After surviving in overtime at Penn State Purdue now enters the second half of the Big Ten season. Depending on what happens at Iowa tonight and in East Lansing on Saturday we could be playing for a share of first place, too. After the 6-5 start I did not think we would be in this spot, but this team continues to grow by leaps and bounds. We have one of the best scorers in the nation, a sniper from long range, and a bunch of freshmen and sophomores that are growing into larger roles before our eyes.
Yeah, this team is fun to watch.
Next up is Minnesota, who has done something very few other teams have done in the last 4 seasons: They have won in Mackey Arena. Two years ago the Golden Gophers came to West Lafayette and Nate Mason went crazy in a surprising overtime win. Purdue still won the Big Ten that year, but it was a shocking result and Purdue has only lost at home once since. This year’s team is up and down, but still poses a threat.
From: Minneapolis, MN
Date: Sunday, February 3, 2019
Tip Time: Noon ET
Location: West Lafayette, Indiana
Arena: Mackey Arena (14,804)
Television: Big Ten Network
Radio: Purdue Radio Network
SiriusXM Satellite: XM (Ch. 381); Internet (Ch. 968)
Live Stats: bit.ly/PurdueLiveStats
2017-18 Record: 15-17, 4-14 Big Ten
2018-19 Record: 16-5, 6-4 Big Ten
Opponent Blog: The Daily Gopher
Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 103-83
Last Minnesota Win: 91-82 (OT) at Purdue on 1/1/2017
Last Purdue Win: 84-60 at Purdue on 2/25/2018
NCAA Tournament History: 13 appearances, last in 2017. 1997 Final Four
Coach: Richard Pitino (106-83 in 5th season at Minnesota, 124-97 overall)
Like most Big Ten teams, Minnesota has played a pretty tough schedule to this point. They are right in the midst of a large group of teams contending for the NCAA Tournament. They have a very good win at Wisconsin, a nice home win over Iowa, and a good neutral court win over Washington. They came very close to winning at Michigan a little over a week ago, so they definitely have the ability to put a scare into us at home.
They’ve also had some head scratching losses. They lost at Illinois and Boston College by 27 and 12, respectively. Boston College has a home loss to IUPUI this year and Illinois has the worst overall record in the conference. It seems like this team is feast or famine. They are either competitive or they get blown out.
Minnesota is a very balanced team with five players in double figures. That has them 6th in scoring in the league 74.9 points per game, but they struggle defensively. They are 12th in the conference at 70.1 points per game given up, better than only Iowa and Illinois. Given our defensive struggles at Penn State, we could be in for a high scoring affair. They are a bit of a mirror-image team to us statistically, but we rely on Carsen Edwards singularly while they spread the ball around.
Jordan Murphy is in contention for Big Ten player of the year. The 6’6” senior forward is averaging a double-double at 15.1 points and 11.9 rebounds per game. He often plays bigger than he is and is excellent around the basket. Amir Coffey (15.9 ppg, 3.1 apg) is a great scorer as well and is capable of having a huge game like Mason did two years ago.
Gabe Kalscheur (10.4 ppg), Dupree McBrayer (10.4 ppg), and Daniel Oturu (10.3 ppg) round out the starting five that is quite formidable. They do the bulk of the work as the starting five averages 62 of the 74.9 ppg Minnesota averages in each game.
I think that is what makes Minnesota so dangerous as a team. They have five starters that are all capable scorers and they distribute the ball well too. As a team they average about 16 assists per game. Isaiah Washington averages 3.5 assists as a top facilitator off the bench too.
I think this game will be closer than we expect. Minnesota is a good team. The win at Wisconsin was impressive and playing the Wolverines to a two-point game in Ann Arbor was really good too. They are not going to be afraid of Mackey, either, because they have a strong senior core that has won here before.