Until Purdue wins away from Mackey Arena the “good home team, bad road team” narrative will persist. In conference play so far the Boilers are 0-3. They have a double OT loss at Michigan, a bad loss at Nebraska, and, of course, Illinois. I tend to believe that Purdue can make the NCAA Tournament as long as it holds serve at home and wins at Northwestern in a few weeks, but holding serve and winning a few more than that away from home makes Purdue a lock and improves its seed.
That is easier said than done, however. Road teams have won in Big Ten play just six times so far. Two of those wins have come at last place Northwestern. This entire league is full of “Good home, bad road” teams and that even includes Michigan State, who leads the conference. The discrepancy is so bad that if Purdue gets to 14-6 in conference play it might even be enough to win the Big Ten. That might seem like a stretch, but assuming Purdue goes 10-0 at home that just means 4-6 away from home, something that is very doable.
From: College Park, MD
Date: Saturday, January 18, 2020
Tip Time: 2pm
Location: College Park, MD
Arena: Xfinity Center (17,950)
Radio: Purdue Radio Network
SiriusXM Satellite: XM (Ch. 381); Internet (Ch. 968)
Live Stats: bit.ly/PurdueLiveStats
Odds: No Line Yet
2018-19 Record: 23-11, 13-7 Big Ten (Lost to LSU 69-67 in NCAA Tournament Second Round)
2019-20 Record: 13-4, 3-3 Big Ten
Opponent Blog: Testudo Times
Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 5-3
Last Maryland Win: 70-56 at Maryland on 2/12/2019
Last Purdue Win: 62-60 at Purdue on 12/6/2018
NCAA Tournament History: 2002 National Champions, 28 appearances
Coach: Mark Turgeon (193-96 in 9th season at Maryland, 443-255 overall)
Maryland is like everyone else in the Big Ten. They have been an impressive 10-0 at home this year, but are 0-4 in true road games with losses at Penn State, Seton Hall, Iowa, and Wisconsin. None of those is remotely close to a bad loss. They are a lot like Purdue, however, in that the home/road difference is more pronounced. They nearly lost to Illinois back in December as the Illini blew a huge lead and lost 59-58 in College Park, but for the most part they have been about 10 points better at home. The Terrapins enter with a two-game losing streak after a 56-54 loss at Wisconsin and a 67-49 loss at Iowa. That followed home wins over Ohio State (67-55) and Indiana (75-59).
Anthony Cowan Jr. is their top scorer at 16.2 points per game and he also averages four assists. He is shooting 34.7% from three, but 76% from the line. With 109 free throw attempts on the season you can expect him to drive and try to get some of his points at the rim or at the line. That’s encouraging is the way Eric Hunter Jr. and Nojel Eastern shut down Cassius Winston on Sunday. They were excellent defensively against the conference’s best player, so expect them to draw the assignment on Cowan. He had 18 in the loss in mackey last season, but 12 in the win in College Park.
Jalen Smith (13.6 pppg) and Aaron Wiggins (10.4 ppg) are their other two scorers in double figures. Eric Ayala and Darryl Morsell also provide some scoring in the backcourt. Smith is their top post presence and he also averages 9.4 rebounds per game. Ayala and Smith combined for 31 in the win over Purdue last season after having just 9 combined in the loss in West Lafayette, so they were the difference.
Like Purdue, Maryland has struggled at times with consistent offense. Purdue is 6th nationally on defense according to KenPom and the Terrapins are just behind us at 7th. Offensively they are 41st and Purdue is 65th, but they have had nothing near as bad as our Illinois game to drag them down. Neither team can shoot well, as Maryland is last in the Big Ten at 41.3% from the floor and Purdue is 13th at 41.7%. Purdue has been better from three (33.3% to 30.7%), and we’re the best team in the conference at defending the three.
The game could come down to rebounding and sharing the ball. Maryland is 13th in the conference in assists (Purdue is 8th). The Terrapins are also +0.6 in turnover margin while Purdue is +2.8. Both teams are pretty equal on the offensive glass, but Purdue is still the worst defensive rebounding team in the conference.
To me, Purdue and Maryland are very, very similar. They are each significantly better at home compared to on the road. They both struggle to shoot at times, but make up for it with strong defense. What we have seen from Purdue is how much of a difference someone like Evan Boudreaux or Aaron Wheeler can make when hitting from outside. Against Michigan State it was Boudreaux hitting 3 threes. Wheeler is getting looks and his form is good, but he is just not hitting yet. Sometimes it is Isaiah Thompson or Sasha Stefanovic that hits. Regardless, we saw against Michigan State that just hitting even a little from outside opens everything up for Purdue. That allows Hunter, Eastern, and even Jahaad Proctor space to drive. It allows Trevion Williams at Matt Haarms to dominate inside.
We do have an ace up our sleeves. We have not had an H&R staff member on site at any of our three conference road games so far, but Jumboheroes lives in Baltimore. He and Mrs. Jumboheroes will be on site in the Xfinity Center, and their powers have combined to three now as Mrs. Jumboheroes is expecting! With their gestation powers combined Maryland does not stand a chance!
It really is that simple. If Purdue can find a way to hit shots, it will win. Unfortunately for us, we have not found a way to do that on the road yet. We’re getting good looks, but until they fall with a modicum of consistency we won’t win many road games.