It’s a good idea. Or at least a good enough one. In a state that loves its college basketball perhaps more than any other, getting the state’s four top programs together for an annual summit seems like it should work. It seems like common sense.
And for the most part, it has worked. Now seven iterations deep into Morgan Burke’s idea to revive the old Hoosier Classic of days gone by, it’s provided a boost to college basketball in the state, provided another marquee non-conference game for programs involved, generated a nice chunk of cash for the universities, and provided some can’t-miss moments — some good, some bad. Alex Barlow, if you’re reading this, I hope you’re having a miserable Saturday.
Despite that, there’s a growing quorum at this blog in particular that the event’s has run its course -- and it’s probably time for Indiana to step away. “HA! HA! SCARED INDIANA FANS WANT AWAY FROM THE BIG BAD BULLDOGS,” you remark. But, no, no, not quite. As someone who watched Indiana catch a 20-some-point home L to Greg Lansing cackling at the stupidity of the situation, I promise y’all we’re not running from an in-state loss to a respectable power program.
Here’s why it’s time for Indiana to probably step away when the current agreement ends after 2021 — if not sooner.
The Crossroads Classic takes up a crucial date on the non-conference schedule. It could be used for a matchup with, yep, Kentucky.
If you hear one, it’s the most common complaint for Indiana fans about the event. Indiana’s long-standing commitment to the in-state event has already precluded the Hoosiers from playing in other big time events. That reality’s about to get even more pronounced in the future, as the Big Ten shifts to 20-game conference schedules and early December weekend conference games become more common.
It’s widely well-established from multiple sides that Tom Crean & Indiana wanted to participate in the CBS Sports Classic when the event was formed, but the event took place on the same date as the Crossroads in 2014, 2015, and 2016. The in-state event took preference. The CBS event is a week later this year, but it’d be scheduling seppuku to book the Crossroads & another high-profile event alongside Indiana’s other early-season commitments. Consider what Indiana’s already committed to in the early season schedule, next season as an example:
- Early-season Gavitt Games matchup against Big East program (annual)
- ACC/Big Ten Challenge (annual)
- Louisville series (through 2018)
- Likely two early December conference games starting in 2018 (annual)
- Jimmy V Classic in New York vs. West Virginia (2018 only)
- Crossroads Classic (annual)
None of that even ponders early-season tipoff events such as the Maui Invitational or the Battle 4 Atlantis, which Indiana would assuredly like to add back to the schedule in the future. Or Archie Miller’s stated desire to get a matchup with Arizona & brother Sean on the books.
Or, you know, the reinstatement of the Indiana-Kentucky rivalry. In the world of a 20-game conference schedule, a couple things have to come off the books to make that happen. If Indiana wishes to be a national program and recruit like it, you can’t schedule like a regional one.
Oh, and if that’s not reason enough, it should be a common sense choice because, well...
Other programs aren’t pulling their weight at the gate at the Crossroads
Walk in Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Crossroads Classic day, and well, it’s hard to not feel like you’re in a new & improved Assembly Hall.
I’ll admit this isn’t a scientific calculation, but it’s probably not a stretch to guess that the last few events have featured an arena that’s 75% covered in crimson. Some of that’s to be expected. But Purdue fans, for whatever reason, haven’t seemed to take to the event. Butler’s a school of 4,000 undergraduates with a decade of being a real top-flight program — and it shows. Notre Dame? You’d be hard pressed to find more than friends & family of players in the stands.
Results on the court aside, the Crossroads Classic seems to need Indiana far more than Indiana needs it.
The odd-year matchups don’t have much of a punch
Purdue-Notre Dame & Butler-Indiana have evolved into good enough matchups. There’s bad blood from a football rivalry gone stale in the first, and dramatic moments in Butler-Indiana matchups have carried the entire event. They’re good games! They could also exist outside the framework of this burdensome series.
Even with the Irish one of the best teams in America, Notre Dame-Indiana & Purdue-Butler just don’t seem to pack the same punch as the other side of the matchup. Oh, and one more thing.
GOOD GOD EVERY YEAR WE PLAY THIS THING WE HAVE TO HERE ABOUT POOR AGGRIEVED BUTLER FROM EVERYONE. STOP. STOP. STOPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP IT.
Look at this. Look at it.
Disband this event if for no other reason to eliminate Butler Guy from your TL, who continues to seek validation for a thing absolutely no one disputes.