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An Ode to IU vs. Purdue: The Greatest Rivalry in College Basketball

There’s nothing better than a rivalry game. There’s nothing better than this rivalry.

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

I grew up in a small town in southwest Indiana. My dad went to Purdue and my mom didn’t attend college. My dad, being the great teacher and father that he is, instilled his love of Purdue in me early on. Inherent in that love, as a sports fan, is my hatred for all things IU. My small town was overwhelmingly pro-IU and anti-Purdue. That’s what always makes me chuckle about the IU fans you find online that say they don’t even care about the Purdue IU rivalry - Did you know? Purdue leads in basketball 188-89 and in football 73-41-6 - and that Kentucky is their true rival. I grew up in this rivalry and with some of the most obnoxious IU fans you’ll ever meet. Not one time did I hear them say, in person, that Kentucky was their true rival and Purdue was just another game. Not once. Yet somehow, today, if you stumble online that’s one of the first things that you’ll hear from a certain segment of IU fans (Notre Dame hats tucked gently in the pit of their arms as they reach for their reversible wind breakers). It seems like a poor defense mechanism and some desire to feel like their brand crosses over from the Big Ten into a nationwide brand. That may have been true decades ago, but it’s certainly not now.

Two times a season, for the most part, Purdue and IU face off. These are the two games that both fans look forward to each year. While some would argue that the series isn’t as good without heavyweights like Gene Keady and that asshole in the red sweater, I don’t tend to agree. Purdue has held up their end of the bargain by only having one coach since Coach Keady left while IU has had a clown car’s worth of bozos on the sideline. First there was Mike Davis fired for...reasons. Then Kelvin Sampson fired for cheating and breaking a slew of NCAA violations. That led directly to the interim tenure of our favorite internet tough guy, Dan Dakich. Then there was Tom Crean roaming the sideline adjusting his pants, leering at Ryne Smith, and thinking about us all a lot...A WHOLE LOT. Now we are in the tenure of Archie Miller who I don’t yet have strong feelings about (though it seems IU fans are starting, too). I will not make fun of his height, unlike many internet savages, as I’m only 5’6 myself (It’s true, we’ve checked the tape). WE CAN’T FIGHT GENETICS PEOPLE (you can)!

It would be easy to sit here and point out that Purdue has won six of the last seven games of the series, and that’s a very true statement, and it was very easy to say, but that’s a rather subjective way of choosing things. That’s especially true when you consider that just before those last seven games, IU won four in a row making it a 6-5 Purdue advantage over the last 11 games. In order to get a more complete look at the series though I think it’s fair to go back 10 seasons and see the results. Since the 2008-2009 season, Purdue is 11-5 against IU. That includes four seasons, 08-09, 13-14, 15-16, and 17-18 where the teams played each other just once because the world is unjust and everything is terrible. In those rare one off seasons Purdue has a 3-1 record against IU including one win in Bloomington (BLARGE!).

As we prepare for battle tomorrow afternoon against the hated Hoosiers from down south we had better be prepared for a tough game. IU has a lot of talented players on their team this season. That’s what they are though, talented players, not a cohesive unit. I don’t think they’ve quite coalesced or found their identity yet which is perfect because Purdue seems to be finally finding theirs. Were this game a month ago I would’ve definitely felt less confident and probably thought Purdue would lose. This game seems to be hitting Purdue at the perfect time. Having the game in Mackey Arena, one of the most intimidating gyms in the country (read as: best), certainly will be a huge help to this Purdue team. I’m expecting a great game and a great victory tomorrow but regardless of the outcome we can all hold true to the same universal truth. No matter the result, no matter the time of day, IU still sucks.

Boiler Up! Hail Purdue!