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In Indiana, Basketball Is in a Sad State

Purdue entered this season with hopes of sending Keady to one more NCAA tournament. But the Boilermakers have lost nine of their first 13 games and are 0-3 in Big Ten play.

"I'm very frustrated," Keady said. "You work for 25 years to build a program and then after the 2000 season, nothing goes right. It's frustrating as hell. We've done a bad job recruiting the players. We're not developing players like we used to. The last five years, the players haven't gotten better. If we had gotten to the NCAA tournament last year, I would have walked away. If I had known this was going to happen this season, I would have turned it over to Matt and left. I think the kids have gotten used to losing."

Coach Mike Davis followed the legendary Bob Knight at Indiana. He was booed at a recent home game. "It's sad," Davis said. (George Widman -- AP)

_____Game of the Week_____
Game of the Week

No. 3 North Carolina at No. 4 Wake Forest, 1:30 p.m. today

This Tobacco Road thriller is the "Gone With the Wind" of college basketball: There's no sequel to this classic. Because of ACC expansion, the North Carolina schools play only once during the regular season after meeting at least twice in every season since 1922 (the Demon Deacons didn't field a team in 1944 because of World War II). If both teams are really as good as they look, there's a good chance they could meet again in the ACC tournament final at MCI Center or at the Final Four in St. Louis. The Tar Heels have played like the ACC's best team during the past month, beating Virginia Tech by 34 points, Maryland by 34 and No. 8 Georgia Tech by 22 on Wednesday night. The Demon Deacons have won nine games in a row; the Tar Heels have won 14 games in a row. The game features two of the nation's best point guards, Carolina's Raymond Felton and Wake's Chris Paul, and two of the ACC's best big men, Tar Heels junior Sean May and Demon Deacons junior Eric Williams.

_____Top Five Mid-Majors_____
Top Five Mid-Majors

1. George Washington (11-2): Colonials should cruise until a four-game stretch at the end of the month that includes games at Richmond, at home against Xavier and Dayton, and at Temple on Feb. 5.

2. Gonzaga (12-3): Zags won't walk through the West Coast Conference this year; lost at Saint Mary's (Calif.), 89-81, on Jan. 8.

3. Southern Illinois (13-3): Salukis won toughest road test in Missouri Valley Conference, winning at Creighton, 69-63, last Sunday.

4. Hawaii (10-2): The Rainbow Warriors could be eyeing 24 victories.

5. Wichita State (11-1): The Shockers' only loss was a 64-59 loss to Manhattan on Jan. 3.

_____RPI Watch_____

Temple is off to a 2-0 start in the mediocre Atlantic 10 and undoubtedly will receive an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament if it finishes with a winning record in the league. The Owls (6-6) had an RPI ranking of 19 entering this week, thanks to the second-toughest schedule in the nation. Temple's nonconference schedule included road games at Georgetown, South Carolina, Alabama and Duke, and the Owls will play at Maryland today. Temple played Auburn, Arizona State, Pennsylvania, Wake Forest and Princeton at home and played Villanova at the Palestra. Senior guard Mardy Collins is one of the most underrated players in the country, averaging 17 points and 4.3 assists and leading Division I with 3.8 steals. As usual, Temple is taking care of the basketball meticulously, averaging 9.2 turnovers.

_____Men's Basketball Basics_____
basketball Scoreboard
Area Colleges Section
Men's Basketball Section

Keady said basketball in Indiana hasn't been as exciting during the past five seasons, not since Knight left the Hoosiers. Knight declined to be interviewed for this story.

"It's not as much fun without Bobby around anymore," Keady said. "He liked to stir things up."

For more than two decades, Keady and Knight were the faces of basketball in this state. Keady, with his tanned, weathered face and comb-over hairstyle, led the Boilermakers to more than 500 victories and six Big Ten championships in the past 24 seasons. But Keady said he always felt like the red-headed stepchild when compared to Knight, who was the more popular figure in the state because of his success and unpredictable behavior.

"I never saw myself as that big of a deal in the state because I never won a national championship and never got to a Final Four," Keady said. "I always saw myself as a failure. I loved this place. I had a lot of chances to leave but never did. I guess my loyalty is my stupidity."

So today, as the Hoosiers and Boilermakers prepare to play for the 185th time, Indiana is bracing to lose yet a little more of its basketball identity.

"Growing up in Indiana, it's hard for me to imagine," Alford said. "I grew up there in the seventies and eighties and Coach Knight was Indiana basketball and Coach Keady was Purdue basketball. Things change, but it's going to be really hard to accept."

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