Big Ten Weekend Look Ahead: 12.19.15 Edition

Posted by Alex Moscoso on December 19th, 2015

After a quiet week for the league, this weekend storms in with some great games. The centerpiece of the next two days will be the Crossroads Classic, an event that takes the four most prestigious programs from the country’s most basketball-rich state and pairs them together in Indianapolis. It’s turned into one of the premier events before conference plays begins. Here is your weekend preview:

The Crossroads Classic

The Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis is upon us once again this Saturday.

  • Northwestern at Depaul (Saturday, 2:00 PM ET, FS1). People may not have noticed, but Northwestern is 9-1 with its sole loss against North Carolina–a game which was at least competitive in the first half. Not many have jumped on the Wildcats’ bandwagon because their schedule as of today has been laughable. Only two of their wins have come from teams ranked higher than #175 on KenPom and both those wins came in overtime. A win at DePaul (5-5) wouldn’t convert many to be believers, but it would represent Northwestern’s best win of the season (given their light schedule thus far).
  • Notre Dame vs Indiana (Saturday, 2:00 PM ET, ESPN2). This is the opener to the Crossroads Classic and Mike Brey decided to turn up the heat to it when he said yesterday that Notre Dame was the most consistent program in the state, “and it isn’t close”. It’s not certain whether his statement was a direct shot at their upcoming opponents, the only blueblood program in the state, or it was just innocuous praise for himself and assistant coaches. Either way, it should be a highly entertaining and frenetic game as both these teams have Top 5 offenses paired with pedestrian defenses. The game might come down to whoever makes the most threes or who has the most transition points. Grab the popcorn before you watch this one.

  • Kentucky vs Ohio State (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, CBS). The Buckeyes will be the overwhelming underdogs when they go into Brooklyn on Saturday afternoon. Kentucky’s young team is exponentially more talented than underclassmen that make up Thad Matta’s roster. But however the game goes, we’ll at least be treated to an interesting matchup when Ohio State’s leading scorer Marc Loving (15.9 PPG) tries to score inside against Marcus Lee and Skal Labissiere–both block almost one out of every 10 of their opponents’ 2-pt field goal attempts. If Loving can be aggressive–specifically if he targets the easily pushed-around Labisiere–the Buckeyes may make a game out of it.
  • #17 Butler vs #9 Purdue (Saturday, 5:00 PM ET, BTN). This is the game of the weekend. After decimating their less-than-stellar opponents by an average of 25.8 points and amassing an 11-0 record, the Boilermakers finally face their first ranked opponent. The game will likely be decided by who wins the battle between Butler’s offense and Purdue’s defense, fifth and first in KenPom, respectively. Roosevelt Jones, Andrew Chrabascz, and Tyler Wideman will have their hands full when they try to score on A.J. Hammons, Isaac Haas, and Caleb Swanigan. Given the strength of both teams, the crowd environment, and rivalry, it’ll be must see TV regardless of the outcome.
Alex Moscoso (170 Posts)

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