For Indiana, basketball reigns supreme. The Crossroads Classic is a time for bragging rights when the top in-state schools come together to compete in the home of the Indiana Pacers. Indiana, Purdue, Butler, and Notre Dame programs with a combined 122 NCAA tournament appearances and 14 trips the to Final Four add that to Indiana’s five National Championships and the state of Indiana has been represented well by the big four. Nonetheless, the hatred for each other still is at an all-time high, mostly, Purdue and Indiana. The Hoosiers and Boilermakers will still meet twice in the season but give their fans a chance to cheer against them and the stadium is rocking. An ultimate challenge and a tradition that should never be done away with. After an amazing day with two games coming down to the end here’s where each team stands heading into their winter breaks.
The Bulldogs have slowly built a program that can rival the other three but this season easily can be named the best team in Indiana. Kamar Baldwin is clearly the team’s best player and in desperate situations down the stretch, he is their go-to guy. However, the team is deep and much more than Baldwin. Aaron Thompson provides the team with a stable presence at the point a solid defender who can get to the basket. Sean McDermott and Jordan Tucker are lethal threats from behind the arc and if both are hitting on the same night enemies be warned. The biggest surprise for this season has been the stability down low. Bryce Nze adds a dimension to the team that they haven’t had. He allows Butler to play small and big as either the four or five and Bryce Golden has shown that he is a Big East caliber center who can step out and knock down a shot when needed. The biggest and most important factor for the Bulldogs is their tenacious defense. The Bulldogs have only allowed four of their twelve opponents to eclipse the 60 point mark and are ranked top 15 according to KenPom. This is a team destined for the NCAA tournament which for Butler most likely means a trip to at least the second round as they haven’t lost a first-round game in eight appearances and of their sixteen trips have only been one and done four times.
The Hoosiers are a young team. They are still looking to put together a full 40 minutes and are maturing together as a team. The Hoosiers are tough down low. Joey Brunk wouldn’t look like someone on a playground to watch out for but he finds a way to get to the right spot and knock down a basket. Indiana hasn’t found their identity quite yet which can be worrisome moving into Big Ten play. Indiana needs to identify itself before it moves forward. The Hoosiers can score and put up big numbers but when forced to play tempo basketball can the Hoosiers find a way to win. The offensive glass will be a key to the Hoosiers down the stretch to the season. The Hoosiers rank 14 at KenPom in offensive rebounding and will need that to bring them success, they aren’t the best shooting team but give them multiple chances and they’ll find a way to beat you. The NCAA tournament is certainly a possibility but is certainly no sure thing in the Big Ten this season.
The Boilermakers are struggling to win games. They are now 7-5 with one non-conference game remaining before Big Ten play. Don’t let that kick the Boilermakers to the curb, last season they were 6-5 at this point and were one bounce away from heading to the Final Four. However, this team has no Carsen Edwards. This season Purdue is built around their defense. In all five of Purdue’s losses, this season the Boilermakers have given up at least 60 points. In their wins, no team has been able to reach that mark. Purdue can score but the question remains who is it going to be. The Boilermakers easily have seven different players who can lead them in scoring on any night. A formula for success but when a team also cannot identify a go-to man its difficult to say if this team can find success. Defense will keep Purdue in games but will their offense allow for this team to find a longterm answer to their inconsistencies will be the ultimate unknown. Purdue looks like a top of the pack Big Ten team (even with their loss to the bottom feeder Nebraska) which means an NCAA tournament. However, things could turn quickly for the Boilermakers if lose confidence and are unable to find a consistent leg to stand on.