As the saying goes, “In 49 states it’s just basketball, but this is Indiana.” On Saturday, the Hoosier State’s love for the game will be on full display when FOX Sports Indiana broadcasts the first-ever Basketball Day in Indiana.
FOX Sports Indiana will broadcast five games — three marquee high school matchups, Butler hosting Cincinnati, and the Pacers’ 1970s Decade Game against Portland — as part of 13 continuous hours of live basketball coverage.
According to FOX Sports Indiana senior vice president and general manager Jack Donovan, the idea was inspired by Hockey Day Minnesota, a partnership between FOX Sports North and the Minnesota Wild, where they broadcast high school, college, and NHL games on the same day.
“I’ve seen that for a few years and I’ve thought ‘Basketball Day in Indiana’ just makes a whole lot of sense because the people in Indiana are as passionate about basketball as the people in Minnesota are passionate about hockey,” Donovan said.
So last spring, FOX Sports approached the Pacers and Fever with the idea. The organization was thrilled with the concept. So, too, were the IHSAA and Butler, and Basketball Day in Indiana was born.
Saturday’s coverage begins at 8:00 AM with two half-hour taped TV specials celebrating some of the great stories in Indiana high school basketball history, The Wigwam and The Milan Miracle. Then, at 9:00 AM, live coverage tips off from Georgia Street outside Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Donovan said that Georgia Street will be “the center of activity” for the day. The FOX Sports set will be outside and they’ll have large monitors so fans can watch the day’s action. They also will have a variety of activities going on outside, so fans will have a chance to do anything from shoot free throws for prizes to meet Pacers mascot Boomer and members of the Indiana Pacemates dance team.
At 10:00 AM, the basketball games will start, beginning with a high school doubleheader at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The first game is a matchup between the Carmel and Center Grove girls basketball teams. Then at noon, the Lapel and New Castle boys teams will square off.
Admission for both of those games is free and open to the public. For fans who can’t make it to The Fieldhouse, both games will air across the state on FOX Sports Indiana and will be simulcast nationally on FOX College Sports. Pacers broadcaster Pat Boylan will handle play-by-play duties for both games and will be joined by Fever TV analyst Tully Bevilaqua for the girls game and Pacers TV analyst Eddie Gill for the boys game.
Then at 2:00 PM, the action will shift over to Southport High School for a must-see meeting between the two top-ranked boys teams in Class 4A. New Albany, ranked first in this week’s AP poll, will take on second-ranked North Central. Like the games at The Fieldhouse, this game will also air statewide on FOX Sports Indiana with a national simulcast on FOX College Sports.
The Pacers TV broadcast duo of Chris Denari and Quinn Buckner will call the game at Southport. Despite a grueling travel schedule, both Denari and Buckner jumped at the opportunity to participate in this statewide celebration of basketball. They will broadcast the Pacers’ 8:00 PM game on Friday night in Dallas — the final stop on a five-game Western Conference road trip — before flying back to Indianapolis, where they’ll call the game at Southport at 2:00 PM and then the Pacers game at 7:00 PM. All told, Denari and Buckner will call three games at three different locations in less than 24 hours.
Following the conclusion of the New Albany-North Central game, live coverage will resume from Georgia Street until 4:30 PM, when Butler hosts Cincinnati in a top-25 showdown at Hinkle Fieldhouse. The Bulldogs are currently ranked 16th in the AP poll, while the visiting Bearcats are 22nd. In addition to airing statewide on FOX Sports Indiana, the Butler game will also air nationally on FS1.
Finally, at 6:30 PM, the Pacers Live pregame show will air from Bankers Life Fieldhouse, leading into the Pacers-Trail Blazers game at 7:00 PM. As part of the Pacers’ 50th season celebration, Saturday’s game is a Decade Game, and they’ll be honoring the Pacers greats from the 1970s. All fans in attendance will receive a bobblehead of either Hall of Famer Mel Daniels or Pacers legend George McGinnis.
Rather fittingly for Basketball Day in Indiana, McGinnis is the perfect embodiment of the state’s rich basketball history, having starred in Indiana at the high school, college, and professional levels. McGinnis was Mr. Basketball in 1969 out of Washington High School, was an All-American at Indiana University in 1971, and starred for the Pacers in both the ABA and NBA. He was named MVP of the 1973 ABA Finals and shared regular season MVP honors with Julius Erving in 1974-75.
Coverage will conclude with the Pacers Live postgame show from Bankers Life Fieldhouse, followed immediately by a Basketball Day in Indiana Live wrap-up show on Georgia Street, putting a bow on a busy day of basketball across the state.
The hope is that Basketball Day in Indiana, like Hockey Day Minnesota, becomes a yearly tradition.
“The big vision is an annual event, just a celebration of basketball in Indiana,” Donovan said.
Basketball fans across the state can participate by attending the games, joining the live broadcast on Georgia Street, watching on FOX Sports Indiana or posting on social media with #BasketballDayIndiana. Please note that admission is free for the 10:00 AM and 12:00 PM high school games at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.