s conference tournaments also suggest that, because schools have been chasing the lushest revenue streams, the sport has also just lost its way. On Thursday night at Madison Square Garden in New York City, for example, Butler, from Indianapolis, and Xavier, from Cincinnati, met in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament. Why are schools from two Midwestern cities, connected by I-74 through Indiana, playing in New York? As part of something with “East” in the name?

All the conference reshuffling of the past few years destroyed many regional rivalries. Out of this rubble rose a new entity called American Athletic Conference (AAC). ESPN showed highlights from an exciting AAC quarterfinal game between East Carolina and the University of Central Florida that went into overtime. East Carolina won 81-80. The game was played in Hartford, Conn. On TV, the stands looked empty.

College hoops is still thriving in many places. And as we gear up for Sunday night’s selection show, a drab regular season will be forgotten. We’ll fill out our March Madness brackets, root for Cinderella, see if Kentucky can become the first team to finish undefeated in almost 40 years. It’ll be a blast.

But the question is still worth asking: What are we doing here?

Read next: The Case for Sports Gambling in America

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Crime

Barrels of Stolen Wild Turkey Bourbon Have Been Recovered in Kentucky

The lengths people go to for a sip of good bourbon

Kentucky police have recovered five barrels of stolen Wild Turkey bourbon from a man’s backyard.

After responding to a tip-off on Wednesday, Franklin County sheriff’s deputies found the barrels of the popular whiskey behind a shed, each with a value of between $3,700 and $6,000. About 25 firearms were also found, NBC reports.

The bourbon was produced in a Wild Turkey distillery in Lawrenceburg and was still aging.

One man has been arrested and authorities are still following up on leads.

Sheriff Pat Melton couldn’t say yet whether the heist was connected to an unsolved 2013 theft of rare Pappy Van Winkle bourbon, worth more than $25,000.

Wild Turkey is testing samples of the bourbon and is conducting its own investigation.

About 95% of the world’s bourbon is produced in Kentucky.

[NBC]

TIME weather

‘Last Hurrah’ Winter Storm Hitting Mid-Atlantic, Extending to East Coast

Plucky Bostonians are saying bring it on, we want the record!

Millions of people in 28 states faced winter weather on Thursday as a late-season storm swept across North America.

Drivers in Kentucky were left stranded on the road as snow piled around them on Interstate 65. A snowy runway at New York’s LaGuardia Airport caused an airplane to skid off the road and the city of Washington was effectively a ghost town, thanks to piles of snow that shuttered federal government operations.

Temperatures were significantly colder than average — anywhere from 10 to 30°F — across the region.

The governors of Alabama, Mississippi, West Virginia and New Jersey all declared states of emergency on Thursday, the Associated Press reports. But at long last, one of the worst winters in recent memory may be relenting, according to Mike Halpert, deputy director of the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center.

He told the Associated Press the storm “might be winter’s last hurrah.”

But in Boston, a city two inches away from breaking its all-time snow record, some residents said bring it on.

“I want the record. We earned the record,” said Erin O’Brien, professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts-Boston.

TIME Bizarre

Kentucky Police Blame Cold Weather On … Elsa From Frozen

Frozen
Disney

"Suspect is a blonde female last seen wearing a long blue dress and is known to burst into song 'Let it Go!'"

Cold weather hasn’t stopped a Kentucky police department from showing its sense of humor.

The Harlan City Police Department posted on its Facebook page Wednesday that it blamed poor weather on Elsa from Frozen, and that it had taken out a warrant for the snow princess’ arrest.

For the uninitiated, Elsa possesses the magical power to create snow and ice.

Shortly after, the Harlan police posted another message warning residents that, joking aside, the weather was still serious business.

While we might not be able to blame Elsa for the weather, how about issuing an arrest warrant for getting “Let It Go” stuck in our heads for the past year and a half?

TIME States

Kentucky Mulls Statewide Smoking Ban

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Shui Ta Shan—Flickr RF/Getty Images

But measure unlikely to become law

Kentucky lawmakers voted Friday to ban smoking in all public buildings and workplaces, but the measure faces a steep uphill battle to become law.

The vote was seen as a landmark move in Kentucky, which ranks among the states with highest tobacco yield. The sponsor of the bill, state Rep. Susan Westrom, said secondhand smoke kills about 950 Kentuckians each year.

