Winning Streak – N. – 1. A series of consecutive wins. 2. Something that has been elusive to Purdue basketball in 2020.
Last season Purdue won eight in a row starting with its overtime win in Madison. This allowed it to take control of the Big Ten race. Two years ago the Boilers ripped off 19 in a row, a school record, en route to 30 wins overall. During the 2017 Big Ten title season Purdue had a seven game winning streak as its longest. Even in 2016 Purdue won its first 11 games before fading.
Obviously, this year has been different. The longest winning streak we have seen was a mere three games over Chicago State, Jacksonville State, and VCU. Since then Purdue has practically alternated wins and losses, winning two in a row against Virginia and Northwestern, then Central Michigan and Minnesota. It has been more than a month now since Purdue followed a win with another win, a series that saw four losses in five games at one point (the win being a blowout of Michigan State, because this season is drunk).
Purdue probably will not make the NCAA Tournament without having at least a three-game hot streak somewhere along the way here. What better time than now, with an excellent Iowa squad coming to town?
From: Iowa City, IA
Date: Wednesday, February 5, 2020
Tip Time: 8pm
Location: West Lafayette, IN
Arena: Mackey Arena (14,804)
Online: Fox Sports Go
Radio: Purdue Radio Network
SiriusXM Satellite: XM (Ch. 381); Internet (Ch. 968)
Live Stats: bit.ly/PurdueLiveStats
Odds: No Line Yet
2018-19 Record: 23-12, 10-10 Big Ten (Lost to Tennessee 83-77 (OT) in NCAA Second Round)
2019-20 Record: 16-6, 7-4 Big Ten
Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 90-76
Last Iowa Win: 83-78 at Iowa on 1/12/2017
Last Purdue Win: 86-70 at Purdue on 1/3/2019
NCAA Tournament History: 26 appearances, last in 2019. 1956 NCAA Runner-up
Coach: Fran McCaffery (190-138 in 10th season at Iowa, 441-315 overall)
Once again, Purdue faces a critical game at home against a top 25 team. For the most part, Purdue has responded. It has beaten Michigan State, Virginia, and Wisconsin (who was not ranked at the time) soundly, but was soundly beaten by a top 25 Illinois. Before we even begin to look at Iowa we need to admit that “home Purdue” absolutely has to show up in order to have a chance.
The Hawkeyes have been solid this year, and they are an impressive 7-4 in Quad 1 NET games. They had a very good neutral court win over Texas Tech and also won at Syracuse in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. They also won at Iowa State and beaten Cincinnati in Chicago. Within the conference they have done what most teams have done. They have been dominant at home in wins over Minnesota, Maryland, Michigan, Rutgers, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Away from home, not so much. They, too, lost at Nebraska and flipped an 18-point home win over Maryland into a 10 point road loss. Their lone road conference win was at Northwestern, and they gave up 103 points in a loss at Michigan.
What we have in this one is the best offense in the conference going against the best defense in the conference. Iowa is a very good scoring team at 78.9 points per game, but that comes at a price. They are 13th in the league defensively, giving up 70.2 per game. Purdue is the opposite. We give up a league best 60.4 points per game, but are 12th in scoring at 67.2. That means a clash of styles.
Iowa features one of the best big men in the country in junior Luka Garza. He has had a Big Ten Player of the Year type of season averaging 23 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. He is almost automatic at the basket and he can step out and shoot the three at a 38.2% clip. He leads the entire Big Ten in scoring and is second in rebounding.
Garza gets a lot of space inside because he has some very good three-point shooters outside giving him space. Joe Wieskamp (15.1 ppg) and CJ Fredrick (11.6 ppg) are each having great years. Fredrick has been downright lethal from outside at 46.9%. Jordan Bohannon has been hurting us for three years now, as he had 12 points in Iowa last win over us when he was a freshman. He provides the steady senior leadership any team would want at the point.
Iowa is also a very deep team. Ryan Kriener, Joe Toussaint, Connor McCaffery, and Jack Nunge all contribute more than six points per game. This is a very versatile team with a dominant center and perimeter players that shoot better than 35 % from three. That makes them very, very difficult to defend.
What’s concerning to me is that Iowa just beat the same Illinois team that had very little trouble in beating Purdue twice. They are fourth nationally in KenPom’s adjusted offense and the only thing that is really holding them back is a pretty bad defense (81st nationally). We might be able to slow them down a little, but can Purdue’s own inefficient and inconsistent offense score enough to stay close?
I honestly have a very bad feeling about this one. Getting it would be huge. It would be another excellent win in what might be the toughest home game left. I feel like the comeback in Evanston, however, was a mere reprieve. Purdue cane dangerously close to seeing it season spiral away and while we have had plenty of excellent moments that were supposed to be turning points (Virginia, Michigan State, Minnesota, etc.), we still lack consistency. Since we’re not winning in Bloomington on Saturday the importance of this game feels even more heightened.
I really hope I am wrong and the same Purdue that blasted Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Virginia shows up.