What to Expect: Butler

After another week off following a 100-69 blowout of Central Connecticut State, the No. 1 Hoosiers travel to Bankers Life Fieldhouse tomorrow for a 2 p.m. meeting with Butler. The Bulldogs (7-2) are coming off a 74-65 win at Northwestern last Saturday.

The game will be televised by CBS with Spero Dedes and Clark Kellogg on the call. 

While they won’t enter Saturday’s contest playing at anywhere near level of Indiana, Butler looks like a team moving in the right direction with plenty of room for growth.

After two impressive wins in Maui over Marquette and North Carolina, the Bulldogs stumbled against Illinois, but have since rebounded for four straight wins. The last of those four wins came over Northwstern in Welsh Ryan Arena, which could loom large if Butler ends up on the NCAA bubble.

PERSONNEL

The primary piece offensively for Brad Stevens is senior guard Rotnei Clarke, who played his first three seasons at Arkansas, but transferred following the dismissal of John Pelphrey. Clarke played a lot of point guard to start the season, but has shifted to the off guard spot as freshman Alex Barlow has entered the starting lineup at the point.

Clarke is averaging four 3-pointers a game and is shooting 45 percent from behind the arc while averaging a team-high 17.3 points. Victor Oladipo commented after Saturday’s win over Central Connecticut State that he’s been guarding the best player on the opposing team all season, so look for the Indiana junior to spend considerable time marking Clarke.

Butler’s second primary scoring threat in the backcourt is freshman Kellen Dunham, who has five starts but is now in a reserve role. The freshman from Pendleton Heights is a capable perimeter shooter, but is shooting just 30.4 percent. However, he is shooting 97 percent (31-of-32) from the foul line.

Khyle Marshall is off to a strong start to his junior season as he’s the team’s leading rebounder (5.6) and second leading scorer (12.1). Marshall is one of the better offensive rebounders in the Atlantic 10 (12.5 OR%) and will likely spend a lot of time being checked by Will Sheehey. Andrew Smith, a senior big man from Zionsville, has been efficient offensively (59 eFG%) and is the team’s best offensive rebounder (13.3 OR%).

POMEROY PREVIEW

Obviously the numbers are heavily skewed towards the Hoosiers given the No. 1 ranking by KenPom.com compared to No. 56 overall for the Bulldogs, but a couple of things stand out as significant from a glance at the chart above:

· Free throw discrepancy: Tom Crean has long discussed getting to the line as a key to becoming an elite team and this appears to be a situation where Indiana can exploit Butler’s tendency to send opponents to the line as well as their ineptness at getting to the line themselves. Opponent free throw rate was an Achilles heel for the Hoosiers a couple of seasons ago, but they’ve improved even more in that category this year and this game, at least on paper, could have a large free throw discrepancy.

· Not typical Butler defense: The Bulldogs have ranked in the top 50 in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency formula in each of the last three seasons, but that hasn’t been the case to-date in 2012-2013. Butler is allowing an effective field goal percentage of 49.3 percent and Indiana is third nationally in that category at 58.2 percent.

WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO

On paper, this appears to be a game Indiana should win comfortably, but it’s just the third game away from Assembly Hall for the Hoosiers. In their first two neutral games, IU struggled for a while with Georgia and needed overtime to beat Georgetown, so it will be interesting to see how those two games prepared this group for tomorrow.

The other dynamic at play here is that Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Peter Jurkin will be eligible to play for the first time. Integrating two new players into a game on a national stage will have its challenges, as Tom Crean discussed earlier in the week.

“It’s not a wholesale, ‘well we’ll do this now because this guy’s back or that guy’s back.’ It doesn’t work that way,” Tom Crean said Monday evening on his radio show. “You’ve gotta blend it in. You don’t want to put your players in situations that they’re not ready for.

“They haven’t had a chance to develop confidence through adversity in games. And they haven’t had a chance to play through mistakes in games. They haven’t had a chance to get that experience in games. Practice is one thing, games are another thing. And we’ll be behind in that.”

With all that said, this Indiana team doesn’t appear to be affected by the early No. 1 ranking and the pressure that surround all of the attention they’ve been receiving. As cliche as it may sound, this team truly has bought into the “take it one game at a time” approach thus far and with a week off between games and finals out of the way, the expectation is a team focused on hurdling the last major barrier to another unbeaten non-conference schedule.

  • Abellham Lincoln

    It may be a little hard to get excited for basketball after another school shooting. Just dont understand it. Anyway, tomorrow will be a great game. For the IU fans/alumni living in Louisville, come out to Buffalo Wild Wings and support the Hoosiers! 4600 Shelbyville Road in the Shelbyville Plaza, Louisville, KY. Some of us are trying to put together an IU Fan Club in the city.

  • Evansville Hoosier

    A friend of mine’s roommate supposedly went on a date with Derek Elston last night and he said he’s playing in the next game? Anyone else hear that?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1271482969 Joe Morris

    No he’s not playing. Steve McClain said he may be back in another week or so.

  • SCHoosier

    After two weeks and only two games..I am in serious IU b-ball withdrawal. I don’t care if the Bulldog plays point guard..let’s bring them on!.

  • IUHoosiers23

    Does anyone have the link to order the calendar with all of the players’ faces and the schedule? There was a link on a previous entry but I can’t find it and can’t locate via Google either. Thank you in advance!

  • IUfanPurduePhD

    And it doesn’t help that the games after this one are complete cupcakes.

  • Kris
  • IUHoosiers23

    Thank you, Kris!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/W76ZEHEUSYXFPFKI3LKWDIS5EU Pizzmachine

    Actually it does help since Perea and Jurkin will need some time to acclimate

  • briefus

    they won’t being playing sound for IU game will they? with the Cards playing at the same time?

  • dbmcubs21

    there are rumblings on another Hoosier site that Elston is cleared to play but might not be 100% yet. This is unconfirmed stuff by a few posters so we shall see.

  • JohnFromBeyond

    The Rotnei Clarke story is a good one. Reminds me alot of Jordy. Too bad we have to squish his team like a bug.

  • Abellham Lincoln

    The Cards play at 2:30. I called ahead and they said they would work with us on the sound. Hopefully they stay true to their word. UK plays at 12:30 so at least we wont have to deal with those people too much.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ChefDanThomas Dan Thomas

    If I wasn’t heading up to the game, I would love to come and watch with other IU fans. A Derby City Hoosier club sounds like a great idea!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steve-Fischer/691470077 Steve Fischer

    Playing on a date and playing in a game are not at all the same thing. Glad he’s getting healthier.

  • IUCubFan

    It looks like BTN is replaying this tomorrow at 8pm eastern time. It appears to be almost a full day of IU replays.

  • Remy Willing and Abell

    I can’t make it this time but please let me know in the future …thank you !

  • ChefDan

    Will there be an IU contingent watching the game at BWW today at 4:00? If so I would love to come an introduce myself and watch the game with other like minded Hoosier fans!

  • ChefDan

    Will there be an IU contingent watching the game at BWW today at 4:00? If so I would love to come an introduce myself and watch the game with other like minded Hoosier fans!

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