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Howard at Purdue: Preview, Odds, & How to Watch

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The nation's leading scorer will be showcased at Mackey Arena tonight.

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Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

According to the game notes sent out by Chris Forman a victory tonight will move Purdue to 10-0 for just the third time in 75 years. The good news is that the last two times it happened, Purdue went on to win the Big Ten. In 1993-94 Purdue started 14-0 before losing at Wisconsin. In 2009-10 Purdue started 14-0 before losing... at Wisconsin.

I suppose the good news this year is that our trip to Madison is not game No. 15. It is game No. 14. I don't know if Purdue will get to 14-0 again this season, as the last three games to get there are tricky, but it is safe to say Purdue is off to one of its best starts in decades. That start should reach 10-0 with a win tonight.

Opponent:

Howard Bison

From:

Washington, DC

Date:

12/9/2015

Venue:

Mackey Arena (14,846), West Lafayette, IN

TV/Streaming:

ESPNU

Radio Stream:

TuneIn

Satellite Radio:

SIRI 136, XM

Odds:

No Line Yet

Tickets:

As Low As $6

Tipoff:

7pm

Blog Representation:

None

2015-16 Record:

6-3, 1-1 MEAC

All-time series

Purdue leads 1-0

Last Purdue win:

76-40 at Purdue on 11/14/2010

Last Howard Win:

None

2014-15 Record:

16-16, 10-6 MEAC

Last NCAA appearance:

1992 (Lost to Kansas in 1st Round)

Coach:

Kevin Nickelberry (53-113 in 6th year at Howard, 102-157 overall)

Head coach Kevin Nickelberry had his best season in five years at Howard last year just by getting the Bison to .500 overall at 16-16. Now he has his team primed to possibly win the MEAC and advance to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 23 years. They finished fourth last season in the MEAC. Already they have made some noise, as they stunned North Carolina Central 71-69 Monday night in their second conference game of the season. The win came on the road and broke NCCU's 32-game home court winning streak. NCCU has won the regular season MEAC title in each of the past two seasons, so it was a good win.

Their other conference game came against a familiar opponent. They dropped their conference opener on Saturday 66-63 at North Carolina A&T. Overall the Bison have played well. The other two losses were by 12 to Rutgers and by 6 at UMass. They also have a very nice win over William & Mary, who is No. 62 in the RPI.

What makes Howard stand out is that they currently have the nation's top overall scorer. James Daniel is pouring in an impressive 28.9 points per game, putting him 2.5 points per game ahead of Jordan Price from LaSalle to lead the country. Daniel has been impressive. He is only 5'11", but he is shooting close to 40% from three and he still averages 3.2 assists per game. He gets to the line about 12 times per game as well, hitting 87% once he gets there. Against William & Mary he dropped 39 and against both UMass and Texas Southern he had 30. His lowest game was "only" 21 against Rutgers.

These are impressive individual numbers, but Howard is not just a one-man team. James Miller (15 ppg) and Damon Collins (12.6 ppg) both average in double figures, making this quite a potent lineup. The trio of Collins, Miller, and Daniel are a formidable lineup of guards that love to get to the basket. They have also combined to hit 41 of Howard's 50 made three-pointers. Of those, Daniel has hit 30.

Ed Note: Daniel may be out tonight:

It is clear that Howard's strength is its guards. They have some size that could cause trouble in the post. The 6'10" marcel Boyd is averaging 7.4 points and 9 rebounds. Solomon Mangham is also a solid 6'7" forward that averages 7.2 points and 6.4 rebounds. This gives the Bison a very good starting five that can compete with just about anyone.

Where Purdue probably wins this is with its depth. Howard is a decent rebounding team at 40 per game (82nd nationally), but they have yet to play a team with Purdue's size and depth. Their stats are also slightly inflated with wins over non-Division I Medgar Evers College (106-64) and Central Pennsylvania College (98-79). They also do not take care of the ball at 15 turnovers per game.

The Bison should provide a better than expected challenge just because their guards are so good. This is a team that has a pretty good chance to win the MEAC despite their early loss, but the MEAC is regularly a conference where its champion is sent to Dayton for the First Four. I expect them to stick around for a half and maybe a little into the second half, but like we have seen so many times this year, Purdue's depth will wear them down.