Kelan Martin elevates in the air for a layup against Princeton. The senior is averaging 17.6 points per game. Collegian file photo.
JOSH MULLENIX | STAFF REPORTER | firstname.lastname@example.org
Who: Butler vs. Purdue
When: Dec. 16, 12 p.m.
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana
How to Watch: FOX
The Butler men’s basketball teams takes on the Purdue Boilermakers in the Crossroads Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Crossroads Classic brings Indiana’s premiere college basketball programs to Indianapolis every year. The Bulldogs will take on the Boilermakers while the Notre Dame Fighting Irish face the Indiana Hoosiers.
As for Butler’s matchup, both teams are perfect since losing in their November nonconference tournaments. The Bulldogs’ last loss was to Texas in the first round of the PK80 and Purdue’s last loss came against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at the Battle 4 Atlantis. Since that Nov. 23 loss, the Boilermakers have gone 6-0 with wins over Arizona, Northwestern, and Maryland. The Bulldogs, similarly, have won five straight since their loss to the Longhorns. Here’s what to know as Butler tries to take down a Purdue team firing on all cylinders.
Stopping the balanced offensive attack
Purdue scores with the best of them. The Boilermakers are ranked No. 17 in the country, averaging just over 85 points per game. The secret? Four different players score in double figures for Purdue. Carsen Edwards leads the team with 17 points per game followed by three more scorers averaging 13.5 points or more. One of those scorers is Dakota Mathias. The senior is tied for 28th in the country shooting 48.5 percent from beyond the arch. When it comes to weapons on the offensive end, very few teams matchup with Purdue.
If the Bulldogs look to stop this offensive attack, the Bulldogs should start with the three-point line. In Purdue’s two losses, they have shot below 37 percent from deep both games including a 29 percent effort against Western Kentucky. Purdue’s offensive talent takes a step back if Butler can hold down the three point line.
Purdue has several explosive scorers. But when they miss, they have two big men stretching over seven feet tall. Isaac Haas and Matt Haarms average over four blocks a game. Pulling these guys away from the basket will be key to allow Butler’s penetrators to have room to operate around the rim. Nate Fowler, in particular, and his threat to score away from the basket will be important for Butler if they want to pull these Purdue giants away from the rim.
Over the last few games the Bulldogs have gotten into possessions quicker and have pushed the ball of missed baskets. Keeping up the tempo will put pressure on these bigs to run the floor and maintain their presence around the rim.
Butler’s success against ranked teams
Since the Crossroads’ creation in 2011, the Bulldogs are 5-1 with some pretty impressive wins. In 2012, Butler knocked off the top ranked Indiana Hoosiers as an unranked team. In the two most recent Crossroads, the Bulldogs have knocked off Purdue and Indiana, both of which were the number nine ranked team in the country at the time of the matchup. It’s not the first time Butler has gone toe-to-toe against a ranked opponent at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, maybe they have another upset win in them.