When Indiana and Purdue square off for a primetime battle Saturday night in Mackey Arena, the game will have meaning, maybe more so than at any time since Bob Knight and Gene Keady stalked their respective sidelines 2 decades ago.

It’s a rivalry renewed. Finally.

And boy, isn’t that great not only for both programs, but also for the Big Ten and college basketball? It’s a question with an obvious answer. There’s no shortage of significance Saturday in sold-out Mackey Arena:

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  • Purdue can win a share of what would be its league-leading 25th Big Ten title, with still 2 games left to win the crown outright.
  • Indiana can sweep the Boilermakers for the 1st time since 2013, after the Hoosiers won the meeting earlier this season in Bloomington.
  • The Big Ten Player of the Year might be decided, with Purdue big man Zach Edey likely holding an edge, but perhaps only slightly, against Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis.
  • Purdue needs a strong finish in the final stretch of the regular-season to hold on to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, while Indiana is looking for another marquee victory that might boost its chances of getting a top-16 overall seed.

This is what Indiana had hoped for when it hired Mike Woodson as its head coach before last season, thinking that the former Hoosiers star would provide the program with a tie back to the glory years during the Knight Era. In the nearly 2-and-a-half decades since Knight was unceremoniously dismissed from Indiana, the Hoosiers have experienced only sporadic success, especially in comparison to the 30 years before. But Woodson has helped to stabilize the previously wayward program, restoring legitimacy to the Hoosiers on the Big Ten stage and soon — IU faithful hope — on a national one.

Saturday would be another step forward if Indiana can upset the Boilermakers. Meanwhile, there might be no more stable Big Ten program than Purdue, with what Matt Painter has built after taking over for Keady almost 20 years ago. Painter has taken the Boilermakers to 7 straight NCAA Tournaments, including 4 Sweet 16s and a trip to the Elite Eight.

But mutually-timed success recently has been fleeting. When the rivals played in Assembly Hall earlier this season, Purdue was the top-ranked team in the country, while Indiana was ranked No. 21, with the Hoosiers jumping to a big early lead then hanging on in the closing minutes. But Saturday will mark only the 2nd time since the Knight vs. Keady years that features a top-20 matchup, with the Boilermakers now at No. 5 and the Hoosiers at 17.

It happened on Feb. 19, 2008, when Kelvin Sampson’s 15th-ranked Hoosiers beat Painter’s 14th-ranked “Baby Boilers” 77-68 in Assembly Hall. But only 3 days later, the Indiana program was thrown into upheaval when Sampson was forced to resign after the NCAA alleged he had committed major recruiting violations, mainly centered around impermissible contact with prospects. As IU floundered under Tom Crean and Archie Miller, the rivalry lessened, at least in terms of Big Ten impact and certainly in terms of national importance.

Nothing like the Knight-Keady years. During their overlapping tenures, Indiana and Purdue played 8 times when both schools were ranked in the top 20, with Knight’s Hoosiers taking 6, including the last one on Feb. 29, 2000. Then, No. 14 IU beat No. 20 Purdue by 14 in Assembly Hall. But the end was nearing for Knight, with Sports Illustrated running a story 2 weeks later in which former player Neil Reed alleged Knight had choked him during a practice. Soon after, video of the incident surfaced. And 6 months later, Knight was fired.

And so 23 years later, the rivalry seems back on track. Perhaps there’s no better gauge of the meaningfulness of an event than ticket prices, and Saturday night’s a hot one. A lower-bowl ticket in Mackey Arena is likely to cost at least $1,200 — as of Friday morning, Stubhub had ticket pairs going for as much as $3,100 a piece — and uppers for $300-600. One hopeful seller had their Section 103 upper-bowl tickets listed for $48,500 each, (minus fees, of course).

It’s a big game, the biggest in years, the way the rivalry should be.