Four on the floor12/16/2015
This Saturday, Wells Fargo Arena will once again be the centerpiece of Iowa hoops fans’ attention when the men’s basketball teams from Iowa, Iowa State, the University of Northern Iowa and Drake University gather at Wells Fargo Arena to face off in the annual grudge match known at the Hy-Vee Big Four Classic.
And while there will be no actual crowning of a “state champion” per se, the teams, their coaches and their fans want nothing more than to leave the arena with a win, and more importantly, bragging rights.
The afternoon begins with the Fran McCaffery-led Iowa Hawkeyes taking on Drake (9-22 in 2014-15) beginning at 3:30 p.m. Iowa qualified for the NCAA Tournament last season, finishing with a 22-12 mark. The No. 2-ranked Iowa State Cyclones, another NCAA Tournament qualifier, will feature a number of key returners from last season’s 25-9 squad that captured its second consecutive Big 12 Tournament championship. The Cyclones face Northern Iowa, which also qualified for the NCAA Tournament a year ago and finished with a 31-4 mark, at 6 p.m. A ticket to the event gets spectators into both contests, said Adam Flack, regional marketing director at the Iowa Events Center, giving attendees a one-time-per-year shot at seeing some of the finest basketball players in the state gather in the same place for an afternoon of hoops.
“This is an opportunity for fans of any of the four schools to see all four of them on the same night with two very competitive basketball games,” Flack said. “The overall atmosphere of the event has grown, and more people are staying in their seats for both games, which creates a tournament-style atmosphere where fans from each school, who appreciate good basketball, can watch the other teams in one location.”What was initially thought of as somewhat of a gimmick has turned into a full-blown “must-see” Saturday in early December. The brainchild of the athletic departments of the four schools, the event has grown from an attendance of 13,180 fans in 2012, to 14,512 in 2013, and finally a sellout of 15,124 last season. Flack said he anticipates this year’s event will be a sellout as well.
This year is the fourth of the original four-year contract, but the schools signed a two-year extension in December 2014 to continue the event through 2017. The extension means the Hy-Vee Big Four Classic will be staged on Dec. 17, 2016, with Iowa playing UNI and Iowa State playing Drake, and again on Dec. 16, 2017, with Drake playing Iowa and UNI playing Iowa State.
Flack said the participating schools and the arena aren’t resting on their laurels in providing a complete entertainment experience for attendees. This year will mark the first in which there will be pre-game festivities.
“The schools came together to plan and host a large pre-event spirit rally in the convention center,” Flack said. “All four schools are collaborating to bring fans one large, shared event. We’ll offer cash bars with snacks and appetizers provided while supplies last. There will be music by DJ Dave Gallagher, giveaways and pep rallies with each school’s band and cheer squad.”
Tickets — should they still be available — can be purchased at the Wells Fargo Arena Box Office, www.Hy-VeeTix.com, 844-55-HYVEE or any Des Moines or Ames Hy-Vee Stores. CV
Hy-Vee Big Four Classic
Saturday, Dec. 19
Wells Fargo Arena
Iowa vs. Drake, 3:30 p.m.
Iowa State vs. UNI, 6 p.m.