The bill passed 51-46 in the Democratic-controlled state House of Representatives, WLWT reports, but will face harsher odds in the Republican-controlled state Senate.

[WLWT]

TIME faith

Noah’s Ark Theme Park Group Sues Kentucky Over Withdrawn Tax Breaks

Ark Encounter Concept art of Noah's Ark

Answers in Genesis to sue for $18 million over tax rebates withdrawn for group's hiring practices

A Creationist group building a Noah’s Ark-inspired theme park said Tuesday it would sue Kentucky for $18 million in tax rebates the state withdrew over its hiring practices.

Answers in Genesis President and CEO Ken Ham announced the lawsuit in a YouTube video, claiming the state breached the group’s right to freedom of religion by denying the tax incentives on the grounds that the group was using the project as an “extension of [its] ministry.”

Kentucky’s tourism secretary said in December that the park required a “salvation testimony” and a “Creation belief statement” in its job postings, which the state said was hiring discrimination based on religious grounds.

“[The lawsuit] really involves freedom of religion, free exercise of religion, freedom of speech in this great nation of America,” Ham said in the video. “Numerous bloggers and media outlets have spread a lot of misinformation about the tax rebate program, and also a lot of false information about employment laws as they relate to the Ark Encounter project.”

Ham, who became known for his creation debate last year against Bill Nye “The Science Guy,” was joined in the video by Mike Johnson, Chief Counsel of Freedom Guard, a religious liberty defense organization that will represent Answers in Genesis.

“This is public interest law,” Johnson said. “We’re defending freedom for everyone, and I think that’s an important cause that all of us should be involved in.”

TIME Crime

Kentucky Teen Fugitive: ‘We Just Went On a Few High-Speed Chases’

Dalton Hayes is shown in this Bay County Sheriff's Office booking photo
Bay County Sheriff's Office—Reuters Dalton Hayes, 18, is shown in this Bay County Sheriff's Office booking photo released on January 18, 2015.

Dalton Hayes plays down a two-week crime spree with his 13-year-old girlfriend

Dalton Hayes, the 18-year-old Kentucky teen who allegedly stole a series of vehicles on his way to Florida with his 13-year-old girlfriend, revealed from jail Monday that he had been attempting to reach Miami and escape prosecution in his home state, where he was charged with theft and burglary last year.

Hayes will be extradited back to Kentucky and will face additional charges of burglary, criminal mischief and trespassing.

Taking a bus would have been better, according to Hayes. “We just went on a few high-speed chases,” he said in an interview with the Panama City News Herald.

The pair disappeared on Jan. 3 and were arrested in Florida last Saturday after allegedly stealing trucks, one of which contained two guns, in a multi-state chase.

[NBC News]

TIME Crime

Kentucky’s ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ Teens Will Face Charges in Their Home State

Missing Teens Crime Spree
Tammy Martin—AP In this December 2014 file photo provided by Tammy Martin, her son Dalton Hayes poses with his girlfriend Cheyenne Phillips at his family's home in Leitchfield, Ky. Kentucky authorities say two teenage sweethearts suspected in a crime spree of stolen vehicles and pilfered checks across the South have been apprehended in in Panama City Beach, Fla., on Jan. 18, 2015

They're being booked for burglary and trespassing related offenses

After a two-week-long crime spree, Dalton Hayes, 18, and his 13-year-old girlfriend, Cheyenne Phillips, will be returning home to Kentucky to face multiple charges.

Hayes, who was captured in Florida, relinquished his right to an extradition hearing and will be charged with burglary, criminal trespassing and custodial interference, according to NBC News.

Grayson County Sheriff Norman Chaffins said Phillips will be charged with similar crimes “but she’ll be treated differently than Dalton because he’s an adult.”

The couple is suspected of stealing three cars during a two-week crime spree that covered multiple states and drew media comparisons to the infamous 1930s criminal couple Bonnie and Clyde. On Facebook, the Grayson County Sheriff’s office distanced themselves from the comparison, however.

Hayes’ mother, Tammy Martin, said she doesn’t know what went through her son’s mind but was happy he was found.

“The first thing I’m going to do when I see him is hug him and tell him I love him, and then I might smack him,” she said.

[NBC News]

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