December 17th marks the the inaugural Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis, bringing together four of the most-storied college basketball programs in the state of Indiana. Purdue, Butler, Notre Dame, and Indiana will all descend on Conseco Fieldhouse in what is sure to be any Hoosier hoops fan’s dream. Purdue takes on Butler in the early game, and Notre Dame looks to hand Indiana its first loss of the season in the second tip-off.
Of course, these four schools used to get together for a non-conference double header in Butler’s Hinkle Fieldhouse way back when, and this event is seeking to rekindle some of the fond memories of those games. Purdue Athletic Director had this to say about the Crossroads Classic last year:
Growing up in Indianapolis, this event definitely strikes an emotional chord for me. I vividly remember attending the Hoosier Classic at Hinkle Fieldhouse as a young boy. It was my introduction to the significance of basketball in the state of Indiana. Hopefully by bringing together our four schools at the new Crossroads Classic on the magnificent stage of Conseco Fieldhouse, we will showcase this great sport to a new generation of fans.
At the beginning of the year, the game between Butler and Purdue was highly anticipated. Butler was coming off back-to-back seasons in which it appeared in the NCAA National Championship game, and everyone was eager to see how Purdue would respond to losing JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore to the NBA, while finally getting a healthy Robbie Hummel back on the court. The game is still highly anticipated to be sure, but has perhaps lost a bit of that initial luster as Butler has stumbled out of the gate with a 4-6 mark. Still, the Dawgs should not be overlooked, especially while under the command of young coaching phenom, Brad Stevens. Stevens has compiled an overall record of 121-31 in five seasons with Butler, winning the Horizon League each year (oh, and those two NCAA Runner-Ups). Said Purdue’s head coach Matt Painter about Stevens:
He’s one of the best in the country and he’s proven it in short period of time.
Meanwhile, Purdue has opened with a 9-2 record, but has many problems of its own they need to address before conference play. However, this will be their first game in exactly one week, a welcome break from a grueling stretch in which they played 11 games in 29 days, including a trio of games in Puerto Rico. Rebounding and foul shooting should be of particular concern to the Boilermakers going into this game against Butler, especially with 6’11″ Junior Andrew Smith to contend with in the post. It will be imperative for Purdue forwards Travis Carroll and Sandi Marcius to assert themselves down low on the block, something they have struggled with so far this season. Purdue should expect to see a lot of zone from Butler, forcing Hummel and fellow senior Ryne Smith to knock down their perimeter shots. That said, if the Boilers can get solid front court production and knock down their free throws, they should be able to take care of business in this game.
Prediction: 71-56 Purdue
You can catch the game at 2:00 EST on CBS.
Read the Notre Dame-Indiana preview here.