For the second time in the history of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge Purdue will head to Clemson. The Boilermakers have won three games in a row in the challenge, helping the Big Ten win each time. Before that Purdue was 2-6 all-time as the challenge coincided with the dreadful end of the Gene Keady era.
This is the third time Purdue and Clemson have played in the challenge with each team winning on its home court. Purdue won 76-64 in the 2003 challenge at Mackey Arena while Clemson won 61-58 over the Baby Boilers in 2007, mostly because Chris Kramer knocked himself silly on the basket support in the second half and deprived Purdue of key leadership late.
Location: Clemson, SC
2011-12 record: 16-15, 8-8 ACC
2012-13 Record: 4-1
RPI: 174 (Purdue is 215)
2012 Postseason: None
Blog Representation: Shakin' the Southland
Series With Purdue: Clemson leads 3-1
Last Purdue win: 76-64 at Purdue on 12/3/2003
Last Clemson win: 61-58 at Clemson on 11/27/2007
Odds: Clemson by 6
Clemson is off to a 4-1 start this season but has played just one decent opponent. They lost 57-49 to Gonzaga in the Old Spice Classic (which Purdue will play in next year) in Orlando. The Tigers beat UTEP and Marist in the consolations rounds, and those two teams are a combined 3-7. Clemson opened this season with a 77-44 win over Presbyterian (who is 0-6) and at Furman 72-55 (who is 2-3).
It is clear that Purdue has played a much tougher schedule with Bucknell and Oregon State being top 60 RPI teams, but it is still very early. It looks like this will be an even matchup, and both teams will see their RPIs go up as the stronger conference schedules ahead provide a boost.
Clemson is a very balanced team with Milton Jennings (10.8 ppg), Devin Booker (10.4 ppg), and K.J. McDaniels (10.4 ppg) as their three leading scorers. Clemson only averages 65 points per game, which is 235th in Division 1. They are a patient team, however, shooting 46.3% from the field.
An advantage they have is that Jennings and Booker are both senior bigs that have been four-year players over the course of their careers. Jay Simpson, Donnie Hale, and A.J. Hammons cannot come close to their experience and guile in the post, so this should be a very good test for their youth. The same is true for Jacob Lawson. McDaniels is also a 6'6" small forward that may play D.J. Byrd straight up.
As you can see, their strength is in the front court. Damarcus Harrison and Adonis Flier give them very young guards to go up against Ronnie Johnson and Terone Johnson. Sophomore rod Hall also leads the team in assists at 4.4 per game. Clemson does not shoot a lot of threes (29 of 71), but Jennings and McDaniels present a matchup problem because they have hit roughly half of Clemson's triples as a team.
Filer may be a familiar name to some Purdue fans. In 2011 he led Hammond Noll to a Class 2A State Runner-up finish. Hammond Noll was 26-1 that season with the only loss coming by a point to Kevin Ferrell and Trevon Bluiett's Park Tudor team. Filer averaged 16 points per game that season and had 19 points and seven rebounds in the title game, but missed the last second putback for the win. Purdue actually showed some interest in him, but he went to prep school before surfacing at Clemson as a freshman this year.
Booker, Jennings, and McDaniels are also the top rebounders, but Purdue has been the better rebounding team against better competition. Clemson will take care of the ball (only nine turnovers per game) and their defense is forcing six steals per contest. T.J. Sapp and Jordan Roper are both dangerous three-point options off the bench as well.
This will be an interesting matchup because the teams are almost mirror images. That often means it comes down to shooting and free throws. Clemson is 40% from long range and 66% from the line. Purdue is 25% from three and 64.6 from the line.
This is pretty much a must-win for Purdue if it is going to the NCAA Tournament. A true road win over a major conference opponent is like gold. Since we've already missed on three chances for a decent non-conference win we cannot afford to miss on this one or on Saturday against Xavier. I feel like this is the tipping point for the season. Come out of the next two games at 4-3 and we're all feeling pretty good again. Come out of it at 2-5 and suddenly the NIT looks like an uphill battle.
Purdue has been the higher scoring team and the better rebounding team so far, so I think the Boilers get it done somehow. Purdue 71, Clemson 68
Picking the other games:
Florida State over Minnesota - I think the Seminoles learned a lot from an early loss to South Alabama.
Iowa over Virginia Tech - The Hawkeyes have struggled, but they are finding ways to win.
Michigan over NC State - How on earth was NC State considered a top 10 team?
Wake Forest over Nebraska - Never trust Nebrasketball on the road.
Maryland over Northwestern - Worry Willie, no quality win for you.
Indiana over North Carolina - Never bet against Indiana in "The Hall of Calls".
Wisconsin over Virginia - How about giving the Badgers a challenge?
Michigan State over Miami - Michigan State lost to Connecticut. Miami lost to Florida... Gulf Coast. Ouch
Illinois over Georgia Tech - John Groce for early COTY in the B1G!
Boston College over Penn State - Penn State at least had some fight inbeating Bucknell.
Duke over Ohio State - The Buckeyes finally get exposed. No way they are a top 5 team.
Big Ten wins 7-5.