As Travis notes, many IU and Purdue fans long for the days of the Knight-Keady showdowns, and a big reason for that is because of how competitive both programs were during that era. On the other hand, even if Tom Crean and Matt Painter end up in the top ten perennially, I don’t think anything ever will quite recapture what it was like when Knight and Keady were in their primes. This is no slight against Crean or Painter, but what made Knight v. Keady something to behold is the quality of the teams combined with their unique personalities.
Certainly, both Crean and Painter are intense guys. But it’s a different era in college basketball. No matter how heated things get in this series, can you imagine either one of them doing this?
As for whether Knight or Keady holds head to head lead? Well, I really don't care. As Travis notes, on the court, Keady holds a 21-20 lead. On the other hand, Purdue officially has forfeited the 1996 game, because Luther Clay, a player who was paid thousands of dollars by a Purdue booster in a sham loan scheme orchestrated by Keady's top recruiting assistant, later was ruled ineligible. Given how much Purdue fans have hassled IU about Sampson's misdeeds, I think it's funny how they gloss over the serious wrongdoing discovered in Keady's program and the "why" of Luther Clay's ineligibility. Still, IU's official records show it as a Purdue win, and so do Purdue's, so they can have it. As competitive as they were head to head, Knight's legacy dwarfs that of Keady in wins, winning percentage, NCAA championships, Final Four appearances, NCAA Tournament appearances, Big Ten championships, you name it. Knight is an all-time great. Keady is an all-time Purdue great.
While I don't think the feel of the Knight-Keady rivalry will ever return, I do believe that both programs are in a strong position to make the 2010s comparable to the 1980s and 1990s. Purdue, obviously, is in great shape and the Boilermakers are contending for the Big Ten title for the fourth consecutive year. On the other hand, Painter hasn't yet produced a blockbuster class to match the current seniors. IU is a long way away on the court, but this young team is showing signs of improvement, and the talent in the pipeline, while dismissed by Purdue fans, is something to consider. I think that it's a tough pill for many Purdue fans to swallow. Last summer, when IU's recruiting was stagnant and the Boilermakers were a consensus top 5 team and expected championship contender, I think many Purdue fans were daring to dream of a great realignment, an opportunity for Purdue to win a championship and to emerge as the power in the state. While Purdue still has a very good team, the injury to Robbie Hummel and Tom Crean's recruiting haul have done some damage to that expectation. I think we will see a competitive series sooner rather than later.