With both teams undefeated, Bloomington High School's basketball game at Danville on Friday night qualified as an attractive matchup.
When the season's first Associated Press state rankings came out Wednesday, the Big 12 Conference game became downright beautiful.
The Purple Raiders (6-0) were ranked No. 3 in Class 4A by a statewide media panel, while Danville (8-0) came in tied for sixth.
"I think they are probably just as excited as we are about the recognition we've both got early on," said BHS coach Micheal Mosley. "At the end of the day, you've got to beat everybody that's in front of you."
Danville graduated a number of players from a team that downed the Purple Raiders, 66-58, last year on BHS' home floor. Among them was all-state guard Kendle Moore, now a freshman at Colorado State.
Forward Sean Houpt had 14 for Danville in that game and is now the Vikings' senior captain. The 6-foot-4 son of coach Ted Houpt has a 17.1 scoring average to go with 6.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game.
Danville is led by 6-foot-4 sophomore wing player Tevin Smith with 17.4 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists. Also scoring in double figures is 6-2 sophomore guard Nathanael Hoskins with 11.5 points and 4.4 assists.
Both teams come in 1-0 in the Big 12.
"They are a different team than last year," Mosley said. "They really came in here and thumped us. I think they had 11 seniors, but it's been interesting trying to get to know them watching film on them.
"We're going to try to figure them out early. I think we're really good. I think we've got a lot of experience and a lot of depth. That's where we're going to try to impose on them."
BHS has been led by 6-7 senior Chris Payton, a Southern Illinois recruit averaging 22.2 points per game. Payton had 23 points and 11 rebounds last year against Danville and is coming of a 31-point, 11-rebound effort Saturday in a 91-87 win over St. Louis Chaminade at the Chicago Elite Classic.
The Raiders have had good balance around him with sophomore guard Landon Moore (12.3 ppg), senior guard Donzell Johnson (11.0) and 6-5 senior guard Caleb Donaldson (10.8).
"I like the fact we're sharing the basketball, and the high quality shots we're getting and the threes we're shooting," Mosley said. "We're shooting such a high percentage because they're open looks.
"Chris takes a lot of attention. That makes those guys' shots a lot easier. Guys like Landon, Donzell and Nate (Duckworth) are doing their job making sure Chris can have his numbers because they're making the shots available to them."
The 6-2 Johnson suffered an ankle sprain last week at Peoria High and did not play against St. Louis Chaminade. However, Mosley said Johnson will play Friday.
The BHS coach anticipates a lot of zone defense from the Vikings.
"They are going to force tempo on offense, but they do like to make you shoot jump shots in the halfcourt," Mosley said. "They will give you some pressure.
"If they want to play fast, I think our team is built so we can play fast or slow. I think we've proven that with Normal West and really proved we can play fast with Chaminade."