clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2015 Crossroads Classic: Butler vs. Purdue Preview, Odds, How to Watch

New, 90 comments

Purdue is 0-4 all-time in the Crossroads Classic and faces a very good Butler team on Saturday.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The 2015-16 season begins in earnest tomorrow in Indianapolis as Purdue has its first game against a top 25 team. Until Purdue has played some good teams (Pittsburgh, Florida, New Mexico) that might make the top 25 later on, but they were not there at game time. Now they get a Butler team that has been the premier team in the state of Indiana for some time. They are a regular NCAA Tournament team, have been to a pair of Final Fours recently, and their nadir have not been as low as Purdue, Indiana, or Notre Dame has gone. In fact, they have elevated themselves into (arguably) a major conference as the most successful mid major of all-time.

What's so impressive about Butler is that the last time Purdue actually beat Butler was at the time when the Bulldogs were becoming the plucky upstart. That was in 1998, and the Bulldogs were coming off of their second straight NCAA appearance and only their third all-time. Since then they have grown into a national program that I respect the hell out of.

Opponent

Butler Bulldogs

Location:

Indianapolis, IN

Date:

12/19/2014

Venue:

Bankers Life Fieldhouse (18,165)

TV:

Big Ten Network

Radio Stream:

TuneIn

Satellite Radio:

SIRI 136, XM

Odds:

No line yet

Tickets:

As low as $88 on Stubhub

As low as $79 on VividSeats

Tipoff:

5:00pm

KenPom Ranking:

28 of 351

RPI:

36

Blog Representation:

Big East Coast Bias

2015-16 Record:

8-1

All-time series

Purdue leads 37-17

Last Purdue win:

63-54 at Butler on 12/19/1998

Last Butler Win:

76-70 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on 12/14/13

2014-15 Record:

23-11, 12-6 Big East (Reached NCAA Second Round)

Last NCAA appearance:

2015 (13 appearances, best performance: 2010 & 2011 NCAA Runner-Up)

Coach:

Chris Holtmann (31-12 in 2nd year at Butler, 75-66 overall)

After not losing to Butler since 1967 Purdue has now lost four in a row to the Bulldogs. It all started in 2001, my senior year at Purdue, when Butler came in and earned a 74-68 come from behind win at Mackey Arena. I remember that game pretty clearly as when the 2001-02 team (Gene Keady's first losing season) started to fall apart. Purdue led by double digits in the second half, but Butler never played like it was behind by 12. They were totally confident and made a great comeback to win.

Five years later Purdue went to Hinkle Fieldhouse and lost 68-65 to a ranked Butler squad that was on its way up to national prominence. The last two meetings have come in the first and third Crossroads Classics. Andrew Smith (Get Well Soon, young man!) capped the 2011 game where Purdue blew another big lead. His tip-in gave Butler a 67-65 win. In 2013 Butler won 76-70 in a game that really was not that close, as they maintained a comfortable double-digit lead until the very end.

This year's edition of Butler is like so many others. They are a team that does all the Little Things right. They won't wow you with athleticism or recruiting stars, but they are very, very good basketball players that play well together as a team. They are high scoring, breaking 93 points in four games and even hitting an astounding 144 in their season opener against the Citadel. The lone loss was an 85-75 defeat to a very good Miami team in the Puerto Rico tournament final. They won on a buzzer beater at Cincinnati for an excellent good road win and have respectable wins over Temple and Tennessee.

This is a very balanced team with five players averaging in double figures. Kellen Dunham and Kelan Martin are both having great seasons shooting the basketball, especially from long range. Dunham averages 19.1 points per game, takes about eight threes per game, and is hitting 39.4% from long range. Martin only has 27 attempts from three, but he is shooting 48.1% on them and averaging 14.8 points. Both guys are bigger guards that can get space.

Roosevelt Jones has returned from injury to have a solid senior season. The 6'4" forward averages 13.1 points and 7.4 rebounds as their primary guy that can get to the basket. Andrew Chrabascz is a 6'7" forward that averages 12.3 points per game, while Tyler Wideman is having a good sophomore season as their primary post presence at 10 points and 6.3 rebounds.

As expected, Purdue should have a huge advantage with its size. Wideman and Jackson Davis are their tallest rotation players and they are just 6'8". That is going to make for a long day of guarding Hammons and Haas on the low block. This is still a good rebounding team at 40 per game.

Butler is a a team that shares the basketball extremely well. While Purdue is 8th nationally at 19.4 assists per game Butler is not far behind at 16.8 per game. Jones leads them with an impressive 5.4 assists per game. They also take smart shots as they are shooting 51.4% from the floor as a team. That is 8th nationally and they are one of only 16 teams shooting 50% or better.

It is safe to say Purdue's defense will be tested, but the Boilermakers' size should make up for it. I expect to see an entertaining, high scoring game. The Bulldogs are second nationally in scoring at 91.7 points per game and Purdue is 37th at 83.4. With Indiana averaging 89 points per game, Notre Dame averaging 80, and Indiana not playing any defense at all we can likely set tomorrow's combined over/under at 360.

I am looking forward to a fun game. Purdue's advantage on offense inside is staggering, but Butler is Butler. They are going to shoot the basketball well, not turn it over, and play smart, efficient basketball. With Purdue's struggles in the Crossroads Classic the varsity game (Purdue-Butler) should be very entertaining after a nice JV game.