Indiana's Midnight Madness not at midnight

Part of the Midnight Madness charm, at least to me, has always been the fact that it happens at midnight. Students eschew the bar scene and storm the doors of their campus arena. Fans drive late into the night, often with kids in tow, to catch a glimpse of this year's team. Everyone gathers together, cheers for a few dunks, scoffs at a wacky dance number, and then gets down to the more serious business of analyzing the smallest of details in the all-important scrimmage. (That's the best part; I love the Midnight Madness scrimmage.)

The late hour only boosts this charm. People care enough about college basketball to watch a bunch of fireworks and a half-speed scrimmage at midnight on a Friday. I mean, how cool is that?

What is Midnight Madness if it's not at midnight? The Indiana Hoosiers are about to find out.

According to a release from the school, Indiana has rescheduled Hoosier Hysteria to Saturday, Oct. 15, almost a full day after most schools will host their madness festivities. The doors will open at 6:30 p.m.

Why the change? According to the school, the new time will allow more fans to attend. From the release:

For Crean, the move to Saturday night will hopefully allow many to visit Assembly Hall and Cook Hall for the first time. “One of the things that I enjoy most, is to meet families who come to a game or this event with their children and expose them to IU basketball for the first time,” said Crean. “Our hope is that we will have a lot of first time visitors, who when they experience this event with all of the long-time loyal students and fans, become Hoosier fans for life.”

Crean's theory is probably true; it's much easier to make a trip when you have all day on Saturday to get the kids packed in to the minivan. But as the Indy Star's Terry Hutchens noted today, a more cynical fan might find a different reason for the time change:

Only a cynic would suggest the change would allow top recruit Gary Harris of Hamilton Southeastern to attend the event. Harris, who also plays football at HSE, is busy on Friday nights.

Harris, a shooting guard from Indianapolis, is the No. 10-ranked player in the class of 2012. He is still weighing his collegiate options, with Indiana, Louisville, Michigan State and Purdue among his top suitors. His official visit to Indiana just so happens to be scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 15. What a coincidence!

In other words, it seems pretty likely Hoosier Hysteria's schedule change has more to do with Harris than with Crean's IU outreach efforts. But it's not like there's anything wrong with that. For one, you can bet Indiana fans -- already psyched for that loaded 2012 recruiting class -- would be remiss if IU didn't ensure Harris could witness the madness first-hand. Plus, there's nothing in the "Hoosier Hysteria" moniker that says Indiana has to host its first public practice as the clock strikes midnight. Besides, this is hardly the first "Midnight Madness" event that hasn't really been at midnight.

Some charm may be lost in the transfer. But when doing heated battle for one of the best recruits in the country, some token charm seems a reasonable price to pay.