Who? Butler Bulldogs (8-2, #36 KenPom) v. Indiana Hoosiers (8-2, #52 KenPom)
When? 2:30 PM, Fox Sports 1
Vegas? INDIANA +3
Pomeroy? BUTLER by 2, 43% chance of Indiana victory
The ____________ Way
How does Butler do it? Witchcraft? A deal with the devil?
Like any underdog that rises to the top without being fueled by obvious star power, it's attributed to that team's name or mascot's "way." All of Butler's success can be attributed to "The Butler Way," and nothing else. Future NBA first round pick / max contract signee Gordon Hayward and consensus top coaching mind Brad Stevens are merely window dressing on the rock solid foundation of basketball mythology that guided Butler to back-to-back National Championship losses and then taking half a decade off, I guess.
But what is "The Butler Way" exactly? I was going to make up a definition but oh my god in heaven there's actually a Wikipedia article about it so here it is:
- Humility - know who we are, strengths AND weaknesses. It's no problem that Roosevelt Jones takes 21.1% of available shots and pairs it with an eFG% of 41.5% because he KNOWS that's horrendous.
- Passion - do not be lukewarm, commit to excellence. Which, incidentally, is the same standard I hold my soup to.
- Unity - do not divide our house, team first. If I didn't know any better, I'd say this sounded a lot like-
- Servanthood - make teammates better, lead by giving. Nope, yeah, this is just socialism. We all know that Butler's success was built on offensive possessions in which the team passed it to all five players until the shot clock expired. That kind of selflessness WINS GAMES, Y'ALL.
- Thankfulness - learn from every circumstance. Well this obviously isn't a part of The Butler Way because they got back to the National Championship after losing it the previous year and then lost it again.
HERE WOULD YOU LIKE SOME FACTORS?
|INDIANA (Offense)||58.6% (9th)||17.0% (39th)||37.7% (35th)||40.0% (128th)|
|BUTLER (Defense)||44.0% (51st)||24.6% (17th)||27.2% (50th)||35.2% (139th)|
|INDIANA (Defense)||48.1% (156th)||18.1% (266th)||35.0% (277th)||24.9% (13th)|
|BUTLER (Offense)||51.1% (97th)||17.7% (67th)||35.2% (70th)||44.3% (59th)|
Three Things to Watch For
- What's the crowd going to look like? At last check, plenty of good seats remained for those wishing to buy a ticket to the event. Interest in the Crossroads Classic has waned since its inception and Indiana's slide from tournament-lock to bubble-bound, coupled with their poor performances in the game itself for two straight seasons made for a pretty mundane turnout last year. It's also no secret that the state of the program has many Hoosier fans grumbling, so I don't expect a big, raucous turnout on Saturday, but I would love to be wrong. Many have cited opponent quality as a reason for poor crowds in Assembly Hall to begin the year, but a Top-25 maybe-rival is on the floor Saturday afternoon in the university's closest metropolitan area and there isn't even a sellout? Yikes.
- Guard defense. I touched on Yogi giving Kellen Dunham the Stauskas treatment, but will he and the other guards be able to stop the Butler backcourt enough to win? Grand Canyon showed some ability to beat these guys off the dribble last weekend, was that opponent-adjusted finals malaise or something more terrifying? I'm interested to see, in particular, how they respond to Roosevelt Jones' style, as he's one of the most physical players in the country.
- Rivalry-esque shenanigans. If this is to be a real, modern rivalry, we probably need some bad blood to develop. Yogi and Hanner are the only guys who were playing for Indiana in the 2012 game that are still playing for Indiana now, but does Austin Etherington's transfer to Butler give us a catalyst? I very much doubt anything happens, but a small part of me would like to see a little chippiness on Saturday. Nothing that gets anyone ejected or hurt, just something to stoke the fire and get us some hot takes about classiness and respect on Twitter.