Monday, December 17, 2012
Scrolled across the Bankers Life Fieldhouse concourse is this sentiment: "In 49 states it's just basketball, but this is Indiana..." There seems to be no better marriage between sport and region than that of basketball and Indiana. This weekend, the 2012 Close the Gap Crossroads Classic brought together four historically prominent programs from the basketball-obsessed state of Indiana.
Bulter and Indiana met in the first matchup of the day, a game that featured the #1-ranked Hoosiers and the ever-lovable Bulldogs of Butler. While Indiana has been rebuilding, the Bulldogs have been to two of the last three National Championships. The second game featured a young Purdue Boilermaker squad and an experienced Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The basketball, as should be expected in the state that produced the movie "Hoosiers," was excellent. However, we were just as concerned with the social media marketing tactics of the teams involved. Let's see how the games stacked up.
Game: Indiana vs. Butler
Hardwood winner: "The little engine that could" did it again, winning with its back against the wall in a game where nobody gave them a chance. Sophomore Alex Barlow hit a basket in overtime to give the Bulldogs their final two-point advantage in a thriller, 88-86.
Twitter winner: The primetime Saturday afternoon time slot, #1-ranked Hoosiers, "oh-so-familiar" underdawgs, and back-and-forth scoring gave this game more than enough drama to evoke a Twitter frenzy.
Indiana's Twitter account has nearly double the follwers of Butler's, but that's expected when comparing the large state school to the small private school. Indiana has seen extreme success with their simple and succinct hashtag. #IUBB. Butler, on the other hand, does not seem to promote the #GoDawgs hashtag as much as they could. This game also featured the most popular individuals on Twitter of the two games. Indiana big-man Cody Zeller, who many view as the best player in the country, led all players with 43,000+ followers. Rotnei Clarke, the Butler sharp-shooter, had the most followers of any Butler player with 4,600+. Both coaches are also active on Twitter. Tom Crean has almost 100,000 followers while Butler head coach Brad Stevens has his own following of 26,000+. Which brings us to the question... is Twitter an individual or team sport?
That question is better left for its own blog post. We can, however, agree that Twitter turned into a spectator sport on Saturday. With the drama and underdawgs giving the Hoosiers their first loss, Butler won the battle on the hardwood. However, on the court of Twitter, it is hard to overcome the individual superstars that the Hoosiers have. Owning Klout scores of 65 and 81 respectively, Zeller and Crean make the Hoosiers an overwhelming favorite on Twitter.
IU Tweet: After a tough loss, it would be easy for the IU student section to turn to Twitter to angrily vent. They did just the opposite and gave all the credit to their opponents. See, we can all be friends on Twitter...
Butler Tweet: ...or maybe not. Kudos to Butler for having their mascot on Twitter. Obviously the puppy paws aren't responsible for actually typing this but it's fun to imagine the personality behind the wrinkly representative of Butler.
Game: Notre Dame vs. Purdue
Hardwood winner: What the first game had in drama, the second one lacked. The more experienced Notre Dame team took control early and never looked back. Irish beat the Boilermakers 81-68.
Twitter winner: In a unique way, this game re-emphasized the idea that content is king. The first game's "content" featured two nationally-recognized programs and the top-ranked team in the nation. This game's "content" featured a team that prides itself on an un-exciting offense and a team trying to re-create its identity. Twitter's lack of enthusiasm aptly reflected the content of these games. In all games though, there is a winner and a loser.
The Boilermakers have a larger following, while the Irish hold a three-point edge with their Klout score. Purdue's senior DJ Byrd has the most followers (6,500+) of any player in game two while Notre Dame's head coach, Mike Brey, has nearly 4,000 more followers than the inactive Coach Matt Painter for Purdue. Interestingly, Coach Painter also implements a Twitter ban for his players in-season which means his players can’t tweet during the season.
During the game, both schools tweeted exactly eight times. This Twitter matchup was close but the edge has to go to the Boilermakers who do a better job of activating their fans in-game. #BoilerUp had more tweets than #GoIrish and some of the #GoIrish tweets were football-focused. Can we blame them? Their team is preparing to play Alabama in the National Championship game. While the Irish may still be focused on football, the Boilermakers turned their focus to basketball on Saturday and actively participated in the arena of Twitter.
Purdue Tweet: For the most part, Purdue fans remained positive with their young team. Understanding that youth, the Purdue faithful are looking forward to future success.
Notre Dame Tweet: The real winner of the day may have been the event itself as Coach Mike Brey was quoted saying during his post-game press conference.
Bonus Tweet: It's not basketball in Indiana until Coach Norman Dale of "Hoosiers" lore has weighed in. On Saturday, he (or at least his fictitious Twitter account) did just that.
While Dr. James Naismith never envisioned Twitter being so irrevocably involved in the game he created, it has become just that. Twitter allows the ability to get involved in the live events we follow so adamantly. We gather together as a community and exchange in conversation in a way that has never been possible before. As the saying goes, "In 49 states it's just basketball, but this is Indiana...and occasionally, we can rule Twitter."
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