The theme of the Crossroads Classic, if you’re the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, is easily that of blown leads. The Irish blew big leads against Indiana and Purdue the past two years, which led to losses in the event. On Saturday afternoon in Indianapolis, a similar story unfolded.
The Irish built up double-digit leads on a few different occasions against a 5-5 Indiana Hoosiers team, only to end up in a tense overtime battle with Archie Miller’s squad. Indiana’s only lead was an early 11-9 lead in the first half, but the Hoosiers were able to stick with the Irish despite an inability to get anything going on offense and an abundance of turnovers. This was mostly due to Indiana out-rebounding Notre Dame by a great margin. The rebounding thing would be a theme later on, too.
However, Notre Dame looked like it was going to take control in the second half, coming out 6/7 from the floor and building another double-digit lead. That’s when Indiana just refused to go away. When it mattered, they did not play like a 5-5 team (that has been pretty awful). This was encapsulated by an offensive rebound and dunk that put the Hoosiers up by two late in overtime. Off of a missed free throw, nonetheless.
However, the story here in my opinion is that Matt Farrell and Bonzie Colson choked in ways that are uncharacteristic for Notre Dame basketball players. Hopefully, this is not a theme moving forward for the Irish. Matt Farrell has already proven clutch in games such as the Wichita State game this year and last year against teams like Virginia Tech. But there is no Steve Vasturia to defer to if the Irish need a late boost. That’s an expected growing pain, but a frustrating one, as we’re so used to coach Mike Brey inserting another junior or senior to fill the void.
Indiana shot 50 percent from the floor and 38 percent from three (somehow), compared to Notre Dame’s 41 and 30 percent, respectively. Colson had 29 points and 11 rebounds. The Irish have dropped three of their last five, and will host Dartmouth on Tuesday.
I leave you with this: the last time the Fighting Irish lost to Indiana in the Crossroads Classic, they ended up playing in the Elite Eight.