With possibly the toughest non-conference schedule of the Matt Painter era and the toughest Big Ten lineup in many years our Boilers can afford to have a few slip-ups along the way and still make the NCAA Tournament. As I've stated numerous times, the Bucknell loss is far from a bad one as they are going to hover in the top 100 all year and possibly be an NCAA team. The better we do the higher their RPI will go since their strength of schedule is now tied to us.
That's not to say we want to make losing a regular thing. Purdue still needs to go out and win some of these tougher non-conference games, especially the ones away from Mackey Arena like Villanova, Friday's game, Notre Dame, and Clemson. One of the best benefits of playing a number of major conference teams is that their RPIs often stay relatively strong even if they don't do well because they play a lot of stronger teams. Villanova is one such team, who win or lose will still be a nice opponent because the Big East will lift their RPI quite high.
Location: Philadelphia, PA
2011-12 record: 13-19, 5-13 Big East
2012-13 Record: 2-0
2012 Postseason: None
Blog Representation: VU Hoops
Series With Purdue: Villanova Leads 1-0
Last Meeting: Villanova 67, Purdue 50 on 12/9/1995 in Anaheim, CA (Villanova was ranked No. 2 at the time)
The last time Purdue and Villanova play you had a relatively experienced Purdue team lose to them, only to go on to win the Big Ten and earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. That was in the 1995 John Wooden Classic in California with names like Herb Dove, Roy Hairston, Brandon Brantley, Todd Foster, Justin Jennings, Porter Roberts, Brad Miller, Chad Austin, and a very young Brian Cardinal with a full head of hair redshirtting on the bench.
This year's edition is coming off of a recent low point of 13-19 last year. That broke a streak of seven straight years in the NCAA Tournament that included a Final Four appearance in 2009 and a No. 1 seed in 2006.
There was a lot of turnover from that team. Leading scorer Maalik Wayns, who averaged 17.6 points per game, is gone to the NBA with the crosstown 76ers. Dominic Cheek, who averaged 12.5 per game, while the third scorer in double figures, Mouphtaou Yarou, is down to 6.5 points per game so far after averaging 11.3 points and 8.2 rebounds last season.
Yarou is a 6'10" 255 pounds senior that has been through the battles for them. Sandi Marcius, A.J. Hammons, and the rest of our young post players will be challenged by him. He also has depth like we do in Maurice Sutton (9 ppg, 4.5 rpg) and Daniel Ochefu (3.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg) as 6'10" or better players with him in the post.
Villanova has long been guard heavy and this year is no different. Ryan Arcidiacono was a top 50 recruit nationally last year and has come in to play like it so far. The 6'3" point guard from Langhorne, PA is averaging 18 points, 3.5 rebounds, and five assts per game in wins over the District of Columbia (78-58) and Marshall (80-68). His assist and turnover numbers are very similar to our own Ronnie Johnson, but his scoring is higher.
James Bell (14 ppg, 4 rpg) and Darrun Hilliard (10.5 ppg) are playing roughly the same number of minutes but are big 6'6" guards whose production is up and they could give us trouble. Terone Johnson's ankle needs to be healthy since we need him as our best perimeter defender against these two.
Through two games Purdue has an 83-78 rebounding edge while having played the best opponent of the four in Bucknell. Even as sloppy as Purdue was in turnovers against Hofstra, the Wildcats have turned the ball over more. Villanova is a much better three-point shooting team, averaging seven per game and hitting at a 36% clip as a team. Arcidiacono is 6 of 15 from long range to lead the team with Bell and Achraf Yacoubou each 3 of 7.
This is an interesting team because it features two very young teams that have talent, but lack experience. Sutton and Yarou are the only two seniors on the roster, much like Dru Anthrop and D.J. Byrd are for us. They two have five freshmen who are trying to figure out roles in the offense.
One slight advantage Purdue has is that it has already been tested. This will be a game to show how much Purdue has grown from the Bucknell loss. It also lets Purdue played with Terone Johnson against a quality opponent for the first time since he missed the opener.
It is hard to make a call on this one because youth will play such a big role. Villanova has experience in the post, but it is not providing production like Donnie Hale and Marcius have given. The point guard battle between RJ and Arcidiacono will be fascinating since both are exciting true freshmen.
Villanova has an edge from the free throw line, shooting six percentage points better and they are getting there at a much better clip. The Wildcats are 44 of 66 as a team from the line with JayVaughn Pinkston and Arcidiacono getting to the line most often. Purdue is just 17 of 28 as a team.
Purdue needs to stay out of foul trouble, play solid perimeter defense, and get the scoring and rebounding production out of the post I know we're capable of. Things appeared to go much more smoothly on Sunday than they did on Friday, so hopefully that is a trend. This is not quite a must-win, but getting it would help the overall season profile quite a bit. Purdue 72, Villanova 70