DES MOINES -- The state of Iowa's four NCAA Division I institutions will stage the "Big Four Classic," a men's college basketball doubleheader at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, in December in each of the next four years, the institutions and the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau announced today.
The inaugural Big Four Classic will be staged on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012, with Iowa State playing Drake and Iowa facing UNI in back-to-back games in the state of Iowa's premier special events center. Game times have not been finalized, but each contest will be televised live.
"We are proud to host these four outstanding men's college basketball teams at Wells Fargo Arena. The Big Four Classic will bring friends of the institutions and fans of their teams from across the state to Des Moines for an exciting event the entire Iowa sports community will enjoy," said Greg Edwards, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau.
This year's match-ups will be repeated in 2014. Iowa State will play UNI and Iowa will square off against Drake in 2013 and again in 2015. The four schools will alternate serving as event host. Iowa will serve as host to the inaugural event.
The announcement comes on the heels of a very successful 2011-12 season for all four schools. Each posted a winning record and advanced to postseason play last season.
The Cyclones earned an invitation to the NCAA Tournament, registered a 23-11 record and finished tied for third in the Big 12. Fred Hoiberg's squad defeated Connecticut in its first round NCAA Tournament game before losing to eventual national champion Kentucky in the South Region.
UNI and Iowa both were extended at-large invitations to the National Invitation Tournament. UNI completed its season with an overall record of 20-14 and a 9-9 mark against Missouri Valley opponents. Ben Jacobson's Panthers defeated Saint Joseph's and lost to Drexel in their NIT games.
Iowa completed its season with an overall record of 18-17 that included an 8-10 record against Big Ten opponents. Fran McCaffery's Hawkeyes defeated Dayton and lost to Oregon in their NIT games.
Drake completed its 2011-12 season with an 18-16 overall record and accepted an invitation to the CIT, where the Bulldogs defeated North Dakota before losing to Rice. Mark Phelps' Bulldogs were 9-9 against Missouri Valley opponents in 2012.
Each institution will have an equal number of game tickets to distribute, ranging in price from $25 to $70 each. Tickets will be good for admission to both games of the doubleheader and will be made available first to each institution's season ticket customers and then to other fans of their men's basketball program. Tickets not sold by the institutions will be placed on sale for the general public through the Wells Fargo Arena box office in early October.