September 23, 2014

Big four tournament begins new system for college basketball matchups

A new tradition for the instate college basketball begins on Saturday in Des Moines when the inaugural Hy-Vee Big Four Series is held in Wells Fargo Arena. Iowa will play UNI in the opener and that will be followed by Iowa State against Drake.

The new format means Drake and UNI will no longer host an annual home game against the Hawkeyes or Cyclones. UNI coach Ben Jacobsen says it will be a great day of basketball with all four programs in the same building. It will allow fans to watch all four teams on the same day.

Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg also says it will be an exciting day. “I think it’s good for the state, I think it’s a good setting where all four programs are there at once,” Hoiberg says. Iowa coach Fran McCaffery says doubleheaders used to be a big part of college basketball but they are more difficult to find these days.

McCaffery says the Big Four Classic is a way for fans to enjoy a full day of college basketball for a “relatively inexpensive ticket.”

It will also lead to the interruption of two longtime series. Iowa State and UNI will not meet this season and Iowa will not platy Drake for the first time since 1984.

Drake coach Mark Phelps says the format is out of their control and they are past it and he feels it will be a great event.