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Crossroads Classic Preview: Indiana vs Butler

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Indiana has won a few tough games at home but now they must take their show on the road in just their second game away from the comfy confines of Assembly Hall against the Butler Bulldogs in Indianapolis.

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Opponent: #23 Butler

Date / Time: Saturday, December 20th - 2:30 PM Eastern

Location: Banker's Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana

TV: Fox Sports 1

Line: Butler by 3

Projected Starting Lineups
Indiana Butler
Hanner Mosquera-Perea Kameron Woods
Troy Williams Andrew Chrabascz
Robert Johnson Roosevelt Jones
James Blackmon Jr. Alex Barlow
Kevin Yogi Ferrell Kellen Dunham

Who are the Bulldogs?

After Brandon Miller's leave of absence, Chris Holtmann has helmed the Butler Bulldogs and has done an admirable job. While the return of Roosevelt Jones is likely a huge factor, Holtmann's Bulldogs have had a stronger sense of both offensive and defensive identity than the team enjoyed under Miller. Despite a tough road loss against the Tennessee Volunteers, a team that looks unlikely to be eligible for postseason play at this point, the Bulldogs have been fairly consistent under Holtmann. While they're not the most offensively talented team - they rank outside the top 100 teams in the country in both 2P FG% and 3P FG% - they are stout defensively and excel at cleaning up the glass and limiting their opponents' opportunities.

Defensively, Bulter is very capable of forcing turnovers and limiting assists by staying in passing lanes. Outside of Kellen Dunham, Butler generally struggles to generate good looks at the basket against set defenses. Offensively, well, they need their defense to lead to easy scoring opportunities. The big question is - can the Hoosiers stand tall against a top defense and refuse to be pushed around on the glass?

Prediction

The Butler Bulldogs are one of the best 3-point defenses in the country right now, at 7th nationally, allowing opponents to complete just 25.6% of 3-point opportunities. But the Hoosiers are a different beast than Butler has seen to this point - Indiana connects on 42.1% of their 3-point attempts which is good for 11th nationally. Butler hasn't faced a 3-point offense ranked better than 153rd nationally. Something has got to give. In my estimation, it'll be Butler's defense. Or, at least part of it. I don't think the Hoosiers will best Butler on the glass - in fact, I think they'll be beat handily in the rebounding category.

But I think Indiana will score enough baskets from the perimeter between Yogi, James Blackmon Jr., and Nick Zeisloft to come away with a contested victory. After seeing the Hoosiers put up 74 points in fairly efficient fashion against Louisville it's tough for me to figure that Butler can shut down the Hoosiers. Butler will be tough and resolute after a disappointing loss against a Tennessee team that doesn't appear to be any good and I think that their effort will show in the box score in terms of rebounds, field goal attempts, and steals. The Bulldogs still have bite, but I think their offense will bite them today just like it did when they traveled to Knoxville, TN. Indiana wins a close one, 81-77.