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ACC/Big Ten Challenge Purdue at Pittsburgh: Preview, Odds, and How to Watch

Purdue will face its toughest test yet when it heads to Pittsburgh Tuesday night.

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Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The team with the longest active winning streak in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge from either conference: Purdue at six straight.

The best Big Ten team in the history of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge: Purdue at 8-6.

Yes, the Boilers have been hot of late. Even with consecutive losing seasons after Robbie Hummel left Purdue has beaten NC State, Boston College, Clemson, Miami, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest in each of the last six years to pace the Big Ten. Only two of those games (Clemson and Virginia Tech) have come away from Mackey Arena, however. That makes tomorrow's road trip to the Steel City a bit more harrowing. This is Purdue's lone chance this season to grab a win on an opposing team's floor outside of Big Ten play, so it makes for an interesting test.

Opponent:

Pittsburgh Panthers

From:

Pittsburgh, PA

Date:

12/1/2015

Venue:

Petersen Events Center (12,508), Pittsburgh, PA

TV/Streaming:

Espn2

Radio Stream:

TuneIn

Satellite Radio:

SIRI 136, XM

Odds:

No Line Yet

Tickets:

As low as $15 on Stubhub

Tipoff:

9:00pm

Blog Representation:

Cardiac Hill

2015-16 Record:

4-0

All-time series

Purdue leads 6-4

Last Purdue win:

12/29/1977 91-80 at San Diego, CA

Last Pittsburgh Win:

12/1/1962 at Pittsburgh 69-64

2014-15 Record:

19-15, 8-10 ACC (lost first round of NIT to George Washington

Last NCAA appearance:

2014 (25 appearances all-time, made Elite 8 in 2009)

Coach:

Jamie Dixon (311-111 in 13th year at Pitt)

Jamie Dixon basically is Pitt basketball. He took over during the 2003-04 season and has taken the Panthers to the NCAA Tournament 10 times in the previous 12 seasons. For what it is worth they also won the 2012 CBI (hint, it is not worth much). His best season was 2009, when Pitt went 31-5 and was a no. 1 seed before falling to Villanova 78-76 in the East Region final. Last season was the only year in which he failed to win 20 games at Pitt, and they still won 19.

This season they started in Okinawa and led at halftime against Gonzaga when the game was called off due to floor conditions. They won't leave home again until December 20th when they play Davidson in New York. They are a perfect 4-0 with wins over St. Joseph's College (yes, the one from up the road in Rensselaer), Detroit, Cornell, and Kent State. That's not a murderers row by any means, but they have done their jobs with the closest game being a 9 point win over Kent State.

As with many Purdue opponents, we first need to look at how they are going to match up with Purdue's huge front court. Their tallest player is junior Rozelle Nix, who is 6'11" 300 pounds and has not played at all this season. He is a JuCo transfer and brother of Roosevelt Nix, who plays for the Steelers.

Pittsburgh does list four players at 6'9", led by top scorer Michael Young. The junior averages 18 points and 8 rebounds per game as an excellent forward in the post. He shoots the ball very well at 64% from the field, so the defensive work of A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas near the basket is critical. Ryan Luther, who is also 6'9", averages 8 points and five rebounds per game, giving them a solid forward tandem. What makes young do good is that he is an excellent passer with 4.8 assists per game. Think of him as a more experienced and polished version of Caleb Swanigan.

Jamel Artis, a 6'7" forward, will likely go up against our own Vince Edwards. He is averaging 15.3 points, 4 rebounds, and three assists per game. He is one of the team's better three-point shooters at 6 of 13 on the year, too.

Now, about three-point shooting. Pittsburgh almost has an aversion to it compared to Purdue, so expect them to try and get to the basket as much as possible. Through four games they have attempted just 83 threes but have hit 35 for a 42.7% average. Purdue, through six games, has attempted 153 and has hit 60 of them. Kendall Stephens, Dakota Mathias, and Vince Edwards each have as many or more made threes as their top shooter, Sterling Smith, who is 8 of 13.

So this is a team that wants to bang with us. They are scoring points at 89 per game, but they haven't seen anything like Purdue's size just yet. They have the big bodies to go against almost anyone, but when Purdue can rotate in a 7-footer and a 7'2" behemoth in the post that will be something totally different.

Chris Jones and James Robinson give them a pair of quality guards in the backcourt. Robinson averages 8.3 points and 4.8 assists, while Jones is averaging 8 points per game. Overall they are shooting at 50.8%, which is very, very good for a college team. In fact, that is 21st in the nation.

This should be a very good test for Purdue because they are a tough, hard-nosed opponent for us. Playing on the road will not be easy, either. Much of what happens tomorrow night depends on keeping Haas and Hammons out of foul trouble while relying on their defense near the basket. They also had 26 passes on 31 made field goals against Kent State, so they share the ball well. With only 10 turnovers per game they take care of the ball here.

I expect Purdue to win, but it will not be easy. This is probably the toughest test to date for the Boilers.