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The Big Four looks cool, but does it benefit all four Iowa schools?

Apr 12, 2012, 10:27 PM EDT

NIT N Iowa Drexel Basketball

College basketball fans in the state of Iowa will get their wish on December 15, as the state’s four Division I schools will take part in a doubleheader at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines according to the Des Moines Register.

Iowa will take on Northern Iowa and Iowa State battles Drake in this season’s event, which will be held for four seasons.

The 2012 match-ups will be repeated in 2014, with Iowa/Drake and Iowa State/UNI being the games in 2013 and 2015.

“To be honest with you, with the Big Four, it doesn’t get any bigger than this,” said Chris Connolly, general manager of the Iowa Events Center. “I think everybody agrees that it will be a cool event. We expect it to sell very well, if not sell out, every year.”

But here’s the thing: while Iowa and Iowa State continue their home-and-home series (Drake and UNI are both in the Missouri Valley so of course they’ll still play), this event replaces the series that the MVC schools had with Iowa and Iowa State.

According to the article Iowa athletic director Gary Barda was the one who got things in motion for the Big Four, and Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard is also looking forward to it.

However the administrators at Drake and Northern Iowa, both of whom would rather continue their home-and-home arrangements, seem to feel as if not accepting this idea would mean no more games against Iowa or Iowa State at all.

“This is our only alternative to play them, and continue our relationship. Therefore we are looking forward to making this a great event for the state of Iowa, Drake fans and certainly Drake student-athletes,” said Drake AD Sandy Hatfield Clubb.

“There’s a lot of potential for this to become a great event. So we’re diving in head-first. It highlights Drake in a very positive way.”

An event like this isn’t unheard of in college basketball, with the Philadelphia Big 5 (played on home courts now) being a staple for more than 50 years and the four ACC schools in North Carolina holding a similar event from 1971 to 1981.

But while the opportunity to have all four Iowa schools in one building is an entertaining one, it also seems to mean that Drake and Northern Iowa lose the chance to host Iowa or Iowa State every year.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

  1. kansacity88 - Apr 13, 2012 at 10:38 AM

    Didn’t a few schools in New York do something like that? That would be great for the state of Illinois with all the D1 schools they have.

  2. creek0512 - Apr 13, 2012 at 3:51 PM

    Indiana, Purdue, Notre Dame & Butler did this last year in Indianapolis and ESPN televised both games. They will play again this year with the matchups rotating. That’s probably where they got the idea.

  3. packstack - Apr 13, 2012 at 4:43 PM

    The real deal here is that Iowa and State have been getting beaten pretty regularly by BOTH Drake and UNI – at home and on the road, the last several years, so they’re looking to replace them on the non-conf sked with other (read: lesser) teams.

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