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Vermont at Purdue Preview

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Purdue faces a feisty America East team in Game #2.

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The quick Friday to Sunday turnaround on games this weekend means we get a small preview before Sunday's opponent even plays. Sunday's opponent, which is technically the second of our four games in the Hall of Fame Classic, could also end up being a very nice little non-conference win when all things are said and done. At minimum, they are not the typical early season opponent we should overlook.

Opponent:

Vermont Catamounts

From:

Burlington, VT

Date:

11/15/2015

Venue:

Mackey Arena (14,826), W. Lafayette, IN

TV/Streaming:

espn3

Radio Stream:

TuneIn

Satellite Radio:

SIRI 136, XM

Odds:

No Line Yet

Tickets:

As low as $13 on Stubhub

Tipoff:

2:00pm

Blog Representation:

None

2015-16 Record:

0-1

All-time series

First Meeting

Last Purdue win:

None

Last Vermont Win:

None

2014-15 Record:

20-14, 12-4 America East

Last NCAA appearance:

2013 (2-5 in 5 appearances)

Coach:

John Becker (87-49 in 5th year at Vermont)

This century the Catamounts have almost been an NCAA Tournament regular. They made their debut in 2003, but have now made five total trips with a pair of victories in them. Sure, most of the time they get blown out as a 15 or 16 seed, but in 2004 they stunned #4 seed Syracuse 60-57 in overtime before falling to Michigan State in round 2. In the last two seasons they were favored to win the America East auto bid and even won the regular season title in 2014, but they have stumbled each time in the conference tournament. This is still a decent team that has been in the postseason (NIT, CBI, or NCAAs) for seven straight seasons. This was almost the second meeting, as they fell to Santa Clara in the 2013 CBI the game before Santa Clara came in and beat Purdue.

There are even a few Indiana connections with this team. Zach McRoberts, a HS teammate of Ryan Cline and brother of the NBA's Josh McRoberts, was on the roster last year, but left over the summer to enroll at Indiana. Brothers Ernie Duncan and Everette Duncan, both who played at Evansville Harrison, are freshmen on this year's roster. Ben Davis guard Dre Wills started 34 games for them last season and averaged 9.3 points. Josh Speidel from Columbus was also committed to play this season before he was seriously injured in a car accident earlier this year.

Last season was a slightly down year for Vermont. They finished tied for second in the America East Conference and were knocked out by Stony Brook in the conference tournament semifinals. They still had some good games against NCAA competition. They lost in double OT to Harvard and by one to Yale. They reached the semifinals of the CBI with wins over Hofstra and Radford before losing to Louisiana-Monroe.

They could challenge Purdue because they are an experienced team that is used to winning a lot of games. They are lead by 6'9" forward Ethan O'Day who averaged 12.5 points and 4.6 rebounds a year ago. The 6'6" junior forward Kurt Steidl is a good three-point shooter and he averaged 8.2 points per game. This was a balanced team with five player saveraging more than 8 points per game, and only one of those players is gone.

Vermont is picked third in the nine team America East Conference, but they easily could win the thing. With a good year they can avoid Dayton and get a 15 seed in the NCAAs, so this is not a team to be overlooked. Like many teams Purdue will face, however, their lack of size will be a major advantage for the Boilers. O'Day is their biggest player, and he has to decide if he wants to guard Hammons/Haas or Swanigan. Good luck.

There is some help coming though. Darren Payen is a 6'8" transfer from Hofstra that has 53 games of experience. The Duncans were also excellent players in high school and should contribute immediately.

Vermont is now 0-1 after losing 70-50 at Eastern Michigan earlier today (yes, they tipped off at 11am in Ypsilanti). Ernie Duncan had 14 points off the bench and Kurt Steidl had 11 points, but Vermont shot a dismal 30% from the field. Games at Florida, Yale, and Harvard are their best chances to help our RPI, but think of this as a game like a 2/15 matchup in the first round of the NCAAs. Purdue should win.