What to Expect: Butler

  • 12/16/2016 9:22 am in

Following a six-day layoff, Indiana returns to the floor on Saturday against No. 18 Butler in the Crossroads Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

The Bulldogs are 9-1 and are coming off a 75-65 win over Cincinnati last Saturday at Hinkle Fieldhouse. The game will be broadcast at 5 p.m. ET on the Big Ten Network with Brian Anderson and Shon Morris on the call:

The Crossroads Classic, now in its sixth season, will feature four ranked teams for the first time. It’s a complete sellout and the atmosphere should be terrific in one of the best venues anywhere for hoops.

The Hoosiers have had plenty of ups and downs in the Crossroads Classic, but are looking for their third straight win in the event. Two years ago, Indiana was excellent down the stretch in a nine-point win over Butler. Last season, Indiana overcame a 16-point deficit to beat Notre Dame, a win that was viewed by many as a turning point in the season.

With wins over Kansas and North Carolina already in the bag, Indiana is looking for another non-conference win that will matter come March. Butler already owns wins over Northwestern, Arizona, Vanderbilt, Utah and Cincinnati and a win over the Hoosiers would make its current resume even stronger heading into Big East play.


Two Butler players average in double figures – Kelan Martin and Andrew Chrabascz – but it’s clear who the primary offensive option is. Martin, a 6-foot-7 junior from Louisville, had a very good sophomore season, but has struggled a bit this season.

He’s a high usage, average efficiency player who is streaky. Martin’s 17.7 points per game leads the team, but his splits aren’t overly impressive right now. He’s making 34.9 percent of his 3s and 48.7 percent of his 2s. Here’s a graphic on the five possession types that are most common for Martin through Butler’s first 10 games:

The question with Martin isn’t if he’s going to score (he’s been in double figures every game), but rather how many shots he’s going to take to get there. He’s shot 50 percent or better just three times in 10 games and has three games below 40 percent.

The other pieces of the Butler offense are what makes this a top 20 offense a third of the way through the season. The aforementioned Chrabascz, a 6-foot-7 senior, is the second Bulldog averaging in double figures at 11 points per game.

Chrabascz is taking over 42 percent of his shots at the rim and he’s finishing 53 percent. He’s hitting just 34.2 percent of his 2-point jumpers, but 55.6 percent of his 3s. In 22 post-up possessions, he’s scored 21 points, which is good but not great. The Rhode Island native does a nice of getting to the line with a free throw rate (FTA/FGA) of 54 percent. Chrabascz is shooting 78 percent from the foul line.

Tyler Wideman, a 6-foot-8, 240 pound junior, primary operates offensively in three areas: post-ups, as the roll man in pick-and-roll and cuts to the basket. Of his 65 offensive possessions, 45 of them fall into those three categories. Over 79 percent of his shots are coming at the rim and he’s making 77.1 percent. He’s also Butler’s best offensive (11.6 OR%) and defensive (19.7 DR%) rebounder.

Rounding out the frontcourt rotation is Nate Fowler, a 6-foot-10 sophomore. In limited attempts, Fowler is shooting 73.9 percent on 2s and has made three of his four attempted 3-point shots. Freshman Joey Brunk, a former Indiana recruiting target, isn’t in the rotation at this point.

Butler’s backcourt is strong despite the losses of Roosevelt Jones and Kellen Dunham. Tyler Lewis, a McDonald’s All-American who transferred from North Carolina State, is in his second season at the point for Chris Holtmann. Lewis is 35th in the country in assist rate (36.5 percent) and has been Butler’s most efficient player so far. He’s making 47.4 percent of his 3s, a ridiculous 72.4 percent of his 2s and 72 percent from the foul line.

Freshman Kamar Baldwin started against Cincinnati, but typically comes off the bench. Baldwin has scored efficiently, but doesn’t get many assists nor does he get to the foul line. He’s turnover prone (24.5 TO%), but an excellent defender. The 6-foot Baldwin is fourth in the country in steal percentage.

