The Irish suffered heartbreak in cruel fashion last Saturday night, courtesy of a game-winning three-pointer with 0.1 seconds left by UCLA’s Kris Wlkes to hand Notre Dame its second-straight loss. Mike Brey’s young squad has had a week to recover from the deflating defeat (well, actually, they recovered by laboring through final exams), and now face another tough test Saturday afternoon against Purdue in the 2018 Crossroads Classic.
This Notre Dame team is incredibly young and inexperienced, and despite being one of Brey’s best recruiting classes ever, growing pains were inevitable, which is what we’re seeing now. The 6-4 Boilermakers are being given a 68.4 percent chance to win, based on ESPN’s Basketball Power Index. Simply put, if the Irish want to defy those odds and pull off the upset, they’ll have to shoot better. In the loss to UCLA, the Irish somehow erased a 14-point deficit, while shooting just 36 percent from the floor.
- The Irish have lost three-straight Crossroads Classic games, which are played annual by the Irish, Purdue, Butler and Indiana
- This will be the 44th meeting all-time between the Irish and the Boilermakers, and it’s been pretty much dead even throughout their history, with the Irish holding a 22-21 advantage.
- Purdue has already faced three ranked opponents in the young season, going 1-2 in that span. The lone victory was a two-point win against then 23rd ranked Maryland.
Where, When and How to Watch
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse
When: Saturday, December 15th at 1:30 p.m. ET
Purdue Boilermakers (6-4)
The Boilermakers are actually in a similar situation as the Irish, battling through some growing pains that has seen them drop multiple close games so far, most recently a 72-68 loss at Texas. Always a consistent basketball program, the Boilermakers have reached the NCAA Tournament in 10 of the last 13 seasons, but like the Irish, they are in danger of missing out this season. Saturday will be a battle of young and inexperienced teams searching for identity.
Boilermaker to Watch
Carsen Edwards, Guard, Junior
Edwards is a streaky shooter who caught fire against Texas, dropping 40 points while hitting seven threes on the way to his career night. The previous game against Maryland, he shot just 4-for-15 from the floor. Still, the junior is averaging 25.5 points per game (tops in the Big Ten) and is averaging over 43 percent from the field for a second-straight season, so the Irish defense will have to contain him.
The Boilermakers rank 11th in the Big Ten in rebounding, and Mooney leads the Irish with just under 10 boards per game. Plus, aside from Rex Pflueger, Mooney is the only Notre Dame shooter who seems to be feeling it from long range, so look for Brey to get Mooney some corner looks to get the offense going.