Sunday, August 15, 2010
Indianapolis Basketball Doubleheader Good For IU
What does Indiana have to gain by the basketball doubleheader with Purdue, Notre Dame and Butler?
For starters, it should be a great event, certain to draw interest of fans all over the state, if not the country. Purdue, Notre Dame and Butler are NCAA tourney regulars. IU is building its way back to that status. What kind of sports fan wouldn’t be interested in an event like this?
Then, it gives the Hoosiers a presence in Indianapolis, which will be good for fans (Indianapolis has the largest IU fan base in, well, the world) and recruiting. Plus, they’ll get to play in Conseco Fieldhouse, one of the best basketball venues on the planet.
It also will feature quality competition, which not only will be good for fan interest, but will help steel IU for Big Ten play. It won’t be a road game, but the neutral site will help duplicate NCAA tourney conditions, a benefit when the Hoosiers return to that March madness (yes, it’s going to happen). It also will boost Indiana’s strength of schedule and at-large bid appeal to the NCAA tourney selection committee.
It almost certainly will be a great television event (either on the Big Ten Network or on a national network) that will draw attention to all the universities involved as well as the Big Ten conference and the Horizon League.
Beyond all that, Notre Dame and Butler are logical non-conference opponents for IU to play. They are teams the Hoosiers should play every year rather than, say, the Howards and USC Upstates of the college basketball world.
For the record, IU and Purdue won’t play each other in this event. They’ll get their shots during Big Ten play. Instead, those teams will rotate each year with Butler and Notre Dame.
Athletic directors from the four participating schools, including IU’s Fred Glass, will announce the matchups for the two-year deal today. It would begin next season.
You would think this event will sell out. Conseco Fieldhouse seats around 19,000, so each team needs to sell around 4,800 tickets.
Yes, Indiana has struggled to just 16 victories over the past two seasons, but coach Tom Crean has things turned around. A winning record, and a postseason appearance, are very possible. In fact, you can almost bet the house on it.
Purdue has gone to two straight Sweet 16s and won 103 games over the past four seasons. Butler is coming off a 33-win season that culminated in a national runner-up finish. It has won 89 games over the last three seasons. Notre Dame has won 69 games in the last three seasons.
This isn’t the first time these teams have gotten together in Indianapolis. They used to play in something called the Hoosier-Butler Classic in the 1940s and ‘50s.
As it turns out, something old is new again. And that is very good for IU.