Dec. 21, 2014
It's no accident that the public-address announcer in Indianapolis Saturday welcomes the crowd to the marquee college doubleheader by saying, "Welcome to Bankers Life Fieldhouse, in the heart of basketball country."
With that in mind, what could be better on an overcast 32-degree almost-Christmas weekend afternoon than a road trip to see the 21st-rated Notre Dame men's basketball team take on Purdue--following the lid-lifter between 23rd-ranked Butler and Indiana?
It's the fourth year of the Crossroads Classic event, now extended to 2019--with Butler having won in each of the three previous years to post the best record. The Irish, winners of two straight over Purdue in 2012 and Indiana in 2013, look for a third straight series victory.
9 a.m.--It's a little chilly in South Bend, but coffee jumpstarts the day. Meanwhile, Notre Dame assistant athletics director Brian Pracht, who is this year's tournament director, is already on hand at the arena.
10 a.m.--The closer we get to Indianapolis, the more stickers and decals we see on bumpers and windows, all representing the four schools participating.
Noon--Lunch at Nine Irish Brothers on Massachusetts Avenue sounds like a perfect tip-off to the basketball action, even if there are Hoosier fans dressed in red taking part as well.
1:30 p.m. -The doors open at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. There's lots of red in the house. There may not be many students in attendance with all four schools finished with final exams, but 14,753 fans head to downtown Indy, including plenty of families and kids.
1:45 p.m. - The Butler pep band plays Christmas carols to set the mood.
2 p.m. - Mark Cuban appears on the video board in the Indiana institutional message.
2:02 p.m. - Butler mascot Trip mugs for the video board camera.
2:15 p.m. - There's a sighting of Eddie White, the former Notre Dame media relations assistant who now handles corporate communications for the Indiana Pacers.
2:18 p.m. - Indiana and Butler leave the floor for final instructions, while Trip hits the floor on his leash.
2:20 p.m. - The Butler bands plays the National Anthem. The Bulldogs are in white, the Hoosiers in red.
2:30 p.m. - According to the PA announcer, "In the state of Indiana, no one sits for the tipoff."
2:32 p.m. - Butler's Andrew Chrabacz makes it 2-0 wit the first bucket of the afternoon.
2:40 .m. - Indiana hits a pair of threes and goes up 10-8 at the first media timeout.
2:45 p.m. - Tied at 15 after another Indiana three.
2:47 p.m. - Another media timeout at 11:29 has Indiana up 17-15 as the Hoosier fight song booms.
2:59 p.m. - The Hoosiers maintain a 26-22 advantage as Butler senior guard Alex Barlow draws his second foul.
3:08 .m. - Indiana rolls to a 35-25 advantage on two Troy Williams free throws at the 4:24 mark.
3:17 p.m. - Barlow's third foul sends him to the Butler bench at 2:03.
3:19 p.m. - Butler goes on a tear and Kellen Dunham's three ties the game at 38 late. His shot produces the biggest buzz of the day so far, and he's now got 18 points (4-6 on field goals and 9-9 at the line).
3:23 p.m. - It remains 38-38 at the break.
3:50 p.m. - At the first media timeout it's still tied at 45, and Barlow earns his fifth foul.
3:58 p.m. - It's Dance-cam on the video boards and lots of kids show their wares. One end-zone spectator in a white dress shirt and jeans is a repeat performer on the board. Indiana's Yogi Ferrell hadn't scored at halftime, but he now has 13.
4:07 p.m. - The Hoosiers take a 65-61 edge after a length of the court drive by James Blackmon Jr. following a block at the other end.
4:15 p.m. - Butler calls a timeout at 4:47, down 71-65.
4:20--Ferrell hits a three and the Hoosiers are now on top 76-65.
4:22 p.m.--Butler brings it back to 76-70 and Ferrell hits a coupe of free throws. Indiana calls two straight timeouts when it can't inbound the ball, but Ferrell hits the 20-point mark at :48.3 with two more free throws.
4:35 p.m.--The final is 82-73 for Indiana.
4:40 p.m. - The Irish take the court in their gold uniforms, with Purdue in black.
4:45 p.m. - The video boards shows a Tweet: "Drove from Baltimore to watch ND in a romp. #crossroadsclassic"
4:55 p.m. - The Notre Dame institutional spot runs, followed by the Victory March. Former Irish players Chris Thomas and Jason Williams, both from Indianapolis, are among the fans behind the Irish bench.
5:05 p.m. - The leprechaun and Boilermaker Pete play one on one. It's not hard to see why they serve as mascots--not many shots make the mark.
5:10 p.m. - On social media there's a photo of the Butler bulldog with the leprechaun. Trip says, "This guy says he's lucky. Great, where was he two hours ago?"
5:12 p.m. - The Irish return to the court to the Victory March.
5:21 p.m. - In the first 54 seconds 7-2 Purdue freshman Isaac Haas hits a basket, commits a foul and heads to the bench. After success a week ago against Florida State's three big men, this is another test to see how the Irish fare against a taller lineup.
5:23 p.m. - Zach Auguste commits a foul in the first three minutes trying to defend inside, and a pair of Purdue threes make it 12-8 for the Boilers at 14:40.
5:30 p.m. - Auguste gets a hoop and Hass has a second foul.
5:35 p.m. - Two traveling violations in a row on Purdue.
5:37 p.m. - An Austin Burgett drive puts the Irish up 17-16.
5:45 p.m. - At the 7:37 media timeout it's 26-22 Purdue.
5:58 p.m. - A.J. Hammons, Purdue's other big guy, merits his second foul at 4:21 and Grant's free throws keeps Notre Dame up 36-31.
6 p.m. - Indiana coach Tom Crean is done for the day and he stops at press row to take a quick look at the Boilers.
6:06 .m. - The Irish hit three free throws and take a 45-36 advantage.
6:13 p.m. - At the half Notre Dame leads 46-39.
6:15 p.m. - During halftime two dozen young girls dressed in red are pros at jump-roping for the Pop Rocks from the Troy (Ohio) School District.
6:32 p.m. - The second half begins with Auguste called for his third foul, so Austin Torres checks in. At 17:25 Torres briefly leaves with a banged knee but quickly returns.
6:38 p.m. - In the play of the day, Demetrius Jackson rises up and thunder-dunks over the 7-2 Hass. The plays merits three replays on the board.
6:41 p.m. - Connaughton, who already has 12 rebounds, dunks, Grant hits a three and suddenly it's 59-46 for the Irish.
6:43 p.m. - Auguste gets his fourth foul at 12:57 but it may not matter the way Notre Dame is playing.
6:50 p.m. - At the 11:23 media time Notre Dame leads 63-50. Jingle Bells plays during the break.
6:53 p.m. - Auguste fouls out at 10:44 with 10 points and three rebounds.
6:55 p.m. - Purdue calls time after a four-on-one break by Notre Dame that ends in a Martin Geben dunk for 65-51.
7:02 p.m.--Purdue has to call another time at 7:39 down 72-51. The points are coming easily now for the Irish.
7:07 p.m. -- At 2:37 the Irish substitute liberally--leading 87-57 after threes by Connaughton and Jackson. Torres ends up with 11 points and obviously is giving the Irish another solid option off the bench.
7:14 p.m. - The final is 94-63 for Notre Dame and the Irish are 11-1. The Irish may appear undersized, but they pass their second straight test against a much larger lineup.
11 p.m. - It's a more than pleasant drive back to South Bend after a full day of hoops in the Hoosier State.
by John Heisler, Senior Associate Athletics Director