The Butler Bulldogs and Purdue Boilermakers head to Orlando over the holiday weekend to compete in the Old Spice Classic. Both teams are undefeated, and could play each other in the second round of the tournament.
The two teams are already set to face each other in a few weeks in the Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis on December 14th.
Purdue is coming off a fairly easy week that featured two wins against inferior opponents. The Boilers cruised over Eastern Illinois, 83-55, but were challenged by Siena before pulling away in the second half to win 81-73.
The win over Siena saw senior Terone Johnson score 15 points, which put him into the 1,000 point club for his career.
Purdue went up in the Pomeroy ratings this past week. The Boilers sit at 75 and have the 66th best offense and 114th defense.
Butler’s week was not nearly so simple. The Bulldogs were forced into overtime by a resilient Vanderbilt team. Vandy went on a 15-2 run over the final seven minutes to force the extra period. Butler was dominant in OT, and won 85-77.
The Bulldogs were then pushed to the brink at Ball State just a few days later. Elijah Brown led a 16-2 run over the final minutes of play to give Butler a 59-58 road win.
Butler currently sits at 69th in the Pomeroy ratings with the 114th offense, but sporting the 46th ranked defense.
Both teams will be challenged greatly in the upcoming tourney. Each team will play in three games, regardless of wins or losses. Three wins and you get to take home the trophy.
Old Spice Classic – Round 1
Nov. 28th – Purdue vs No. 5 Oklahoma State, 12pm ESPN2/WatchESPN
The Boilermakers will face their biggest challenge to date when they take on the Cowboys. Oklahoma State is undefeated with five dominating wins over all their opponents, including a 21-point victory over No. 11 Memphis. The Cowboys are fifth in the AP Top 25 and for good reason, as they have the second best offense in the nation.
Pomeroy has them as the No. 1 team and their adjusted offense is ranked fourth, coupled with the third best defense. They run an uptempo set that is averaging 100 points per game. Oklahoma State’s lowest scoring game was 93 points. Purdue’s best scoring output? 109, but the Boilers haven’t scored more than 83 points in any other game.
Marcus Smart and Markel Brown make up one of the best backcourts in the NCAA. Smart could have gone pro last year, but decided to stay and has already done a lot to improve his draft stock. He’s averaging 21 points per game to go along with nearly four assists. Most impressive, however, is his 4.2 steals per game to go along with his lock down defense. Brown has been kicking in 18 points a night and over four assists, while averaging a steal and nearly two blocks per game.
Those two alone are a force to be reckoned with and are going to make life on the court hell for the Johnson brothers. The key for Purdue will be keeping up on the scoreboard with the Cowboys. The Boilers want to play spoilers on Thursday, but it will take a heroic effort to knock off one of the best teams in the nation.
Purdue loses the opening game, and it likely won’t be pretty.
Nov. 28th – Butler vs Washington State, 2pm ESPN2/Watch ESPN
The Bulldogs take on a floundering 2-2 Cougars team tomorrow afternoon. Washington State has dropped its last two games, at No. 13 Gonzaga and home vs TCU. Pomeroy has them as the 160th ranked team, featuring the 206th ranked offense and 117th defense. Suffice it to say this isn’t a very good team.
Butler hasn’t been all that sharp this past week, but the Ball State game was clearly a wake up call. The Bulldogs are the better team and should win this game. The Cougars aren’t particularly adept at anything on the court. The team is led by DaVonte Lacy who is averaging 20 points per game. He is the team’s offense and when he plays poorly (i.e. can’t score or takes too many shots) the Cougars lose.
Butler has the talent to lock him down, and when they do the points will disappear for Washington State. Butler moves on in the winners bracket.
Butler will likely face Oklahoma State, if my predictions are correct. Its very likely that the Cowboys will roll past the Bulldogs in the same fashion as they did against Purdue. If ever there was a team to pull off the upset here, its Butler. The Bulldogs have a history of punching way above their weight class and delivering knockout blows, and that history extends past Brad Stevens’ coaching tenure.
That said, I don’t think they have the horses to run with the Cowboys and fall in a surprisingly close game.
Purdue should be able to handle Washington State, much in the same fashion Butler will. As we said, the Cougars are not a good team and the Boilers will be looking for a bounce back game after being taken apart by Oklahoma State. Purdue wins
On the other side of the bracket is:
Nov. 28th – No. 21 Memphis vs Siena, 6:30pm
Nov. 28th – LSU vs St. John’s 8:30pm
The format of the tourney is a bit confusing, but you can find the bracket here.
Purdue just faced Siena four days ago, and there’s a chance they could again this weekend.
The design of the tourney seems to be setting up a rematch between Memphis and Oklahoma State, who faced each other just over a week ago.
All things being equal, it looks like Purdue would face St. John’s in the third round while Butler takes on LSU. Those would be two very competitive games, both of which would be winnable for the Indiana teams.
We’ll keep you updated throughout the Old Spice Classic.
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