INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – For nearly a decade, the Christmas gift for basketball fans across the state of Indiana has been the Crossroads Classic. It brings teams – and fan bases — together at Bankers Life Fieldhouse for an annual doubleheader, and it’s consistently been one of the best days on the hoops calendar.
It will be different this year, of course, with fans not being allowed for Saturday’s two games, first with Indiana taking on Butler and then Purdue challenging Notre Dame. It will be fun basketball, but for the state’s rabid fan bases, watching on TV is going to be the only option. My live blog is a close second though, because I will be in the arena. Please follow along later.
This is the last nonconference game for Indiana, which dives into Big Ten play on Wednesday at home against Northwestern. The Hoosiers will be well prepared for the gauntlet. This is their fifth game already against teams with NCAA Tournament aspirations.
We have a lot of respect for Butler and for this event. It will definitely feel different without the crowd,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said Friday. “That is part of what makes it so special, so that is a little disappointing. All and all, when you are playing against Butler, we have a tremendous amount of respect for those guys. We know the game is going to be absolutely a bear and it’s a great nonconference opponent for us as we finish up our nonconference slate.
To be able to get all seven nonconference games before we head to conference was essential to us. We feel like our schedule strength is as good as anyone in the country and it has prepared us for the long grind. We are excited to play, get back to work and get back on the floor.”
Here are the particulars on Saturday’s game:
Who: Indiana Hoosiers (4-2, 0-0 in the Big Ten) vs. Butler Bulldogs (1-1, 0-1 in Big East)
What: Crossroads Classic.
When: 11:30 a.m. ET, Saturday, Dec. 19.
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Ind.
Latest Line: Indiana is favored by 7.5 points according to the
DraftKings.com website as of 6 a.m. on Saturday morning.
Poll rankings: Neither team is ranked. Indiana is receiving votes in both polls, ranking No. 32 in the AP poll and No. 35 in the coaches poll.
Kenpom.com rankings: Indiana is No. 17 in the Kenpom rankings, moving up from No. 21 after last week’s win over North Alabama. Butler is No. 64.
This is Indiana’s fifth game this season against an opponent in the top-64.
Series history: Indiana leads the all-time series 39-15.
Last meeting: Indiana won 71-68 in this event two years ago, clinching the game on a dramatic three-pointer by then-freshman guard Rob Phinisee.
TV: FOX Sports 1
Announcers: Vince Welch and Stephen Bardo
Radio: Indiana Radio Network
Announcers: Don Fischer, Errek Suhr and Joe Smith
Game 2: Second game is Notre Dame vs, Purdue at 2:30 p.m. ET., and will be televised on ESPN2.
Here are three things I want to see from the Hoosiers on Saturday:
- Continue the Indy magic
Indiana is 6-3 in the Crossroads Classic, tied for the best record in the event with Butler, so that adds a little extra meaning to Saturday’s game. The Hoosiers have had some dramatic victories lately. Two years ago was the day that Rob Phinisee became ”Big Shot Rob,” hitting a three-pointer at the buzzer to give Indiana a 71-68 win.
Last year wasn’t quite as dramatic, but it was awfully close, with freshman Armaan Franklin going nuts in his hometown against Notre Dame. He made four three-pointers and scored 17 points, with the last three coming with 14 seconds left to secure the win for the Hoosiers. Franklin also had a big game there during the Big Ten tournament last March, scoring 13 points against Nebraska. Franklin is coming off a career game, scoring 19 points against North Alabama last Sunday.