Bradley Leeb-US PRESSWIRE
It would be nice to see Illinois get its own version of Indiana's Crossroads Classic.
Last weekend the Crossroads Classic made for some excellent college basketball viewing, and not just because that viewing included Indiana losing to a Butler team that we beat by 17 points. Though it certainly helped. No, what makes the event nice aside from the results is that it features four of the biggest programs in the state of Indiana with Butler, Purdue, Notre Dame and Indiana.
It's an idea that would be nice to see in Illinois as well.
While yesterday I highlighted Mike Thomas' thoughts about getting Illinois more exposure in Chicago, there was another tidbit to his radio interview that I didn't mention. One of the idea proposed to him by radio host Laurence Holmes would be to hold a Crossroads Classic type event in Chicago with the Illini and other state teams.
"I certainly don't think that's beyond the realm of possibility," answered Thomas when presented with the idea.
And I think it's a great idea.
Now Thomas also hedged his statement by saying that John Groce would like more home games, which I totally understand. However, we don't need to go to Maui every year, nor do we need to exclusively schedule teams like Gardner-Webb and Norfolk State for home games.
And going to Chicago for a game or two is a lot different than Hawaii.
Now while an 8-team tournament much like the Maui Invitational would be my ideal for this event, it's just not feasible. First of all, you can't have Illinois and Northwestern playing conference games in November or December. That just doesn't work. Secondly, it'd be hard to book the United Center for the three days you'd need for such a tournament.
Still, an annual event that featured the Illini, Northwestern and DePaul with Bradley, Loyola, Illinois State, Southern Illinois and Northern Illinois rotating in and out could be successful. Granted, it doesn't have quite the headline cache that the Crossroads Classic had, but that's not really the draw here.
For me it would be the opportunity to see Illinois beat other state schools -- and this is what should happen the majority of the time -- on a regular basis, letting the recruits of Chicago know that if they're going to stay in-state when they go to college, there's really only one option they should take.
I mean, that's be a lot more fun than another game against St. Francis or Chaminade.