These were the biggest moments in Indiana's 2021 sports year

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Posted at 6:00 AM, Dec 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-30 06:00:44-05

INDIANAPOLIS — The eyes of the sports world were on Central Indiana for much of 2021.

The year began with some dramatic news: On Jan. 4, we learned that the entire NCAA men’s basketball tournament would be held in Indiana.

Six different sites around the Hoosier State hosted college basketball’s best teams. The Circle City got into the spirt of the games as a giant bracket covered the JW Marriott.

After three weeks and 66 games, it all came down to a matchup between the Baylor Bears and the Gonzaga Bulldogs. In the end, Baylor wouldn’t be denied in an 86-70 win at Lucas Oil Stadium.

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Baylor guard Mark Vital (11) celebrates with teammate guard Adam Flagler (10) during a timeout in the second half of the championship game against Gonzaga in the men's Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament, Monday, April 5, 2021, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

On the women’s side, a Hoosier team made history as IU went on a historic run after earning a 4 seed in the tournament.

The Hoosiers made it all the way to the Elite Eight before its magical run was ended by Arizona.

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Indiana celebrate their win over North Carolina State in a college basketball game in the Sweet Sixteen round of the women's NCAA tournament at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Saturday, March 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

March also brought a new era for the Indianapolis Colts.

The team found their new quarterback by trading draft picks to the Philadelphia Eagles to bring Carson Wentz to the Circle City.

As the calendar flipped to May, all eyes turned to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the return of fans to the track.

Thirty-three drivers raced to take the checkered flag in front of the world’s largest crowd since the start of the pandemic.

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FILE - Helio Castroneves of Brazil celebrates after winning the Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Monday, May 31, 2021. Helio Castroneves showed he's still got some lift in his 46-year-old body, climbing the fence after winning a fourth Indy 500. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

After 500 nearly crash-free miles, it came down to the last lap with Helio Castroneves trying to hold off Alex Palou.

Castroneves crossed the Yard of Bricks first and into the four-timers club – a remarkable moment as Spiderman scaled the IMS fence one more time.

In June, the Indiana Pacers turned back the clock as they looked for their next head coach. The Blue and Gold announced Rick Carlisle would return to the sidelines to lead the team.

Carlisle led the Pacers from 2003-07 and guided the team to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2004.

The start of the NFL season brought plenty of frustration for Colts fans as the team lost four of its first five games before turning the season around thanks in part to star running back Jonathan Taylor.

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Running back (28) Jonathan Taylor of the Indianapolis Colts runs the ball and scores a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills in an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021, in Orchard Park, NY. The Colts defeated the Bills 41-15. (AP Photo/Jeff Lewis)

In November, Taylor turned heads around the league as he scored five touchdowns in a 41-15 win against the Buffalo Bills.

As the calendar turns toward January, the Colts continue to fight for a spot in the playoffs.

There was also history on the hardwood for the Purdue Boilermakers.

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Purdue guard Jaden Ivey (23) reacts after a fast-break slam-dunk against Iowa during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in West Lafayette, Ind., Friday, Dec. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Earlier this month, the Purdue men’s basketball team reached No. 1 in the Associated Press poll for the first time in school history.

And with the College Football Playoff National Championship Game coming to Lucas Oil Stadium on Jan. 10, there’s no question 2022 will be another big year for sports in the Hoosier State.