A friend who happened to be an IU fan once asked me, “Hey, why is Mackey Arena so much better than Assembly Hall?”
“You guys don’t have all those championship banners that get in the way.”
I guess my response of “I can watch good basketball teams play in Mackey” wasn’t quite the answer he was looking for, even though mine worked just as well, if not better.
But IU’s rich legacy of winning decades ago will continue to live on as fans feel that having a good team in the past matters more than having a good team this year.
Essentially, IU has become the grandfather who used to be “the best high school quarterback on this side of the Mississippi.” Sure, back in the day that might have been true, but what’s he doing now? Not a whole lot. Just running his mouth about it. Maybe someday in the future he’ll return to greatness. Heck, Favre is doing it.
Yes, I’m biased. I’m a Purdue student, what would you expect? But IU can learn a lesson from the grandfather who claims to be the Johnny Unitas of the 1940s: what really needs to be focused on is the present.
And what matters right now is focusing on the ever-present in-state rivalry happening this week as IU takes on Purdue at Assembly Hall.
When Purdue heads to Bloomington Thursday to take on the Hoosiers of Indiana University, it will be the closest thing to a civil war the state of Indiana will see unless half the state decides to renounce corn, Indy car racing, and John Mellencamp.
We can pretend for a second, though, that I am not a Purdue student. Let us pretend I am a completely unbiased person from a thousand miles away who doesn’t care about college basketball in Indiana.
My prediction then? Purdue will tear IU to shreds.
And remember, that is a completely unbiased prediction.
Indiana did successfully beat Pittsburgh, who beat Syracuse, who is ranked in the top five. So by that logic, Indiana should be ranked pretty high. Minus the fact IU has yet to prove themselves in any other way by one (I’m going to go out on a limb here) fluke win.
IU does have a chance to prove me wrong though, and I pray they do. I hate to be also considered being a Hoosier just because I live in this great state because people then associate me with IU, which is associating me with bad basketball. They need to be put back on the map somehow, and don’t get me wrong, I hope they do.
Most people think I hate IU. Well, you’re right. Do I respect IU? With the utmost respect.
No one can deny IU has undoubtedly one of the richest traditions of basketball. And all I will hear from others reading this article is: “Oh, talk to me when Purdue gets a few banners hanging up” and “Oh, talk to me when Purdue has a few undefeated seasons.”
I couldn’t care less. This is today I’m talking about. And no one can deny that today, right now, at this very hour, Purdue has a better team than Indiana.
This is a statement that will be proved in Bloomington this Thursday.
I’ve been pretty biased in my statements, partially because I am a student of the greatest university in the United States. However, it does seem blatantly obvious otherwise that this is Purdue’s year to take advantage of the advantages they have.
Tom Crean came into this year with a predominantly young team, while Matt Painter has had basically the same core lineup since the 2007-08 season. Especially with this season, where Purdue has proven that their experience is valuable, the youth of IU will suffer against the seasoned vets the Boilermakers have.
It has seemed to be a trend in recent years: Both teams being on an up-and-down, from IU’s championship run in 2002, to having Eric Gordon leading the team, only to let them down by the ever popular one-and-done, to the untimely unsuccessful season they seem to be suffering this year.
Same goes for the Boilermakers. After starting to go downhill as Gene Keady left the team after the 2005 season, Purdue seems to be on a rise following a Sweet 16 bid last year and into a top-10 ranking this year.
So with this, it comes down to Thursday —the young and inexperienced Hoosiers vs. the veteran-laden Boilermakers. Purdue has proven this year that they can hang with and beat the big boys; IU has not. The records of these teams reflect the type of team and the quality of play each team has brought to the table this year thus far.
And as the records show, Purdue is the better team and will be the better team Thursday night in their first battle against the Hoosiers this year.
My man for this game is Lewis Jackson. Back from injury, look for the little man to do some big damage against the Hoosiers.
Prediction: Purdue 74, IU 55