Purdue has yet to win a road game in Big Ten play, but with trips to Nebraska, Northwestern, and Penn State all on the schedule there is ample opportunity to grab a few. These are all Purdue must have if it is to have any shot at reaching the NCAA Tournament.
The Huskers have a surprisingly high RPI of 53, but that is sure to drop as they get into the teeth of their Big Ten schedule. For now, a top 100 true road victory would do wonders for our own sub.-100 RPI, which is slowly rising as we play more Big Ten games.
Location: Lincoln, NE
2011-12 record: 12-18, 4-14 Big Ten
2012-13 Record: 9-8, 0-4
2012 Postseason: None
Blog Representation: Corn Nation
Series With Purdue: Purdue Leads 8-2
Last Purdue win: 79-61 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on 3/8/12
Last Nebraska win: 96-85 at Nebraska on 12/5/1964
TV: Big Ten Network
Odds: Purdue by 2
It is not often that you can say that a conference opponent has not beaten you in nearly 50 years, but that is where we are with Nebraska. Purdue has not been to Nebraska since 1978, hasn't lost to the Huskers since 1964, and hasn't lost to them in West Lafayette since 1956.
The jump to the Big Ten has not been kind to Nebrasketball. The Huskers are just 4-19 against Big Ten opponents, losing to Purdue in West Lafayette and the Big Ten Tournament last season by 18-point margins each time. Their lone wins came last season against Iowa, Penn State, a free-falling Illinois, and No. 13 Indiana.
So far this season the Huskers are 9-8 overall, but their best win is over No. 107 rated Valpariso. They helped the Big Ten win the Big ten/ACC Challenge with a surprising 79-63 win at Wake Forest, but they are 0-7 against teams in the top 100 of the RPI. Of course, part of that comes from a brutal opening stretch in conference play that had road trips to Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State and a home game against Wisconsin.
The Huskers are looking at this game as a way to get off the 0-fer stretch in big Ten play. Aside from getting drilled by Ohio State they have been competitive. Wisconsin won a Bo Ryan 47-41 special in Lincoln, while they hung with both Michigan schools nicely before the Spartans and Wolverines pulled away late. Their only truly bad loss was against Kent State.
Nebraska may still be without No. 3 scorer Brandon Ubel. The 6'10" senior cracture his elbow in his shooting arm against Michigan and missed the Michgian State game. He is out indefinitely, but could return later in the season. He is listed as "highly doubtful" for tonight's game. He is Nebraska's leading rebounder at 6.8 per game and he averages 12.1 points as well. Against Purdue last season he only had six points in each game with 10 total rebounds.
His absence should be huge for A.J. Hammons in the post. Andre Almeida, a 6'11" 314 pound senior has been forced to play larger minutes in Ubel's absence, but did not score in 24 minutes against the Wolverines. He also only had three rebounds while fouling out. Almeida might be a big body, but Hammons is clearly the more effective player.
Most of Nerbaska's scoring comes from 6'5" senior guard Dylan Talley and 6'2" junior guard Ray Gallegos. Gallegos has come on nicely after missing all of last season and scoring less than three points per game in the previous two seasons. Talley is in his second year as a transfer from Binghamton. He scored a total of 19 points against Purdue last season. Talley and Benny Parker are pretty good at distribution as each averages 2.5 assists per game.
The loss of Ubel has greatly shortened Nebraska's depth, so out own bench should be an asset. The bench got even shorter when Mike Peltz was lost for the season with a knee injury. That leaves only Talley, Gallegos, Almeida, David Rivers, Shavon Shields, and Parker as a six-man main rotation. Sophomore guard Jordan Tyrance came on for some emergency minutes against Michigan State, but he has not scored this season and has one career point.
Like the game against Penn State, Purdue needs to simply wear the Huskers down. If Hammons can get Almeida in foul trouble early there will be no post presence whatsoever to stop him. Jacob Lawson, Donnie Hale, Travis Carroll, and Sandi Marcius (if he plays) give Purdue five post players to go at one overmatched 6'11" guy that doesn't score much.
Offensively, Talley and Gallegos are just about the only players that shoot threes. Gallegos is below 30% from long range too. As a team Nebraska is 66% from the line, which is not a lot better than Purdue.
Ronnie Johnson and Terone Johnson have done a good job of getting the basketball where it needs to go at times, and both are developing into effective slashers. That will be important tonight. Nebraska does not shoot the basketball well and with a very limited bench Purdue can only benefit from cutting to the basket and getting to the foul line. If Nebraska gets in any kind of foul trouble they're screwed.
Honestly, I was a little worried about this one until I saw how limited their bench was. Purdue has struggled offensively, but it shares the ball better and has more options. D.J. Byrd is a better shooter than anyone they have and Hammons, if he stays out of foul trouble, should be virtually unchallenged. Even then, Purdue has a distinct size advantage and gets eight more rebounds per game. Nebraska is 331st in the nation out of 343 Division I teams in scoring at only 58.2 points per game. They have not topped 60 points since December 29 and have only been over 50 once in four Big Ten games.
If Purdue can't top 60 while facing that something is seriously wrong.
Remember what a Big Ten winning streak is if:
- Hammons dominates in the post.
- Nebraska gets in foul trouble.
- Purdue gets to the line (and actually hits a few).
- Purdue takes care of the basketball.
- No surprise scorers emerge.
Be rightly mocked for losing to Nebrasketball if:
- Free throw woes continue.
- Hammons is in foul trouble and no one steps up.
- Almeida suddenly becomes an effective post.
- Talley goes absolutely crazy.
- RJ and TJ keep turning the ball over.
Purdue 62, Nebraska 55