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Western Illinois at Purdue: Preview, Odds, & How to Watch

Purdue is an overwhelming favorite headed into tonight’s game.

Western Illinois v Wisconsin Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

Yes, we have basketball tonight! It is a quick turnaround after Saturday’s win over Notre Dame. The final two non-conference games are squeezed in here just before Christmas, so it is a slight test to a Purdue team that is currently running with only eight scholarship players. Normally, I would be concerned, but tonight Purdue should have a pretty easy time against one of the lowest rated teams in Division I.

Western Illinois Leathernecks

From: Macomb, IL

Date : Monday, December 19, 2016

Tip Time: 6:00 p.m. ET

Location: West Lafayette, IN

Arena: Mackey Arena (14,804)

Television: Big Ten Network

Online: BTN2Go

Radio: Purdue Radio Network

SiriusXM Satellite: XM (Ch. 381); Internet (Ch. 968)

Live Stats: bit.ly/PurdueLiveStats

Odds: Purdue by 28

KenPom: 303

RPI: 347

2015-16 Record: 10-17, 3-13 Summit League

2016-17 Record: 3-7

Opponent Blog: None

Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 5-0

Last Western Illinois Win: None

Last Purdue Win: 81-67 at Purdue on 3/20/2013 (CBI First Round)

NCAA Tournament History: Never Appeared

The last time these two teams met it was likely Western Illinois’s best season in school history. The Leathernecks were 22-8 in 2012-13 and they drew an under .500 Purdue team in the first round of the CBI. It was only the second appearance in a postseason tournament at the Division I level for the Leathernecks, and their first was a year earlier in the CBI. Purdue won 81-67 and Jon McKeeman got his first career action that night, playing one minute.

McKeeman is still on the team, now as a fifth-year senior walk-on, and tonight he should play a lot. Since going 22-9 that season Western has fallen to the bottom of Division I. They have gone 10-20, 8-20, and 10-17 in the following three years. Last year had a little promise, as they stunned #17 Wisconsin in Madison on the opening night of the season on their way to a 7-2 start. They finished only 10-17 however, and were a dismal 3-13 in the Summit League. In fact, they didn’t even qualify for the Summit League Tournament.

This season has been more of the same. They have one win over a Division I team, and that came on Saturday at Milwaukee 75-59. The other two wins are over Oak Hills Christian and Crown College. Their only game against a major conference team was an 82-55 season opening loss at Kansas State. Out of 351 Division I teams they have an RPI of 347.

To be honest, if Purdue loses this game it would be a complete and utter disaster after Saturday. Western averages only 67 points per game (303rd in the nation) and 34 rebounds per game (287th). This is without playing anyone remotely close to Purdue’s caliber.

What we do get to see is one of the country’s best individual scorers. Garret Covington, a 6’5” senior guard, ranks 31st nationally at 21 points per game. He has an outside chance of reaching 2,000 career points later this season and he gets it done in a variety of ways. He shoots over 40% from three, gets to the line quite a bit (where he is 86%), and he is 44% overall form the floor. He is a big, do everything guard that will be a nice challenge to our defense.

Mike Miklusak, a 6’6” forward from Dyer, Indiana also averages 15 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. Miklusak was a high school teammate of Glenn Robinson III and also attended with Purdue football players David Yancey and Gelen Robinson at Lake Central. His average has increased by 10 points per game this season and he is shooting 48.3% from the field.

Outside of those two guys Western Illinois does not have much. As I said, they average 67 points per game and those two score 36 of those 67 points. Brandon Gilbeck, a 6’11” 250 pound sophomore from Wisconsin at least should provide a little size inside for Isaac Haas to deal with. Jalen Morgan, a 6’8” forward from Pike in Indianapolis is another local product to look out for.

Honestly, Purdue is going to have to be asleep to lose this one. This is not a high scoring team and they already turn the ball over 15 times per contest. This is a tune-up game to continue working on our own turnover issues and to experiment a little with lineups.