We've been talking about the possibility of this for a while, but IT'S HAPPENING RIGHT NOW. Okay, not really. It's not going to actually happen until December. But change is coming to the in-state basketball scheduling practices for all four major Iowa schools (Iowa, Iowa State, Drake, Northern Iowa). That change? The Big Four Classic on December 15.
Let's sort this out Q&A style:
I'm confused -- how is this going to change Iowa's schedule?
Instead of playing three games against Iowa State, UNI, and Drake, Iowa will now just play two games against those teams: Iowa State (every year) and Drake (every odd-numbered year) or UNI (every even-numbered year). Ultimately, it also frees up a non-conference game for Iowa (and Iowa State and UNI and Drake) to play someone else. Who will that mystery opponent be? We'll have to wait and see, but Iowa now has more scheduling flexibility, which is a positive.
Where are the games going to be?
The Iowa-Iowa State games will be in Ames or Iowa City, the same as they've always been. The games against UNI and Drake will be played at the Wells Fargo Center in Des Moines in a double-header format. Times are obviously TBD, but this year Iowa State could play Drake in the early game (say, 3pm CT) and Iowa could play UNI in the "late" game (say, 6pm CT).
So no more games in at the McLeod Center or the Knapp Center?
So is this a tournament?
Alas... nope. It can't really be a tournament if there's no winner, you know?
Is there a sponsor?
Not yet, but rest assured: corporate whoredom will be in place by December.
What about a trophy? We need to play for unsightly bric-a-brac.
Sorry, nothing announced yet. And it would be kind of hard to award a trophy in a format that doesn't have one final winner. That said, if Iowa Corn wins the title sponsorship, feel free to bet the farm on this lovely piece of art worming its way into the proceedings somehow.
Is this as good as the idea Patrick proposed last December?
Not really, because that idea was a tournament, which would definitely be more fun than this neutral site double-header. But it's still an exciting development, so thumbs up to the athletic directors of all four schools for getting it done.
NOTE: Friend of the Pants Brendan Stiles has a few more deets on the Big Four Classic available over yonder.