It's Minnesota vs. Indiana in the WNBA Finals, so here's a "best-of" look at these two states. We quizzed the natives that both teams have: Minnesota-born-and-raised Lindsay Whalen, the Lynx point guard, and Indiana-born-and-raised Stephanie White, the Fever's head coach. As a Midwesterner who has spent a lot of time in both states, I'll toss in my picks, too.
Best TV show set in the state
Whalen: "I'm too young for 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show'; I missed that. I'll go with 'Coach.' He was at Minnesota State, which we didn't even have back then." (Mankato State changed names to Minnesota State in 1999, two years after the TV show ended.)
Voepel: "I'm a lot older than Whalen and am the biggest 'MTM' fan on the planet. I'm just bummed that the famous Mary statue is currently in storage because of renovation work on Nicollet Mall."
White: "Parks and Recreation." (Set in wonderfully-fake-but-oh-so-real Pawnee.)
Voepel: "One Day at a Time" if I go with my cheesy 1970s bias; Ms. Romano and daughters lived in Indianapolis. Nah, I'll choose "Parks and Rec," too.
Best movie set in the state
Whalen: "'Mighty Ducks,' hands down. One of the classics."
Voepel: "'Fargo,' despite being named after the North Dakota city. Most of the movie takes place in Minnesota, eh?"
White: "It's 'Hoosiers,' of course!"
Voepel: "Naddafinga! 'A Christmas Story,' set in Hohman, a fictionalized version of Hammond, Indiana.
Best athlete who is from the state
Whalen: "Hmm, I'm going through all the sports ... I'll pick Kevin McHale."
Voepel: "You know I'm going to say Lindsay Whalen."
White: "Our very own Larry Bird."
Voepel: "Sue's uncle, Larry. Just kidding! For the millionth time, they are not related."
Best quality of the state
Whalen: "I want to say kindness, but I'll go with loyalty."
Voepel: "Humor. It's required with the wind-chill factor."
White: "Just the people."
Voepel: "They really, really love basketball."
Best performer from the state
Voepel: "Jessica Lange. I'd say Judy Garland, but she moved to California at age 4. Lange grew up in Cloquet, Minnesota."
White: "Michael Jackson, but David Letterman is right up there!"
Voepel: "Michael Jackson, regardless of how many people failed miserably trying to do the moonwalk."
Best food from the state
Whalen: "During state fair time, it's anything on a stick that is deep-fried. Otherwise, Juicy Lucys. That's like a burger, but inside the meat is cheese and whatever you want to put in it."
Voepel: "I'm vegan, so that all sounds awful."
White: "Grilled tenderloin."
Voepel: "I'll just skip this category."
Best pastime in the state
Whalen: "It's seasonal. In the summer, outdoors stuff. In the winter, it's talking about our next snowstorm."
Voepel: "Now that I can't visit the Mary statue and take pictures, I'm unsure what I'll do when not covering a game."
White: "Shooting hoops in a barn. And for those of us who grew up in small towns, mushroom hunting."
Voepel: "Pretty sure the thing I've done most in Indiana is drive."