OMAHA, Neb. — The calendar says it's June, and here are Indiana and Louisville vying for a national crown.
Yes, the sport is baseball this time, not the game played with the big orange ball for which both schools are traditionally known.
The Hoosiers (48-18) are making their College World Series debut as the first Big Ten team in 29 years to reach Omaha. They'll open Saturday night against a Louisville team (51-12) that's here for only the second time, and first since 2007.
"Maybe we should get a basketball and start a pickup game out here," Indiana third baseman Dustin DeMuth said with a grin after Friday's practice at TD Ameritrade Park.
The CWS begins Saturday afternoon with Mississippi State (48-18) and ex-UK coach John Cohen facing No. 3 seed Oregon State (50-11).
The teams that make it through double-elimination bracket play will advance to the best-of-three finals that start June 24.
After IU won its super regional at Florida State, basketball coach Tom Crean said Indiana was now a baseball state. Coach Tracy Smith said he appreciated the comment but, as an Indiana native, he knows baseball's place.
Right now, that place is Omaha. Like other teams that play in the CWS for the first time, they are sure to be the favorites of the locals who will fill up the stadium.
The Hoosiers' pre-season goal was to get to Omaha even though they had never made it out of regionals in their only other NCAA Tournament appearances in 1996 and 2009.
Now that they're here?
"We're definitely here to win," third baseman Dustin DeMuth said. "We've talked about that a lot this week. One of our goals was to get to Omaha, and we didn't really specify what we wanted to do in Omaha. We have good leadership, everybody has a good head on their bodies, and everybody is going to stay focused and try to win baseball games."
Louisville is trying to finish what has been a spectacular run for the school. The Cardinals beat Florida in the Sugar Bowl, won the men's national championship in basketball and were national runners-up in women's basketball.
"You want to get on the train of success, as we like to call it," Louisville Coach Dan McDonnell said. "At this point in the year, we're glad we're able to do our part and hopefully cap off really a magical year in college athletics."
Indiana won two of three regular-season games against Louisville.
Mississippi State features All-America right fielder Hunter Renfroe, the No. 13 overall draft pick of the San Diego Padres who is batting .360 with 15 home runs. The only higher draft choice in the CWS is North Carolina third baseman Colin Moran, taken sixth by the Miami Marlins.
Kendall Graveman (7-5) will start for MSU against either Beavers lefty Matt Boyd (10-3) or freshman Andrew Moore (14-1).
Oregon State bounced back from a loss to Kansas State in Game 1 of super regionals to return to the CWS for the fourth time since 2005. The Beavers have tied a school record for most wins.
Indiana vs. Louisville
When: 8 p.m.
Pitchers: Indiana, Joey DeNato (9-2) vs. Louisville, Chad Green (10-3).