IU Insider Blog: The Rivalry game

This will be the second year in a row that the Kentucky and Indiana series has not been played. Tom Crean has said when asked about it in the past "That ship has sailed.'' But what about picking up a new rivalry game in its place? The news that IU will play Louisville in 2014 got me thinking about this topic again.

The news Wednesday that Indiana and Louisville will meet in the 2014 Jimmy V Classic got me thinking of a topic that seems to always come up about this time of the year.

When will Indiana replace the long time series it had against Kentucky? Or is that even a priority?

I'm not sure if it will happen. There doesn't seem to be a real sense of urgency to add another marquee matchup to the schedule.

I'm sure the thinking is that currently the Hoosiers always play in an exempt event each season. This year, for example, IU will play in the 2K Sports Classic against the University of Washington on Nov. 21 in Madison Square Garden. The next day the Hoosiers will face either Boston College or Connecticut.

IU also always gets a big name opponent in the annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge. This year the Hoosiers will face the team that knocked them out of last year's NCAA Tourney in the Sweet Sixteen when they travel to play at Syracuse.

And IU is always guaranteed to play either Notre Dame or Butler in the Crossroads Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. And next season, they've agreed to play in the Jimmy V Classic and play Louisville, too.

Around that schedule will be sprinkled a good number of games against lesser competition to give the Hoosiers confidence and some diversity playing a lot of different styles heading into the Big Ten season. And conventional wisdom is that when playing a rigorous Big Ten schedule you will always play enough quality teams so that your RPI remains high enough to be considered for an NCAA Tournament berth.

There's another factor that comes into play in scheduling, too. That's a coaching staff philosophy that it wants to play at least 17 home games per season in the friendly confines of Assembly Hall. And why wouldn't the Hoosiers want to do that? Indiana has been very difficult to beat at home and has one of the craziest fan atmospheres in the country. You know you're going to get nine Big Ten home games so the idea is to get at least eight more in the non-conference season.

The last two seasons Indiana has had 19 home games. Two years ago, the Hoosiers were 18-1 at home. Last season they were 17-2. So is it any real surprise that Tom Crean and his staff want to make sure they get a good number of games in that building? Of course not.

This still doesn't sway the fan base from wishing for another rivalry contract. If not Kentucky, then many have always felt that Louisville would be a good fit. The schools are very close in proximity and it would be another Border War similar to the IU-Kentucky series.

Notre Dame? Indiana had a long series with the Irish that was discontinued during the Mike Davis era. But with the Crossroads Classic in full bloom the two teams get to play each other every other year on a neutral site. It's still not a home-and-home match up that is part of the season ticket package but at least the teams still get to play.

Kansas? It's another school that always gets mentioned but I haven't heard a lot of movement on that front. UCLA? With Steve Alford there you would think this would be the time that a series between the two perennial college basketball powerhouses could take place but for now that's in the wishing stage, too.

My guess is that as long as the three current pieces of furniture on the schedule remain in place (Exempt event, ACC/Big Ten and the Crossroads Classic) that there won't be another series added. Of course that could change. But I could see Indiana playing more one-game events such as the Jimmy V Classic instead of carrying on an annual series.

As always, what do you think? If IU could put together a new series in hoops, who would you like to see the Hoosiers play?

Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/foxsportshutch

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