"Area college basketball teams undefeated at home
Indianapolis has only witnessed one loss among all of its endeared men’s college basketball programs. Butler, IUPUI and UIndy are each undefeated on their home courts; the only loss inside of city limits came when Marian fell to Huntington. Adding to the intrastate success, IU and Purdue have also been perfect at home, in thanks largely to a fistfull of homegrown Indiana high school graduates.
Butler’s perfect overall record was spoiled by defending Horizon League champions Wright State last week, but a 20 point win over the colossal Buckeyes of OSU earlier this month was enough to sustain a top 20 national ranking. The victory was the first time in the history of basketball that a ranked team has “upset” an unranked team (a section of students stormed the court following the buzzer). The tenacity of freshman Matt Howard from Connersville has been a welcome surprise for the Bulldogs. Like his teammates, Howard is undersized for his position, but compensates with opportunistic fire. When A.J. Graves has struggled, Howard has been there to pick up the pieces and hoist the entire weight of Butler basketball squarely upon his large, lumbering shoulders.
IUPUI, in its lone high-profile match-up of the season (at least until March), defended the Colts’ honor by handily knocking off UMass. New England may have a World Series, the (technically) undefeated Patriots and “The Big Three,” but George Hill and his 30-point highlight reel delivered a small measure of revenge for the Indy sports faithful through their double-digit, nationally televised victory.
Meanwhile, an hour southerly, IU is gaining national attention as a serious contender for the Final Four. Following an ugly loss to No. 17 Xavier, IU won five consecutive games, outscoring their opponents by a combined 96 points. The Hoosiers should easily coast into January with their lackluster out-of-conference schedule, and take a modest step or two upward in the national polls. North Central graduate Eric Gordon has been averaging 24 points, and after each game, Bloomington collectively lets out an audible sigh of relief that this monster from 86th Street decided to stay home in Indiana.
The Hoosiers' rivals from Lafayette upset No. 20 Louisville on Saturday at Conseco Fieldhouse, and appear to be a major contender in the Big 10. Purdue has five freshmen on their roster, and each one is an Indiana native — an impressive rarity among big-state schools.
It has become apparent after two months of basketball that Indiana is back where it should be: as the heart of basketball country. Each athlete mentioned above graduated from a Hoosier high school. George Hill averaged 36 points a game at Broad Ripple, A.J. Graves shot the lights out at White River Valley and Eric Gordon became the nation’s top shooting guard at North Central, while Matt Howard was breaking virtually every scoring record on file at Connersville. With nearly perfect intra-city success and homegrown talent shining on the national stage, Indianapolis has a reason beyond Reggie to fall in love with basketball all over again.