Indiana Basketball: Hoosiers, Boilermakers Could Intensify Rivalry at Crossroads Classic

Feb 20, 2016; Bloomington, IN, USA; Purdue Boilermakers forward Caleb Swanigan (50) shoots a free throw as Indiana Hoosier fans wave large fatheads to distract him at Assembly Hall. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 20, 2016; Bloomington, IN, USA; Purdue Boilermakers forward Caleb Swanigan (50) shoots a free throw as Indiana Hoosier fans wave large fatheads to distract him at Assembly Hall. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports /

Indiana basketball can up the intensity on the in-state rivalry with the Purdue Boilermakers. What better way to raise the stakes than allow the two schools to play?

Indiana sits a top the world of basketball, deeply rooted with the sport throughout the state. Some of the greatest games ever coached by Bobby Knight came against his in state rival. Gene Keedy spent 25 years became the second most winningest coach in the Big Ten for Purdue, of course behind coach Knight.

The 2016 Crossroad Classic is getting set to tip off today and it brings up an important conversation. Why is one of the best supposed college basketball rivalries only squaring off once a year?

The two schools should be considered a heavily mentioned rivalry in the national media. The feeling at the end of 2016 about this rivalry by the national media is lackluster.  Look at some of the best rivalries in sports in general. They are the main talking point for weeks before their match ups. The bickering and bragging lasts for years. Most importantly, the teams or schools have the opportunity to play more than once.

So why does the Big Ten Conference decide to put schools like Northwestern and Michigan on Indiana’s schedule twice a year and Purdue only once? Does the Big Ten Conference not feel like the rivalry is important enough to play on a religious biannual basis?

If basketball is really considered a root of Indiana, the two top schools in the state should begin by expanding on the rivalry. What better way to do that with a match up on a neutral floor right around the holidays.

The Crossroad Classic would be a perfect place for Indiana and Purdue fans to see another chance for their teams to play. Both schools sit less than 100 miles away from Indianapolis, and it could set a new standard of attention for both schools.

Athletic Director Fred Glass was recently asked about the Purdue and Indiana rivalry by beat writer Terry Hutchenson. He specifically talked about the Crossroad Classic and the problems it would create for both schools.

"“If you did that, it wouldn’t completely shore up the problem. Let’s say the one play that year is that Purdue comes to Bloomington, and then the return game is at Bankers Life in front of three-quarters Hoosier fans, I would think Purdue wouldn’t think that was really a balanced schedule. I just think it’s an imperfect solution.” – Fred Glass, Indiana University Athletic Director"

Valid points made by Glass. The fact that Bankers Life Fieldhouse would create a bit of an unfair advantage for Indiana is a main concern. It brings to mind the two recent losses that Indiana has seen with seats filled by 90% of Hoosier fans. The Hoosiers lost to Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament in 2016, which was held on that very same court.

Indiana also suffered their loss to Fort Wayne in front of nearly an entire Hoosier based crowd. These games obviously are not enough to support to change the minds of Purdue officials.

Hutchenson also asked Glass about possible solutions to getting the rivalry back into the national spotlight. The response seemed hopeful about the Big Ten entertaining the idea of sustaining this rivalry.

"“They’re open and they’re very interested in what the members are concerned about, but it’s already an unbelievable process to try and get the Big Ten basketball schedule done with all the parameters to get done. You can only have so many away games in a row, and you have to have so many days of rest and some of these venues are multi-purpose so you have to factor in that.” – Fred Glass, Indiana University Athletic Director"

It makes for interesting conversation hours before the four major schools set to play in Indianapolis. Can the Big Ten find a way to get both of these schools the opportunity to play twice a year?

CNHI Purdue beat writer Mike DeFabo asked Purdue Athletic Director Mike Bobinski what his thoughts were on the idea of lifting the intensity of the rivalry to twice a year. Even Bobinski seems to be on board with the idea.

"“We would be for that… I’m sure Fred and I can have more conversation on that, and we can see what the possibilities might be. That would certainly make sense to rise to that level where we would play twice a year.” – Mike Bobinski, Purdue University Athletic Director"

All we can do is hope that the Big Ten Conference can find a way to secure the century old rivalry. Make the Indiana and Purdue rivalry your most talked about college basketball match up. Heighten the expectations to the college football equivalent of Michigan and Ohio State.

The only hope is both teams match up in a future Big Ten Conference Tournament game. NCAA Tournament match up is also even less likely than one in the Big Ten Tournament. For now, we will use the once a year match up to hold year long bragging rights.

Crossroad Classic 2016 schedule:

No. 21 Notre Dame vs. No. 15 Purdue, 3pm ET – The Big Ten Network

No. 18 Butler vs. No 9 Indiana, 5pm ET – The Big Ten Network