Indiana lost the basketball game, but won the ratings war.
The Hoosiers’ loss to Butler in the Crossroads Classic set a Big Ten Network ratings record for a non-conference game.
Officially, the game drew a 0.59 HH rating on the BTN’s 12 measured markets.
What exactly does that mean?
It means a lot more people watched that game than the did the old non-conference ratings record setter, which was Purdue’s loss to defending national champ Villanova. That drew a 0.41 rating.
Another big draw was Indiana’s overtime loss to Fort Wayne.
A cynic could say, a lot of people watch to see the Hoosiers and Boilers lose, but that misses the point which is people want to see IU and Purdue play.
As they should. Both are top-20 teams. Both have excellent chances to win the Big Ten title. Conference play begins Wednesday. The Hoosiers open by hosting Nebraska. The Boilers open by hosting Iowa.
In case you’ve forgotten, IU and Purdue are led by a pair of Fort Wayne guys — James Blackmon for the Hoosiers and Caleb Swanigan for the Boilers.
Yes, somebody could mention that Blackmon spent his high school senior season in Marion, but he was a Bishop Luers standout before that. He leads IU in scoring (18.5 points), three-point shooting (48.7 percent) and free throw shooting (82.8 percent). He also averages a career-high 5.4 rebounds.
That three-point shooting excellence comes while making more three-point baskets (37) and taking more beyond-the-arc attempts (81) than any other Hoosier.
The only area that needs major work is Blackmon’s assist-to-turnover ratio. He has 21 assists and 25 turnovers. At the minimum, a guard should have more assists than turnovers, and a good ratio is 2 to 1. So he has work to do.
Meanwhile, Swanigan looks like a Big Ten MVP by averaging a conference-best 12.5 rebounds and a team-high 18.3 points.