Game Info / How to Watch:
Who? #9 Indiana Hoosiers (8-1, #14 KenPom) vs. #18 Butler Bulldogs (9-1, #19 KenPom)
When? Saturday, December 17th, 5 PM, BTN
Where? Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana
Pomeroy? IU by 1, 53% chance of Indiana victory
Indiana - Butler should be a thing every year.
I brought this up a couple of years ago and I stand by it. On the years they aren't playing in the Crossroads Classic, Indiana and Butler should be alternating between Assembly Hall and Hinkle Fieldhouse. Two weekends ago, Indiana hosted KenPom's 300th-ranked team on a Friday night in Bloomington while the Bulldogs took on the 324th-ranked team on Saturday in Indianapolis. It was trash. Don't do that anymore, either of you.
Both teams have also ventured out to smaller schools for true road games (Indiana to #106 Fort Wayne, Butler to #155 Indiana State) and got burned with bad (for now) losses. If the coaches are looking for home-and-homes in-state but don't want to risk jeopardizing their tournament résumés- the solution is right in front of you. Butler struggled in their first year in the Big East but have rebounded nicely, currently working on what would be their third straight top-30 KenPom campaign and offer a good, high-major, nearby opponent as Indiana continues to try and plug the void created when John Calipari became too scared of Assembly Hall. This is not to suggest Butler is the same caliber opponent as Kentucky (few schools are), but Indiana's pathetic non-conference schedule needs all the help it can get.
That dumb loss in Fort Wayne is going to haunt Indiana all the way to Selection Sunday, but winning that game doesn't do anything for them. A December loss to Butler in Hinkle Fieldhouse will rarely be held against you, but a victory? That will act as a wonderful counterbalance when you trip up against Penn State in February. A Butler-Indiana helps out both schools and guarantees a great game for fans that will be played somewhat regularly on a college campus, an increasingly rare occurrence in college basketball.
HERE WOULD YOU LIKE SOME FACTORS?
|INDIANA (#12 Adj. Offense)||57.8 (12th)||22.2 (312th)||40.5 (7th)||42.5 (51st)|
|BUTLER (#27 Adj. Defense)||47.4 (89th)
||27.1 (84th)||35.7 (187th)
|INDIANA (#30 Adj. Defense)||41.7 (9th)||16.1 (318th)||25.9 (53rd)||26.1 (29th)|
|BUTLER (#20 Adj. Offense)||56.7 (19th)||15.3 (11th)||28.2 (217th)||36.9 (141st)|
The first thing that's probably jumping out at you here is that Indiana is a dang top-30 defense, fueled largely by limiting second chances and being one of the very best in the nation at forcing misses. While a lot more goes into perimeter defense than how many makes you allow, it can't be ignored that Indiana is 2nd in the country in that area, allowing only 25.1% of their opponents' 3PT shots to fall so far this season. Some of that can certainly be chalked up to the competition, but only three of Indiana's opponents (thus far) are below average when it comes to firing from range.
Butler won't be the fourth, they're making 38.7% (Indiana sits at 38.8%) of their threes and 55.8% (the Hoosiers hit 57.5%) of their twos. Nearly 40% of Butler's field goal attempts come from behind the arc, which isn't that far behind Indiana's current rate of 40.8%. The similarities don't end there, as Butler is assisting on 54.7% of their made field goals (126th) while the Hoosiers do so 55.2% of the time (117th.) As you can see, Butler isn't all that different than Indiana offensively, both have one giant weakness (Butler's offensive rebounding, Indiana's turnovers) while Indiana is better at getting to the line. It's no surprise both offenses are fairly close to one another, efficiency-wise.
Defensively, Butler struggles with fouls, putting guys at the line more frequently than average and struggles to run guys off the perimeter, with 37.6% of their field goal attempts allowed coming from behind the arc, which makes them 210th in the country. They are good rebounders and excel at turning opponents over, which is always concerning for the Hoosiers, who rarely need any assistance when it comes to coughing up the ball.
Personnel-wise, the Bulldogs aren't as deep as the Hoosiers (98th in bench minutes, Indiana is 37th) but they're far more experienced (128th / 312th). Their nucleus consists of three seniors and two juniors. PG Tyler Lewis is a transfer from NC State in his second year at Butler, he has an assist rate of 36.5% (35th) and an eFG% of 71.9 (14th) but he doesn't take very many shots. Avery Woodson is a transfer from Memphis and hits 41.8% of his threes, Indiana cannot afford to let him get clean looks from deep. Andrew Chrabascz, a sort of poor man's stretch forward does a good job of getting to the line and can hit an open three if you give it to him. Tyler Wideman is their main man in the post, a menace on the glass at either end and can finish through contact. He's shooting 70.5% on his twos and leads the starters in Free Throw Rate.
Kelan Martin is the team's go-to guy on the wing. He's gobbling up 31.1% of the possessions and 34.4% of the shots when he's on the court and only Chrabascz is playing more minutes than him. His eFG% of 34.4 isn't stellar, but he's capable from just about any spot on the floor. He represents a huge matchup issue for Indiana because his size and athleticism means you can't expect to stick one of the guards on him. Since the Bulldogs start three forwards, I wouldn't expect Indiana to counter with their familiar three guard lineup for very long. Assuming OG Anunoby is healthy, I would expect him and Juwan Morgan to play the majority of the minutes along with Thomas Bryant, giving the team defensive flexibility to guard all three Butler forwards without sacrificing on offense.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH FOR
- The Shot Creators: Both teams do a great job of disrupting opponent's ball movement and reducing them to a lot of one-on-one play. Butler is 12th in Assists / FGM on defense, while Indiana is 26th. Guys like James Blackmon Jr. and Kelan Martin, who excel at creating their own shots out of seemingly nothing, could play bigger roles than usual against two defenses that have been very good at preventing passes from finding open guys.
- The Freshmen: Both teams have several freshmen contributors coming off the bench, Curtis Jones and Devonte Green offer a couple dynamic point scoring options in the backcourt for the Hoosiers, while De'Ron Davis reinforces a strong frontcourt. Butler's Kamar Baldwin, who hit the game winner against Northwestern, shoots 41.2% from deep and is 4th in the country in steal%, is a two-way threat for the Bulldogs. Sean McDermott is another sharpshooter to be wary of, while Joey Brunk, who had several Big Ten offers out of Southport High School, isn't playing a lot (yet) but has an above-average offensive rating and is a tremendous rebounder.
- Kelan Martin v. OG Anunoby: I alluded to this above, but I hope OG is 100% because the basketball fans of Indiana deserve to see this matchup in all its glory. I think Anunoby has settled for the long jumper a little too much in the early going, and asserting himself to the basket against Martin would force the Bulldogs out of their comfort zone and the resulting help and double teams will create open jumpers elsewhere. Likewise, if Anunoby can't check Martin one-on-one on the other end, it will create all sorts of issues for the Hoosiers defensively, who are still prone to mistakes when it comes to help-side defense.
REGRETTABLE TRASH TALK AND PREDICTION
Blue is not a Good Dog.
This game will be up for grabs in the last two minutes and I'll believe any argument for either team, honestly. As a Water Carrying Blogger Boy, however, I'll take the Hoosiers' depth over the Bulldogs' experience. Indiana by 5.