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Why Indiana Should Always Play Butler

It's time to start a new annual rivalry.

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Almost exactly two years ago, AJ wrote a column about why Indiana should never play Butler, and I agree with every point he made. It gives a team with a "small-time" perception a seat at the big kids table and all the advantages therein.

That was the state of affairs in 2012, but the game done changed.

AJ even addressed a caveat that would grant a reversal of his opinion on any annual rivalry with our friends in Indianapolis:

If Butler were to make a move and join the new Catholic 7 in an all basketball conference then I would immediately approve (like I have any say) of an IU-Butler annual series on the spot. Why? Because joining that conference would immediately give them the legitimacy that they still lack in the nation's minds.

For those who are unaware / living in caves, that is exactly what happened. The Catholic 7 eventually morphed into the new Big East and added Butler along with Creigton and Xavier to create a great basketball conference that has legitimized Butler in the public's eye long after it should have happened. It's not fair, but Butler was never going to shed the "underdog" label as long as they remained in the Atlantic 10 or the Horizon League. With the Big East #brand and their continued success on the court, their emergence is nearly complete.

Which is why Indiana should be playing them every year.

The Crossroads Classic is now in place for the next hundred years (roughly) which takes care of the even years for the series, but the odd years should be campus games. Butler came to Assembly Hall in 2011 before playing in the CC in 2012 and the teams did not play last year. Why not play a true road game at Hinkle Fieldhouse in 2015? The atmosphere will be incredible, as it's one of the best small arenas in the country. It would be a great challenge in the early season for the Hoosiers, and I don't imagine many fans will mind sacrificing a home date to schools like Grand Canyon for the opportunity. Those cupcake games are now drawing less and less fans that physically attend, as we see on Twitter with each tip-off, so the only loss would be a financial one, which I assume Indiana can bear.

The best rivalries typically contain two things: proximity and parity. And being only 55 miles away from Bloomington while also knocking off Indiana in 2012 and generally being a program on the rise gives Butler both. One win does not make teams even, but already having that notch in their belt adds to Butler's legitimacy, as that was one of the best Indiana teams in recent memory and that loss stung something fierce, at least personally. I've been waiting for another shot at the Bulldogs for some time, and these shots should be happening annually. I mean this in the most loving and respectful way possible: but I could definitely see myself HATING Butler. The "aw shucks" mentality, the lack of star power but still succeeding, small-time private school taking on big traditional public university- GOD don't you just want to beat the pulp out of those guys?

Because that's the third thing a rivalry needs: pure, unadulterated HAAAAAAAAAATE.

The best rivalries comprise two teams that hate each other. Indiana / Purdue, OSU / Michigan, FSU / Miami- those teams hate each other and they're all in each other's backyards. You've got neighbors who root for the other guys, coworkers who make pride bets on the game. Butler and Indiana alumni currently share the state under some sort of uneasy truce, it's time to mix things up and start throwing stuff at each other.

Back in 2012, it didn't make sense from a basketball perspective because Butler didn't have the (deserved) legitimacy of a quality opponent, but that's changing for the better in 2014. It adds a legitimate opponent to the schedule and a rare true road game every now and then as well. It's good for Indiana, both the school and the state as a whole, that this game happens every year. Don't you agree?