Avery Woodson, a graduate transfer from Memphis, is a capable 3-point shooter (41.8 percent) who doesn’t turn it over (4.8 TO%). Sean McDermott, a 6-foot-6 redshirt freshman from Pendleton Heights, is hitting 44 percent of his 3s in a low usage role. McDermott is using less than 12 percent of possessions while on the floor.

Kethan Savage, a 6-foot-3 guard who sat out last season as a transfer from George Washington, has appeared in just six games after an illness sidelined him to begin the season. His effective field goal percentage (23.1 percent) is the lowest of any player in the rotation.


There are plenty of similarities on the profiles of Indiana and Butler, but there are two clear areas worth watching.

Turnovers are a problem for Indiana on both ends. The Hoosiers are committing them at a high rate and aren’t forcing many on defense. Butler, meanwhile, is one of the top 20 teams in the country in terms of taking care of the ball and is in the top 25 in terms of turnovers forced.

Where Indiana has a chance to really hurt Butler is on the glass. Indiana is an elite offensive rebounding team and above average on the defensive glass. The Bulldogs are above average on the defensive boards as well, but are just 220th nationally in offensive rebounding.


The KenPom projection is Indiana by 1 with a 53 percent chance of a Hoosier win. Sagarin likes Indiana by 2.5 and the Vegas line won’t be out until Friday afternoon.

OG Anunoby is expected to play, which should give Indiana a major boost defensively and with the different lineups it will be able to deploy. With Anunoby healthy, the Hoosiers have four legitimate frontcourt bodies to mix and match and a significant size advantage up front.

Butler will likely try to play at a slower pace, so it’s important for Indiana to start well to avoid a grind it out halfcourt game. While it’s not as simple as “take care of the ball and win” for the Hoosiers, the turnover numbers will play a significant factor. That’s not to say that IU can’t turn it over 20 times and still win, but the Hoosiers would likely need a hot shooting performance to do so.

From the Butler perspective, finding ways to get Martin open looks will be crucial. Indiana will probably rotate Anunoby, Juwan Morgan and Robert Johnson on him throughout the game. The Bulldogs also need to keep Indiana off of the offensive boards, which few teams have been able to do.

With just 12 days until the start of Big Ten play, this is a prime opportunity to learn more about the progress the Hoosiers have made over the last couple of weeks, which have been made up primarily of practice and getting Anunoby healthy.

(Photo credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images North America)

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  • Arch Puddington

    Well, yeah, 22 is more than we can likely afford. But for whatever reason I’m just not as sold on them as others seem to be. i probably should be. They’ve beaten a couple of good teams and blown out most of the cupcakes on their schedule, so they are doing something right. The loss to Indiana State doesn’t mean much to me. Upsets happen. The last time I got this definitive about a game was last year before we played at Penn State. I was certain we had crossed a threshold of focus and execution that wouldn’t allow us to lose. We lost. Hopefully my sense is more accurate this time.


    I don’t think Butler will be able to keep up with our transition game.


    If that’s the case, we have to be physical right back.




    I wish we could get an update on CH like we’ve been getting these updates about OG. I would LOVE to see CH and ZM on the floor at the same time- diving and hustling all over the place.

  • Fifer39

    I don’t necessarily disagree with your argument that shooting > turnovers but the thing that doesn’t show up in the stats is the impact of when the turnovers happen. College hoops is a game of runs and turnovers at crucial times can’t half be momentum killers. I agree with you and others though, we shouldn’t be scared of them. We need to push the pace and play at our tempo and if that means an extra few turnovers then so be it.

  • N71

    Duke was the other one I considered putting ahead of us but we’ve beaten both Kansas and UNC which are super, super solid squads. I’m sticking with #2, UCLA has looked great.

  • pcantidote

    Yep, I think we’ve taken not having CH for granted. I can’t even tell you how excited I would be about our first 7 if we had a full strength CH. Wow.

