My first game at Mackey Arena saw Purdue playing Northwestern—not the hated Hoosiers of Indiana. When the second-half chant rained down from the Paint Crew student section, it was hard not to laugh.
This rivalry is real.
I didn’t attend Purdue or Indiana, am not from the Hoosier State, and have no affiliation to either university. But you don’t have to be an Indiana native to understand what makes the in-state rivalry so special.
Purdue and Indiana are different in so many ways. The two schools are in separate ends of the state, each having their own unique prestige. But what matters most in this rivalry is basketball. It’s black and old gold vs. crimson and cream, Gene Keady vs. Bob Knight, and rich history vs. rich history.
The hatred between the two schools is genuine. Purdue fans are raised to dislike Indiana and Hoosiers are raised to hate Boilermakers. That’s just the way it works.
There’s a loyalty committed to each school. There’s no rooting for any other team (unless you’re an Indiana fan and it’s football season). A large group of Purdue students were camped out at Mackey Arena more than 24 hours the gates open.
In Indiana, basketball is everything. For this Chicago native, it’s something I’ve grown to admire since moving to West Lafayette. That’s why I’m so excited for my first Purdue-Indiana game.
This season, both Purdue and Indiana are struggling, each entering with a record of 14-10 and 4-7 in Big Ten play. The winner of Saturday’s contest earns bragging rights, and that’s about it. But in this rivalry, that’s more than enough—especially with this being the lone matchup of the season.
Mackey Arena will be packed to the rafters when it’s time for tipoff. The records get thrown out with a rivalry like this.
There’s no better Big Ten rivalry than this one. It’s in-state hate, it’s tradition, and above all, it’s basketball in the state of Indiana. The games between Purdue and Indiana are special.
For this newcomer to Indiana, the first experience of the rivalry is something I’m looking forward to. Now, I have a better understanding for the history of Purdue and Indiana.
That “IU sucks!” chant doesn’t catch me by surprise.