On Saturday ranked opponents Butler and Indiana matchup in the Crossroads Classic at Bankerslife Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Butler’s contest will be at 5PM ET and Purdue vs. Notre Dame is earlier that afternoon at 2.
Both teams have looked good recently, with similar “no-name” losses to Indiana schools that make up their only losses on the season. Indiana has been on a home winning streak, beating a solid team in the North Carolina Tarheels and then beating their next three opponents by a combined 93 points.
Indiana is lead by the talented duo of junior guard James Blackmon Jr. and sophomore big man Thomas Bryant. The pair combine for nearly 30 points every game. Bryant is a dominant force on the interior, averaging 2 blocks per game and over 8 rebounds.
Indiana also has a weapon in OG Anunoby, a sophomore 3 man with a complete all around game. Anunoby has been sidelined for part of the season due to illness (partially the reason that the Hoosiers lost to IU Fort Wayne) but should be ready for action against the Bulldogs on Saturday.
The Hoosiers as a whole shoot nearly 40% from behind the arc, and are a scoring powerhouse, notching 103 in their last game against Houston Baptist.
Butler has been able to shut down dominant big men in the past with their experienced frontcourt, so Bryant and Anunoby should not be too big of a task this time around for Tyler Wideman, Andrew Chrabascz and company.
The main concern for the Dawgs will be Blackmon. The guard put up 69 points in his first three games this season- including 26 in the Hoosier’s first game, a win against a tough Kansas Jayhawks team. Butler has had a problem with defense at the guard position in the past, and Coach Holtmann has attempted to make adjustments (such as starting the springy scoring guard Kamar Baldwin who also averages two steals per game against Cincy last week).
Butler will have to rely on other solid defensive players such as Sean McDermott and Henry Baddley off of the bench to lock down Indiana’s scorers.
If Butler can find a way to stop James Blackmon Jr. while still containing the Hoosier big men then they will come out on top.
Players to watch:
Nate Fowler is anything but a household name, but has logged important minutes for the Bulldogs this season. He is the biggest body that sees worthwhile court time for the Dawgs. He put up 9 points against Cincinnati’s dominant big men and played solid defensively to give Butler the edge in that contest. Look for him to contribute strongly but somewhat quietly against Thomas Bryant.
Andrew Chrabascz will need to come up big for Butler in this contest defensively and offensively in order to top Thomas Bryant and OG Anunoby on both ends of the court. He is Butler’s second leading scorer and might need to be number one in the scoring column if Butler is to come out on top.
James Blackmon Jr. is the Hoosier’s leading scorer, can shoot the ball from deep, averages over six boards per game, and is a solid defensive player as well. Butler will need to stop him on the offensive end if they want to win the game.
Photo Credits: Big East Coast Bias.com