  • And One

    Absolutely, Arch. You are, undoubtedly, correct. As a fictional coach once said, “I’ve seen you can shoot, but there’s more to the game than shooting.” I’m not as worried about our shooting. We have enough shooters to cover for a guy having an off night. Do I take our shooting and rebounding too much for granted? Maybe. But we have demonstrated proficiency in those areas, so I think my confidence is somewhat justified. The TOs, though, are a cause of much floor-pounding for me. I admit I: I don’t handle it well. This paticular game contrasts our area of weakness with a relative strength on the part of Butler. If we don’t cherish the ball, even if it’s as you say and we handle these guys anyway, I’m liable to end up watching the second half by myself, my family having decided to stay at a hotel.


    I know. His leadership alone is so valuable. I’m sure that CH does his best to lead this team from the bench, but it’s just not the same as being on the court and leading by example.


    Yeah I hear ya, that’s a HUGE difference!


    Agreed. Double digit win.


    Whaaaa!? IPFW taught this team something that we needed… we will STOMP this Butler team!

  • Piker

    I agree. You can play fast and limit turnovers. I am with you much yelling will occur and my family including hounds will abandon me if we play sloppy and turn over 20 plus. We don’t when it all being a 20 plus turnover team. As I posted before play fast but in control, push it, take it if it’s there, back it out if not. Make there front line run and our depth will wear them out. Shooting comes and goes. Need fundemental basketball skills around D, Rebounding, TOs to become great. Do this and when the shooting is good …good night anyone else in country.

  • Ms hoosier

    I feel your pain Piker… I get mad and do much yelling myself when they get sloppy my daughter videos me yelling on her phone without me knowing it and sends it to her friends

  • Cleveland Hoosier

    Evening all,

    Apropos of nothing, I went to the Cavs Grizzlies game Tuesday and Troy looked special. I think his game is more geared towards the NBA style. Watching him live, I think he could be an all star in a few years if he develops a threatening jumper.

    Anyways, Hoosiers win by 12 against Butler. I can’t wait to see us “out-fundamental” a team. Hope I’m right.

    I’m driving up from Cleveland for the Louisville game; hope some of y’all can make it.

  • Cleveland Hoosier

    Even after the the IPFW loss?

  • That was the difference in both the KU and UNC games. We came out competing from the tipoff. The opposite of IPFW, of course. With TB’s elevated leadership, I expect faster starts, especially against the better competition.

  • We’re not averaging 22.2 turnovers a game, our turnover percentage is 22.2%. Bit of a difference. Still way too high, of course, so just being precise.

  • I’m not predicting anything in this game, but I do agree with you that the team’s mentality will be key. That’s aided tremendously by the IPFW loss–this team knows that they can lose to anybody, and there’s no way they’re going to fail to take Butler seriously. And I don’t believe that the players care less about the game than Butler does–I’m certain they have goals for this season, and they know how important every game will be come March.

  • Arch Puddington

    Our reasons may be different, but I think you and I watch games in the same way. I talk to the TV a lot, and I often pause and rewind to explain to my wife and kids some subtlety that I think is fascinating; they either endure in silence or find other things to do.

  • Not a good first half.

  • ForeverIU

    We’re still the better team. I still think we’ll win it. My voodoo doll on full throttle. Butler is effing annoying the way they’re jacking up 3s.

  • Ridiculous shooting.

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Turnovers are killing IU.

  • Especially at the end of the half. So many unforced turnovers.

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Absolutely. Butler is also going to be early in the Bonus 2nd half.

  • Piker

    Yeah I noticed that too my bad. So I looked up our average possesions about 76 and our average TOS 16.2. We will not beat good teams ranked 327 in TOs. Butler got 17 points off our 13 TOS faster more athletic teams may beat that percentage. The best percentage teams average 10 a game so 13 was not bad except combined with our shooting put us in a big hole in the first half. And we cannot dig ourselves out of those deficits against top 20 teams. We will have an early exit in tourney if we continue to accept a TO ranking of 327 because shooting will not carry you to the title alone. Need the D and TOS fixed. Not worried about rebounding we have that. I know preaching to the choir.