Indiana and Purdue played each other in basketball for the first time on March 1, 1901 (yes--112 years ago today; it was a 23-19 Purdue win in Bloomington), and Sunday's game will be the 198th meeting between the two schools. After losing five in a row to Purdue over the previous three seasons, the Hoosiers, thanks to their big win in West Lafayette a month ago, find themselves in a position to sweep the season series for the first time since 2006. For a team that entered the season without any player who had ever defeated Purdue, this would be a very nice accomplishment. How would it measure up historically?
Perhaps the biggest surprise to me is that of the 196 meetings between the two schools before this season, close to half (96 games) have been part of a two game sweep by one team or the other (to be clear, I am counting only seasons in which the teams played a standard home-and-home, not seasons in which there was only one meeting). If IU wins on Sunday, then IU will have swept the regular season series 19 times. Given Purdue's comfortable lead in the overall series, it's no surprise that Purdue has 30 sweeps compared to IU's 18. A few notes:
- IU's sweeps have occurred in 1940, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1963, 1975, 1976, 1983, 1989, 1991, 1993, 2001, 2005, and 2006.
- Purdue has swept the series in 1901, 1902, 1902, 1904, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1915, 1917, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1929, 1931, 1932, 1934, 1937, 1938, 1948, 1968, 1969, 1977, 1985, 1990, 1996, 1997, 2010, and 2011.
- Much like in the overall series, Purdue's success is seriously front-loaded. Purdue recorded 20 of its two-game sweeps before IU got its first in 1940, on the way to IU's first NCAA championship. From 1940 to present, IU has swept the series 18 times compared to Purdue's 10. Incidentally, that 1940 sweep was, aside from being a milestone in and of itself, a crucial moment in IU's basketball history. Although Purdue won the Big Ten outright that year, IU was selected to represent the midwest in the 1940 Tournament (in the era before automatic bids) on the strength of its 17-3 overall record and the sweep of Purdue.
- The IU coach with the most success against Purdue was Branch McCracken. McCracken swept Purdue 9 times, including in six seasons in a row from 1949 to 1954 (IU's 13-game winning streak over Purdue in that era remains the longest run in the history of the series for either team). Bob Knight swept Purdue 6 times, but was swept 5 times. Thanks in large part to the demise of Purdue's program in the late Keady era, Mike Davis swept Purdue three times and never was swept by the Boilers.