It seems like a nice, quaint Middle America story that seven of the schools in the Sweet 16 are located within a two-hour drive of Cincinnati. It’s a nod to a college hoops holy ground, that while lacking a cool nickname such as Tobacco Road exceeds its Carolina peers in depth of passion.
Indiana, Louisville, Kentucky, Xavier, Cincinnati, Ohio State and Ohio University are all still going. We could even have an all-region Final Four. Expect lots of footage of sweeping cornfields and old backboards tacked onto decaying barns.
This is a feel-good story except for one thing: the River of Hate (not the Ohio River) that runs through the region.
Forget Midwestern hospitality, these seven schools share one common thread: a distinct distaste for their neighbors. Through the decades, there have been endless rivalries, on-court brawls, coaches at each other’s throats, media smack talk and even litigation over the names of the schools.