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Nebraska at #21 Purdue: Preview, Odds, & How to Watch

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A dangerous Nebrasketball team comes to Mackey Arena after upsetting Michigan State last week.

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Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Well, Purdue survived its trip to Minnesota, but just barely. The Golden Gophers may be winless in conference play like Rutgers, but their track record is much tougher than that of the Scarlet Knights. Minnesota has played Indiana within 7, Purdue within 4, Michigan State within 8, and beat a scorching hot Clemson team all at home. The record may not say much, but at least they play hard. We also ascribe to the "Every win is beautiful" theory here, so you can only say so much about the fact that Purdue looked awful for long stretches and really only won becuase Minnesota is pretty bad.

Yes, those are some hardcore apologetics.

The second half of the Big Ten season begins tomorrow and Purdue has five games left at home with four away. Purdue also has not had an "off" date yet, playing every weekend or midweek so far in conference play. With Iowa and Indiana losing the Boilers are now two games out of a first place tie, and even after being swept by the Hawkeyes there is no shame in sharing the conference title with them if it comes down to it. At the very least the home stretch allows for Purdue to play for a decent NCAA seed. If Purdue simply holds serve at home and splits its road games it will head into the Big Ten Tournament at 25-6, 13-5 in the conference with a probable top 4 finish and top 4 "protected" seed in the NCAA Tournament.

As a final note, Purdue will honor the 20th anniversary of the "3-Pete" teams on Saturday. What better time to make a push for only the second Big Ten title since then.

Opponent

Nebraska Cornhuskers

Location:

Lincoln, NE

Date:

1/30/2016

Venue:

Mackey Arena (14,846)

TV:

Big Ten Network

Radio Stream:

TuneIn

Satellite Radio:

SIRI 136, XM

Odds:

No Line Yet

Tickets:

As low as $56 on Stubhub

Tipoff:

4:30pm

KenPom Ranking:

93 of 351

RPI:

158

Blog Representation:

Corn Nation

2015-16 Record:

12-9, 4-4 Big Ten

All-time series

Purdue leads 11-4

Last Purdue win:

66-54 at Purdue on 2/15/2014

Last Nebraska Win:

76-57 at Nebraska on 2/23/2014

2014-15 Record:

13-18, 5-13 Big Ten

Last NCAA appearance:

2014 (7 appearances)

Coach:

Tim Miles (59-57 in 4th year at Nebraska, 338-277)

Nebraska is probably not going to go to the NCAA tournament this season. Losses to Samford, Northwestern, and failing to close out close games against Miami, Cincinnati, and Indiana have likely done them in. they are still good enough to royally screw up other teams' seasons, however. Just ask Michigan State, who dropped a 72-71 game to them in East Lansing last week. The Cornhuskers may be 2-7 against the top 100 of the RPI, but they have been a strong team that fights to the end. They took Miami to overtime in the ACC/B1G Challenge and the Hurricanes are a damn good team.

The Huskers hang around because of a player that has proven himself time and again in big Ten play and because of a valuable Kansas transfer. Andrew White is in his first season at Nebraska after leaving the Jayhawks and the 6'7" guard has been excellent. He averages 16.9 points, 6 rebounds, and a 51.3% shooting percentage from the floor. He is also a blistering 55 of 130 from long range, making him one of the league's best three-point shooters. Bryn Forbes, Denzel Valentine, and Duncan Robinson are the only players in the conference that have made more threes than White, and he is 11th in shooting percentage from long range.

Shavon Shields is also having a great season at 15.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 3 assists. Shields does more of his work going to the basket, but he is still one of the league's best players and he had 28 in the upset win over Michigan State. Two years ago he had 18 and 10 when Nebraska beat Purdue in Lincoln. As a freshman he had 19 when Nebraska beat Purdue by 1 in the Big Ten Tournament.

Beyond White and Shields the production drops off rather sharply. Tai Webster is averaging 10 points per game and Glynn Watson, Jr. is at 8.4, but this team mostly goes as far as White and Shields can carry them.

While Purdue has a size advantage over most teams, it will be really pronounced in this game. The Cornhuskers have the 6'10" Jake Hammond playing only 1`1.9 minutes per game and averaging 2.6 points and 3.3 rebounds. Beyond him you only have 6'8" Michael Jacobson logging post minutes.

That is what makes this game so interesting. You have big, lumbering Purdue with a huge size advantage going against the much smaller, but quicker Nebraska. Can Purdue fix its turnover issues from Wednesday night against a team that averages 13 turnovers per game itself? Nebraska is second in the Big Ten with 151 steals, so they are going to look to swipe the ball. Purdue seems to go in spurts, too. It took care of the ball well against Ohio State, but just did not make shots. Against Minnesota and Iowa it turned the ball over recklessly.

That is probably the largest indicator of success in this game if not the rest of the season. Can Purdue keep hold of the ball? If it does so, Purdue is going to win not only on Saturday, but probably in most every remaining game. If it doesn't, watch out.