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Jeff Eisenberg

Other basketball-rich regions should follow Indiana's lead

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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It has been decades since Indianapolis last hosted a Hoosier Classic, but it appears the state of Indiana's four marquee basketball programs are finally open to reviving the concept.

Talks between Indiana, Purdue, Butler and Notre Dame are underway to play an annual doubleheader involving the four programs each December at Conseco Fieldhouse. The four schools have not reached an agreement yet, but Indiana athletic director Fred Glass told the Indianapolis Star that he's "fairly optimistic all the details can be worked out."

Although Big Ten rivals Purdue and Indiana could never play each other in this event, it remains a terrific concept both for the fans and the teams involved. It's not hard at all to envision hoops-crazed Indiana residents packing Conseco Fieldhouse each December, especially in a year like this with Purdue a top-five program, Butler coming off a Final Four run, Indiana showing signs of improvement and Notre Dame expected to contend for an NCAA tournament berth.

The event seems like such a no-brainer that it's hard to believe we haven't seen it in so many years, yet the state of Indiana is hardly alone in its inability to pit its top teams against one-another annually. Here are three other basketball-rich regions that need to follow Indiana's lead and jump-start dormant rivalries with an annual doubleheader:

1. Maryland, Georgetown, George Washington, Virginia

Comment: Would you believe that Georgetown hasn't played a regular-season game against Maryland since an overtime classic in 1993 or George Washington since 1982? The old BB&T Classic was supposed to be built on the idea that the Hoyas and Terps would appear every year, but that failed for reasons the Washington Post attempts to explain in this story. Perhaps now would be a good time to revive the event.

2. Washington, Washington State, Gonzaga, Seattle University

Comment: It's a travesty that Gonzaga and Washington no longer play each other, so an event like this going back and forth between Spokane and Seattle could be a way of reviving that rivalry. And while Seattle University may not have the pedigree of its three in-state peers, Cameron Dollar's program is on the rise and has a good recruiting base from which to work.

3. Illinois, DePaul, Northwestern and Bradley

Comment: DePaul has played Northwestern fairly regularly recently, but the Blue Demons have not faced Illinois this decade. That's a matchup that could benefit both programs if it takes place in Chicago, especially if former Clemson coach Oliver Purnell is able to revive the DePaul program the next few years.


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