It has been a good week for Purdue. The Boilers got an important win to open Big Ten play and notch a top 25 victory. Now they get a final chance to get a major conference win outside of the Big Ten. We cannot afford to go 0-3 here. I think most fans would have happily accepted a 6-2 start given the strength of schedule (three ACC teams, an excellent low major in Liberty, and Ohio State). Miami’s struggles due to a limited roster since the Purdue game haven’t helped (especially given Purdue’s collapse), but overall we’re in a good spot.
Now we get Notre Dame in what is probably the final edition of the Crossroads Classic for some time. This is an event Purdue has struggled in big time over the years. In fact, it is just 2-7 with some pretty ugly losses. For whatever reason, this is an event where Purdue comes out flat. Maybe it is because it normally occurs after a week off due to Finals. Maybe it is the atmosphere. I don’t know. What I do know is that this is a chance to grab a win that should remain pretty strong the rest of the year.
From: South Bend, Indiana
Date : Saturday, December 19, 2020
Tip Time: 2:30 p.m. ET
Location: Indianapolis, IN
Arena: Bankers Life Fieldhouse (17,923)
Live Stats: Purdue Sports
Radio: Purdue Radio Network
Odds: No Line Yet
2019-20 Record: 20-12, 10-10 ACC
2020-21 Record: 2-3
Opponent Blog: One Foot Down
Series with Purdue: Notre Dame Leads 23-21
Last Notre Dame Win: 88-80 in Indianapolis on 12/15/2018
Last Purdue Win: 86-81 in Indianapolis on 12/17/2016
NCAA History: 36 appearances, last in 2017. 1978 Final Four
Coach: Mike Brey (439-236 in 21st season at Notre Dame, 538-288 overall)
When we last met Notre Dame I was convinced that Purdue was in the midst of a lost season. Purdue struggled its way to an 88-80 loss two years ago in which a young Trevion Williams was one of the few bright spots and it knocked us to 6-5. I really thought it was over and Purdue would struggle to make the NCAA Tournament. Instead, Purdue roared out to a long winning streak starting the next week, earned a surprising and deeply satisfying Big Ten title, and came within a second of reaching the Promised Land of the Final Four.
So far this season the Fighting Irish have played a tough schedule, so their 2-3 record is misleading, especially since some games have been moved around due to COVID. They opened the season with an 80-70 loss at Michigan State before beating Detroit 78-70. They then lost to Ohio State in a high scoring 90-85 ACC/Big Ten Challenge game at home before getting a nice road win at Kentucky 64-63 last Saturday. This week they opened ACC play with a 75-65 home loss to Duke.
Junior guard Prentiss Hubb has been very good so far. He is averaging 19.4 points per game and shooting better than 40% from three. He also leads the team in attempts from long range with 42 and he leads the team in assists at 4 per game. Backcourt mate Dane Goodwin averages 15.4 points per game and has also been good from three, going 8 of 17.
The Irish have a good inside-out game as Nate Laszewski averages 14.6 points per game and a team high 9.2 rebounds. Where he is a matchup problem is that he can also shoot the three, as he is 9 of 16 from long range. At 6’10” him pulling Trevion Williams or Zach Edey from the basket will be a major problem.
I definitely have a concern with the Irish because they are shooting better than 41% from three as a team. They can all shoot as well. Cormac Ryan is a third player averaging in double figures 10.2 points per game. Juwan Durham can spell Laszewski in the post and averages 6.8 points and 5.6 rebounds.
Notre Dame reminds me a bit of Miami in that they have good guards and a couple of solid post players that can match up with Edey and Williams. Purdue needs to solve some of its shooting woes from long range or this can get out of hand in a hurry. The Irish do tend to go with only a seven man rotation, however, so any foul trouble on their end could benefit Purdue with our depth. The Irish are no strangers to second half collapses, either:
Kentucky refused to go away, though, driving the score closer and closer with a full-court press that SUPREMELY bothered the Irish, forcing various turnovers to go along with the poor shooting ND turned in all half. After Olivier Sarr hit a jumper to make it a 64-63 game with about 40 seconds to go, the Irish came down and had a disgustingly bad possession, with Hubb dribbling the clock down until he air-balled a three and ND received a shot clock violation.
That was after the Irish had a 22 point lead.
This is a game that will be tricky for Purdue, but hardly overwhelming. Notre Dame runs hot and cold, just like Purdue. Given that the Irish, no matter their record, will be buoyed up by a strong non-conference slate and the usual ACC juggernaut, it would be an excellent win to have on our resume on Selection Sunday. It is still the Crossroads though, and Purdue has been disappointing at best in this event.