No. 1 Indiana gets stronger with 2 freshmen back

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One thing Butler hasn’t done yet: Beat a No. 1 team. In its only other meetings with the nation’s top-ranked team, Butler lost at DePaul in February 1980 and at Michigan during the 1964-65 season.

This time, they’ll play Indiana five miles from the Butler campus with a team that has steadily improved.

Butler’s game plan revolves around two new hotshot shooters _ Rotnei Clarke, the big-shooting guard who was an All-SEC player at Arkansas, and Kellen Dunham. Plus, 7-foot senior Andrew Smith and power forward Khyle Marshall have been playing better. Smith is coming off a 24-point, 10-rebound game at Northwestern, maybe the best game of his career, and Marshall has become an imposing inside threat.

Coach Brad Stevens nearly had Zeller to go along with that group, but he choose Indiana over Butler and North Carolina.

“They’re No. 1 for a reason, they’re very deep. I think they’ve got great skill, great athleticism and a selfless superstar,” Stevens said of the Hoosiers. “I think they’ll be the team to beat all the way through April.”

While the Indiana-Butler game is Saturday’s main feature, it’s not the only popular attraction in town.

Notre Dame forwards Jack Cooley and Scott Martin will lead No. 22 Notre Dame (8-1) against the young Boilermakers (4-5). These schools, just 108 miles apart, haven’t met on the basketball court since the 2004 NIT and the series is tied 20-20.

Martin, once part of a Purdue recruiting class dubbed the Baby Boilers, has downplayed the significance of facing his old school.

“I had some good times and some big wins, so I definitely enjoyed myself there (at Purdue),” Martin said. “Obviously, it didn’t work out, and I don’t think anyone was too thrilled about the way things happened, but I don’t think anyone’s bitter about it.”

The Boilermakers have struggled this season with three losses already to non-power conference schools _ Bucknell, Xavier and last Saturday at Eastern Michigan 47-44. Their only win against a BCS-conference school came at Clemson.

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