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Monday, May 2, 2016

Crossroads Classic: Let's do this again

Monday, December 19, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS -- Following the inaugural Crossroads Classic at Conseco Fieldhouse Saturday, Notre Dame coach Mike Brey sounded more like a fan than a coach who'd just suffered an 11-point defeat.

"That was a great day of basketball. It was neat to be a part of it," Brey said. "I thank the athletic directors of the four schools for putting this thing together. I think it's something we need to think about continuing past next year. It was exciting for us to come down and play in this atmosphere."

Amen, Coach.

The question is, what took so long? The Crossroads Classic revives the tradition of the Hoosier Classic, which Butler coach Tony Hinkle organized in the 1940s and 1950s.

The four teams last staged the doubleheader in 1959, so the revival has been a long time coming and fans acted like it on Saturday. Even after watching their team drop a 67-65 heartbreaker to Butler, many Purdue fans hung around to watch Indiana's 69-58 win over Notre Dame.

The reason? Indiana loves good basketball. Fortunately, there is a lot of good college basketball being played right now in our proud state.

Seven of the state's 10 Division I men's hoops programs currently have winning records. Even with the Classic going on in Indy, the biggest win of the night probably took place in Tennessee with Indiana State's upset of No. 25 Vanderbilt.

It all begs the question, why aren't we seeing more of this? We don't have to expand the Classic (although ISU might have a legitimate claim to being the second-best team in the state right now), but can't we schedule some more in-state matchups?

I'd like the see the Sycamores play the Hoosiers.

How about Ball State vs. Purdue?

Would Butler-IUPUI make a fun cross-town rivalry?

And we haven't even mentioned Valparaiso or Evansville, both of which have handed Butler losses this year.

Plenty of credit should go to Butler athletic director Barry Collier, who has done as well as anyone in this matter, having played five of the other nine state schools this year. With only Valpo as a conference rival, this means Butler has actually sought out the other in-state games.

We need more of that kind of thinking.

So we, the basketball fans of Indiana, need to let our athletic directors know we want more.

You can have your IU vs. University of Maryland-Baltimore County game. Purdue vs. High Point? I don't care.

Want a cupcake? Let someone like IPFW step up to the plate against the big boys. At least I know where Fort Wayne is.

December is the season of making wishes come true. It's also the season when it's easiest to schedule non-conference games with in-state opponents.

Maybe that's not a coincidence.