It’s Christmas basketball in Mackey Arena! Unfortunately, there will be very few fans, but Casey is back in town and will be attending on the H&R media pass. It is quite a unique game for Purdue. Except for the Hawaiian Airlines Rainbow Classic there is very rarely any college basketball played on Christmas Day. In looking through my Purdue media guide I found a handful of Boxing Day games in our history, but I believe this is the first time Purdue has played on Christmas Day.
It is likely a one-off, as well. The Rainbow Classic has not had a Big Ten team in quite a while and the unique circumstances of COVID-19 has kept our players on campus for the holidays, so we have a special Christmas Day game. Like so many in conference play, it is a big one, too. Even without fans Purdue needs to defend its home court if it wants to make the NCAA Tournament.
From: College Park, MD
Location: West Lafayette, IN
Venue: Mackey Arena (14,240)
Odds: No Line Yet
Date & Time: December 25, 2020, 2:30 pm ET
TV: Fox Sports 1
Live Stats: Purdue Sports
Blog Representation: Testudo Times
2019-20 Record: 24-7, 14-6 Big Ten (Big Ten Regular Season Co-Champion)
2020-21 Record: 5-2, 0-1
NCAA Tournament History: 28 appearances, last in 2019. 2002 NCAA Champion
Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 5-4
Last Purdue win: 62-60 at Purdue on 12/6/2018
Last Maryland win: 57-50 at Maryland on 1/18/2020
Coach: Mark Turgeon (209-101 on 10th season at Maryland, 459-260 overall)
Last year’s loss in College Park was like so many for Purdue. The offense completely betrayed us as we fell behind early before making a late run to make the score closer. In this case Purdue trailed 36-20 at the half after hitting just one field goal in the first eight minutes of the game. The Boilers outscored the Terrapins over the final 32 minutes 46-37, but were already down 20-4 by the time they got going. It was a frustrating game a bit like Tuesday night in Iowa City. The defense did enough to win, but the offense did not.
Maryland entered this season after its first Big Ten men’s basketball championship, shared with Wisconsin and Michigan State. So far this season they have beaten who they should beat and have lost their two toughest games. We have a common opponent in that they lost 67-51 to the same Clemson team that beat us by 11. They also opened conference play with a 74-60 loss to Rutgers. Their five wins have come over Old Dominion, Navy, Mount St. Mary’s, Monmouth, and LaSalle. All those wins were by at least 13 points.
The Terrapins have been pretty balanced on offense and they are averaging 75.9 points per game. Eric Ayala leads them at 14.6 points per game, a step up after being at about 8.5 per game over his first two seasons. He is a versatile guard that can both shoot the three and get to the basket. Donta Scott at 12.7 points and 7.1 rebounds is a dangerous player though. He has been their best three-point shooter at 57.1% so far and he is their leading rebounder.
Hakim Hart (10.6 ppg) and Aaron Wiggins (10.0 ppg) complete the backcourt, and Wiggins leads the team at three assists per game. This is a team that plays a lot of individual basketball, however, as they are 12th in the conference in assists at 14.7 per game. By comparison Iowa leads the conference at 22.6. The Terrapins run 9-10 players deep and Chol Marial has the size to match up with Zach Edey. Galin Smith and Jairus Hamilton will be the ones battling Trevion Williams.
What has me concerned is that Purdue is currently last in the conference in scoring at 72.4 points per game and we have played the most games with nine. Maryland is fourth defensively, giving up 64.1 per game. Maryland is only 12th in scoring and Purdue is 6th in defense, however, so the numbers are pretty evenly balanced.
At this point we know what we’re going to get with Purdue. The Boilers will win if the shots are falling and the offense is working. In Purdue’s three losses it was undone by harassing defense against Clemson, a horrendous collapse at Miami, and a bunch of missed open looks at Iowa. Zach Edey has struggled in his first two Big Ten games and Eric Hunter Jr. followed up perhaps his best game as a Boiler against Notre Dame with one of his worst at Iowa. Mackey Arena is also where Sasha Stefanovic shoots the ball a lot better, so that will help.
It really is simple. If Notre Dame Purdue shows up, we win. If Iowa Purdue shows up, we lose, and Notre Dame Purdue was good enough to have won at Iowa.