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My Column: Purdue and Indiana Rivalry Now The Mismatch

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This is no longer a rivalry.

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Indiana Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Author’s note: I try to be as unbiased as I can for every article I write on here, but once a year I throw away all objectivity and embrace the fact that I’m a proud Purdue alumni. This is an opinion article. That said, the opinions herein are supported by a ton of facts.

Introduction

Saturday afternoon, Purdue went into Assembly Hall and beat the Indiana Hoosiers. The final score was 74-62. That was the biggest win in Bloomington for the black and gold since 1977. It was the fourth win in a row in Assembly Hall for the Boilermakers and at the close of the game, as the Hoosier “faithful” streamed for the exits, as an ESPN graphic showed that Purdue had won 9 of the last 10 meetings, Dick Vitale said, “This isn’t a rivalry anymore, it’s a mismatch.”

The father of Indiana’s three national titles, Bob Knight, may have been in the building Saturday, but so was Indiana’s daddy—Matt Painter.

The Numbers

  • Wins since Victor Oladipo graduated: Purdue 9, Indiana 1
  • Wins in Bloomington since Victor Oladipo graduated: Purdue 5, Indiana 1
  • NCAA appearances in the Matt Painter era: Purdue 12, Indiana 7
  • Sweet 16 appearances in the Matt Painter era: Purdue 5, Indiana 3
  • Number of Big Ten titles in the Matt Painter era: Purdue 3, Indiana 2
  • Number of Big Ten titles, all-time: Purdue 24, Indiana 22
  • National Championships in my lifetime: Purdue 0, Indiana 0
  • Number of coaches fired (or forced to resign) since 1980: Indiana 5, Purdue 0
  • Number of coaches currently on the hot seat: Indiana 1, Purdue 0
  • Years since the last 6-game winning streak in the head-to-head series: Indiana 44, Purdue: currently active
  • Team honored at halftime Saturday afternoon: 1980 Indiana Hosiers
  • How the 1980 Indiana Hoosiers ended their season: Loss to Purdue in the Sweet Sixteen, 76-69
  • Coach honored at halftime Saturday afternoon: Bob Knight
  • Bob Knight’s all-time record against Gene Keady: 20-21
  • Miles separating the two schools: 100 (via US 231)
  • Miles separating the two schools, metaphorically: 1,000
  • Career winning percentage in Big Ten games: Matt Painter 63%, Archie Miller 44%
  • Expected spread for the upcoming game in Mackey Arena: Purdue -7
  • Proportion of gambling Hoosier fans who will be taking IU and the points in that game: Maybe one in five

Conclusion

Bob Knight’s appearance at halftime was the perfect metaphor for what’s happening with the Indiana program. They are a program not able to compete at the level they once did, so they place a heavy emotional weight on the past. But that past, like Coach Knight himself, is getting older every year, and despite the number of Big Ten championship teams who get honored at halftime, the current team—with a projected 12th-place finish in the Big Ten—is about as far away from a Big Ten championship as can be. The memory of the fanbase is getting fuzzy; the reputation as being among the most knowledgeable in the country is all but gone. It took an old coach with dementia to get the fans to chant “Go defense”. It was a heart-warming and heart-wrenching moment. For a brief moment, both young and old felt time and space transcend, and they understood what Indiana basketball was all about.

Then the second half began, and everyone across the country watching ESPN understood what Indiana basketball is all about these days. Losing to Purdue.

There was nobody who could better put the accomplishments of Robert Montgomery Knight in context than Dick Vitale, and with that broad perspective, he was able to look back at the past all game and see candy-stripe red. But as the broadcast closed and he looked to the future, it was all black and gold.

“This isn’t a rivalry anymore, it’s a mismatch.”

The IU-Purdue Rivalry is dead. Long live IU-Purdue Mismatch.