Pregame: Butler Bulldogs vs #17 Purdue Boilermakers
Butler takes on Purdue in the Crossroads Classic in Bankerslife Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis. Last year at the Classic, Butler upset then #9 Indiana, a huge indicator of what was to come with last years team. This year, the Bulldogs take on yet another ranked opponent, looking for a similar result.
To come out of Bankerslife with a win, Butler will have to contain Purdue’s offense, that is averaging 10 more points per game than their own. Leading the charge for the Boilermakers is sophomore guard Carsen Edwards. Averaging 17 points per game, Edwards can score from anywhere on the floor, and if he isn’t getting it done from the field, he can beat you from the freethrow line (scored nine of 13 from the stripe in Purdue’s win over former #17 Louisville).
Next on Purdue’s scouting are their senior big men. The giant on the floor will be 7’2” Isaac Haas. Averaging 15 points and five rebounds per game, Haas is also the interior defense anchor, blocking a couple of shots every game and alerting way more. While a beast on the inside, the big man cannot even attempt a three pointer, despite shooting 81% from the freethrow line. Haas’s complement is 6’8” big man Vincent Edwards. He is a more dynamic offensive player, able to stretch the floor and score inside. As a result, he is averaging 13 points per game. Edwards is also the best rebounder on the team, averaging more than nine boards per game.
Senior guard Dakota Mathias is a familiar opponent for Butler’s Kelan Martin (the two worked out in the offseason together) and averages over 13 points per game for Purdue. Mathias also leads the team in assists and is a great long range shooter, averaging 49% from deep.
Defense will be the key for Butler in this game, whether it be stopping Haas and Edwards on the interior or closing out to shooters on the perimeter (Purdue shoots nearly 40% from three as a team compared to Butler’s 31%).
Butler’s offense should be strong coming off of three strong games and a week of practice to tune things up, but Purdue is an experienced squad and has seen a little bit of everything already this season. This should be a good one folks.
Players to watch-
Dakota Mathias is one of Purdue’s most experienced players and is a consistent threat from behind the arc. Butler has struggled in the past (the loss to Maryland) to defend the three point line, so look for Purdue to exploit that weakness.
P.J. Thompson is another senior Purdue shooter who can light it up from the outside. He is averaging only nine points per game, but shooting 49% from deep and has three games already this season where he has made four or more long balls.
Kelan Martin is coming off of a relatively slow game of just 15 points, but is averaging 22 points per game in his last four performances. In last year’s Crossroad Classic game against Indiana, Martin exploded for 28 points, and he will be looking to come out strong again this weekend.
Photo credit: Big East Coast Bias