Cookies and popcorn on the line in tonight’s UConn game

Forget the showdown in Washington over this year’s spending bill. The real cliffhanger is, of course, tonight’s NCAA championship game between UConn’s Huskies and Butler University’s Bulldogs.

To that end, Sens. Joseph Lieberman and Richard Blumenthal have put a bet on the congressional table-some Pepperidge Farm Swirl Breads and Dinner Rolls-that the Huskies will win. Indiana’s two Republican Senators, Richard Lugar and Dan Coats, have staked a case of Cousin Willie’s Popcorn, from Ramsey Popcorn Co. in Indiana.

“Second only to celebrating UConn’s victory will be enjoying popcorn provided by my Indiana colleagues, and sharing it with other Huskies fans,” Blumenthal said in a statement on the friendly political bet. “While I commend the Butler Bulldogs on a hard-fought season, it’s clear that the Huskies are finishing with a win in Houston.”

No wager from any of the lawmakers about the chances of a government shutdown come Friday. That’s when the current federal spending bill for 2011 expires, and the two parties remain sharply divided over how to fund the government for the rest of this year.