It is time for the final tune up game. This is the last easy win we will have for some time, as Big Ten play gets started next week and we have a title to win. With Rutgers (!) even looking semi-competent none of those games will be easy, so let’s enjoy what will likely be the final 30+ point blowout of the year.
Norfolk State Spartans
From: Norfolk, VA
Date : Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Tip Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Location: West Lafayette, IN
Arena: Mackey Arena (14,804)
Television: BTNPlus (I know, it sucks, but we will all get through this).
Radio: Purdue Radio Network
SiriusXM Satellite: XM (Ch. 381); Internet (Ch. 968)
Live Stats: bit.ly/PurdueLiveStats
Odds: No Line yet.
2015-16 Record: 17-17, 12-4 MEAC (lost to Columbia in CIT First Round
2016-17 Record: 3-9
Opponent Blog: None
Series with Purdue: First Meeting
Last Norfolk State Win: None
Last Purdue Win: None
NCAA Tournament History: 1 Apparance in 2012 (Upset No. 2 seed Missouri 86-84)
The biggest moment in the history of Norfolk State basketball came five years ago in their first and so far only appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Led by Kyle O’Quinn the Spartans stunned No. 2 Seed Missouri 86-82 before losing by 30+ to Florida in the next round. They come from the MEAC, one of the lowest rated conferences in America. Usually the conference title winner considers it a victory if they can avoid Dayton. That the 2012 squad got as high as a 15 seed was even more impressive.
The next season Norfolk might have been even better. They rolled to an undefeated MEAC title at 16-0, but were upset 70-68 by Bethune-Cookman in the first round of their conference tournament. An appearance in that season’s NIT was bittersweet and ended in a first round loss to Virginia. Since then they have appeared in the CIT tournament three straight times, losing all three.
I feel for teams like this. They travel the country in November and December like nomads collecting paychecks and blowout losses in games exactly like tonight. They have made stops at Butler (a 91-55 loss) and Evansville (and 85-66 loss) already this year within our state. Of their three victories only an 87-80 home win over Eastern Kentucky Monday night was a win over a Division I team. They have had some close calls though. They nearly upset Mississippi State in the season opener, losing 78-74. They also lost to Sacred Heart by 2 and Niagara by 4.
We will see another prolific scorer tonight in 6’4” senior guard Jonathan Wade. He is averaging 20 points and 5.8 rebounds to lead the Spartans as their lone scorer in double figures. He shoots 40% from three and generally leads them in most statistical categories. They do have a 7-footer and a 6’11” guy, but they don’t play a whole lot. That leaves 6’8” Alex Long as their main interior player. He averages 7.3 points and a team high 6.1 rebounds. It also means we could see another 20+ rebound game from Caleb Swanigan.
In fact, Purdue should have every advantage in this one. Norfolk is 303rd nationally in scoring at only 67 points per game. They are 277th in rebounding and 213th defensively. Zaynah Robinson averages 9.9 points and 2.9 assists, but as a team they have only 10 assists per game. They don’t share the ball well and they don’t shoot well, either, averaging only 41.3% from the field.
Barring a complete disaster Purdue is going to roll by at least 25 points tonight. The goal is to keep everyone healthy because the real season gets underway a week from tonight.