USA TODAY Sports
Purdue is on the road for the second time this season.
For the first time during the 2012-13 basketball season Purdue can move above .500 overall as the Boilermakers travel to Ypsilanti, Michigan for the final game before fall Finals week. Like many games coming up, this is virtually a must-win for Purdue. A loss to a MAC team, especially a middling one, is a bad one. While Purdue will get a slight RPI bump from winning another true road game, you simply want to come out of this one with the W. It does not necessarily have to be pretty. Fortunately, Purdue has played its basketball of the season in a true road game this year already.
Eastern Michigan Eagles
Location: Ypsilanti, Michigan
2011-12 record: 14-18, 9-7 MAC
2012-13 Record: 5-2
2012 Postseason: None
Blog Representation: Eagle Totem
Series With Purdue: Purdue leads 3-0
Last Purdue win: 61-36 at Purdue on 12/10/11
TV: ESPN 3/Watch ESPN
Odds: No Line
We should be very familiar with the eagles of late. Of the three previous meetings, two have come within the last five years. Purdue won 87-58 in the 2008 Preseason NIT and last year Purdue took a regular season game. This is the first game in the series to be played outside of Mackey Arena, however.
So far Eastern Michigan is 5-2, but they have a pair of wins over Madonna and Rochester College, who are not even Division I schools. Their most recent game came Monday in an 84-48 thrashing at Syracuse. The only Division I teams they have beaten are IPFW, Eastern Illinois, and Texas-Pan American.
Purdue rolled to an easy victory at Mackey Arena last season by holding the eagles to 36 points. Eastern Michigan scored just 14 in the second half and were led by Derek Thompson with 15.
Thompson is back and so far has been the leading scorer at 13.6 points per game. Daylen Harrison averages 12.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game and he did not play against Purdue last season. The third scorer in double figures is 6'8" Glenn Bryant, who averages 11.6 points and five rebounds per game. He also did not play against Purdue last season.
Eastern Michigan has some size for a MAC team. Matt Balkema is a 6'10" senior center, but he only plays 15 minutes per game and averages 2.3 points and three rebounds. Forward Jamell Harris is 6'9" and averages 3.3 points and the same number of rebounds per game. He scored eight points in last year's game.
Eastern Michigan will turn the ball over, averaging 14 mistakes per game. They aren't a great three-point shooting team, but Thompson is a dangerous 21 of 51 from long range. Purdue's dominance of the glass should continue as Eastern Michigan shoots only 40% as a team from the field. The Eagles are a very low scoring team, rating just 298th in the country out of 343 teams. Against Division I competition they have yet to score more than 60 points.
Overall the Eagles are a decent team, but there isn't a lot that is scary about them. They'll rotate in about 10 players per game, but they want to get the ball inside to Harrison and Bryant while Thompson tries to get open from three. Outside of those three there is not much there.
Of course, as a Big Ten team we're going to be marked going on the road to a smaller MAC venue. This is a home game they have circled for some time, so we should not expect a warm welcome. If Purdue remains cold from long range and starts missing free throws things could go south in a hurry.
This game will turn on how well A.J. Hammons, Donne Hale, and the rest of our young post players play. EMU wants to go inside, so we'll be tested on the defensive end. Purdue is now one of the best rebounding teams in the nation at over 40 per game. This is another game to get some shooters on track and refine the rotations. Coach painter played everyone liberally against Lamar because he knew the boilers would win in a blowout. Since this is a tougher challenge I suspected that an 8-9 man rotation will be established. Dru Anthrop earned himself some more playing time with his effort against Lamar, but Ronnie Johnson still needs time to develop. D.J. Byrd also needs to find his shot after the dismal Xavier game and Terone Johnson needs to keep taking control. Purdue 75, Eastern Michigan 62