An Indiana Fan rooting for Purdue? Not Going to Happen

I don't care that they're from Indiana and the Big Ten. This Hoosier alum is not lining up behind the Boilers for The Big Dance.

Utah State vs. Purdue in the NCAA tournament
Utah State vs. Purdue in the NCAA tournament / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages
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I’m seeing more and more social media posts on Indiana University fan sites (on Facebook) with people saying they’re rooting for Purdue to win the men’s national basketball championship.

These people say things like, “Wouldn’t you rather have another school from Indiana go all the way than a school from Connecticut, Alabama, or North Carolina?”

Not really

In a word — NO!

I was a student at IU Bloomington in the middle to late 1970s, when the Hoosiers were about as dominant as you could get — going 31-1 in 1974-1975 and 32-0 in 1975-1976, when we became the last team to go undefeated and win the men's NCAA championship.

Despite the Hoosiers’ strength behind Quinn Buckner, Scott May, Kent Benson, Bobby Wilkerson and Tom Abernethy, we had several barnburners against the Boilermakers in that era.

For example, IU beat Purdue 71-67 at home during that memorable undefeated season, and 74-71 in West Lafayette. One or two referee calls or a rebound bouncing in another direction could have produced a different outcome.

Knight, Keady, Woodson, and Painter

Hoosiers vs. Boilers, Bob Knight vs. Gene Keady. You could cut the intensity with a knife when those two legends were coaching.

There were no wishy-washy feelings among the faithful. Fans from these two schools detested the sports teams from the other school.

It wasn’t unusual for pushing, shoving and even punches to break out if IU and Purdue fans were a bit too close to each other.

Jack, the donkey

Coach Knight once opened his weekly TV show  (in 1981) by introducing a donkey named “Jack.” The donkey wore a Purdue hat. Jack took the place of Purdue Athletic Director George King, who declined an invitation to appear on the show.

Coach Knight also reflected on "the Purdue mentality" after the Boilers' Roosevelt Barnes slapped the Hoosiers' Isiah Thomas.

So I have always considered Purdue the Hoosiers’ most bitter rival — and nobody else comes close.

And now we have Head Coaches Matt Painter and Mike Woodson, who played for Coach Keady and Coach Knight. So that classic era is still alive.

The Boilers may be winning, but ...

Do you think I’m going to support the Boilers just because they’re from Indiana, now that they’ve made it into the NCAA tournament’s Final Four?

Would a rabid Red Sox fan root for the Yankees when the Bostonians didn’t make the postseason, just because they play in the same division? Would a Cubs fan (I’m one of those) support the St. Louis Cardinals under any circumstances?

No, no, and no. I’m hoping North Carolina State’s D.J. Burns Jr. and his teammates will neutralize Purdue’s Zach Edey, and the Wolfpack will prevail.

If not, there’s always UConn and their 7-2 center, Donovan Clingan, or Alabama, with standout shooter Mark Sears and the 6-11 Grant Nelson, waiting in the wings for the tournament's final game.

I acknowledge that Matt Painter seems like a good guy, and he did grow up an IU fan. If the Boilers go all the way, I’ll try to take solace in that. But I’m still hoping they don’t.