On Sunday Purdue starts defense of its Big Ten championship and the drive for a 25th Big Ten Championship. I could get used to saying “defend a Big Ten Championship”. It has been pretty much the default mode the past few seasons and we are really close to a run of three and counting. It is a new season though. It is a new team and a new title to win, so let’s start the trip for No. 25.
From: Evanston, IL
Game Location: Mackey Arena (14,240)
Date: December 8, 2019
Time: 5pm ET
Radio: Boilermaker Sports Network
Odds: Purdue by 14.5
2018-19 Record: 13-19, 4-16 Big Ten
2019-20 Record: 4-3, 0-0 Big Ten
Record vs. Purdue: Purdue leads 129-46
Last Purdue win: 70-57 at Northwestern on 3/9/2019
Last Northwestern win: 74-65 at Purdue on 3/9/2014
Opponent Blog: InsideNU
NCAA Tournament History: 1 appearance, reached 2017 Second Round
Coach: Chris Collins (105-99 in 7th season at Northwestern)
For the conference at least, Northwestern has done well in both the Gavitt Games and ACC/Big Ten Challenge. They won at Boston College 82-64 this week in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and they defeated Providence (the same Providence that beat us in the secret scrimmage) 72-63 in the Gavitt Games. Those would normally be two excellent wins and have the Wildcats off to a great start for an NCAA Tournament return. Unfortuantely, they have a pair of horrific losses.
They followed up the Providnce win with a 67-56 loss to Radford, who is currently 3-4. They also opened the year with a 71-61 loss to Merrimack, who was playing its second game as a Division I school. They also lost to Pittsburgh and beat both Bradley and Norfolk State
This is a team that is all over the map. They do have balanced scoring with four players averaging in double figures. Miller Kopp leads them 12.6 per game and Pete Nance is at 11.6 per game. Pat Spencer and Ryan Young are also in double figures while Nance averages 7.7 rebounds per game.
Northwestern is only shooting 31% from three and 43% overall from the floor. They are averaging a decent 68 points per game, but again, they lost to Merrimack and Radford.
Let’s be honest: Purdue should not lose to Northwestern at home a few days after smoking the defending National Champion in Mackey Arena. We can’t take anything for granted, however. This needs to be a business-like game just like last year when we won in Evanston to clinch the regualr season title. Purdue needs to continue showing growth offensively and spreading the ball around. Young and Nance given them a pair of 6’10” guys, so don’t be surprised if we see more of Trevion Williams and Matt Haarms together.
I’d also like to see Nojel Eastern and Aaron Wheeler get going as well. Both showed hints of breaking out of the slump against Virginia. Getting them going will help a lot in the long run.