Can Purdue make history on Saturday?
Purdue leads the all-time series with Indiana 120-89. They have been dominant of late, winning the last five matchups and eight of the last nine. Still, it is in Bloomington and at Assembly Hall. The Boilers are just 14-31 there all time, with four of those wins coming in our last five trips. The arena opened in 1971 and Purdue had never even won three in a row there until last season. Purdue has not won four in a row down there since 1932 when John Wooden was leading us and the Hoosiers were playing in “The Fieldhouse”, which is their current intramural gym.
Nothing comes easy in Bloomington. I was at the 2013 game in Mackey Arena when the Hoosiers laid down an unmerciful 97-60 beating that wasn’t even that close. Even though we have dominated the series since, it was astounding that they could pull off that level of a beating in West Lafayette. Purdue has never even come close to doing something similar in Assembly Hall as much as we would all love to see it. In the last 43 years we have just one win by double figures in Bloomington: 72-61 in 2011 when IU finished last in the Big Ten at 3-15. That Purdue team was ranked 8th at the time, so one of the biggest mismatches in the series ended was still an 11-point game.
Making it four in a row in Bloomington would be an incredible achievement. It would set up Tommy Luce to become the first four-year player in Purdue history to never lose to the Hoosiers. Even with Indiana having lost three in a row it will not be easy.
It is NEVER easy down there.
From: Bloomington, IN
Date: Saturday, February 8, 2020
Tip Time: 2pm
Location: Bloomington, IN
Arena: Assembly Hall (17,222)
Radio: Purdue Radio Network
SiriusXM Satellite: XM (Ch. 381); Internet (Ch. 968)
Live Stats: bit.ly/PurdueLiveStats
Odds: No Line Yet
2018-19 Record: 19-16, 8-12 Big Ten (lost to Wichita State in NIT Third Round)
2017-18 Record: 15-7, 5-6 Big Ten
Opponent Blog: Crimson Quarry
Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 120-89
Last Indiana Win: 77-73 at Indiana on 2/20/2016
Last Purdue Win: 48-46 at Indiana on 2/19/2019
NCAA Tournament History: 43 appearances, last in 2016. 5-time NCAA Champion
Coach: Archie Miller (50-38 in third season at Indiana, 189-101 overall)
You might as well put up that dual Spiderman graphic here, because Purdue and Indiana have been incredibly similar this year. Both have been more than solid at home. The Hoosiers lost to Arkansas by 7 and Maryland by 1, while Purdue lost to Texas and Illinois. Each team has an impressive home win over an ACC team (Florida State for Indiana, Virginia for Purdue) and a win over Michigan State.
Both teams have also been horrific on the road, too. Indiana has neutral wins over Notre Dame and UConn, but is a dismal 1-5 in true road games, winning only at Nebraska and looking pretty bad in losses at Wisconsin, Maryland, Rutgers, Penn State, and Ohio State. They did manage to win at Nebraska, while Purdue did not. It would not surprise me one bit to see the home team win each game by 20+.
Like Purdue, Indiana has a very inconsistent offense. They average 72.8 points per game, but have really struggled at times and they are one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the conference. That is a good sign when Purdue just held Iowa, a really good three-point shooting team, to 24%. They have been pretty average defensively, giving up 66.5 points per game. They are in the middle of the conference in most statistical categories, but are 13th in turnover margin and last in assist-to-turnover ratio.
Trayce Jackson-Davis has played extremely well for Indiana, and he leads them in scoring as just a freshman. He scores 13.7 points and gets 7.9 rebounds per game. He is also great on the defensive end at 1.9 blocks per game. He shoots 60.9% from the floor and 70.5% from the line, so he is a solid first option.
Justin Smith (11.3 ppg) and Devonte Green (10.6 ppg) also average in double figures. They represent the mercurial nature of Indiana, however. Green hit five threes and had 30 points in the upset of Florida State. He was later scoreless against Rutgers and had a single point against Northwestern. Al Durham and Joey Brunk have also had big moments and moments where they disappear. Brunk was huge against Michigan State, but has been quiet since.
Since this is Indiana, there are also a wealth of lost recruiting battles, too. Rob Phinisee went to IU from nearby McCutcheon and has been a very good point guard so far in his career. Damezi Anderson and Armaan Franklin were also heavily recruited by Matt Painter. Is Purdue better with Eric Hunter Jr. and Trevion Williams over Phinisee and Anderson in the 2018 recruiting class? What about Franklin over the redshirting Brandon Newman?
As always, this is going to be an interesting game. Purdue’s win on a Matt Haarms tip-in last season really tested the limits of the “Every Win Is Beautiful” mantra. It was a win though. If the Purdue that obliterated Iowa last night shows up we’ll win with ease, but that never happens. Every game in Bloomington is a damn war that comes down to the final minute. Indiana is a different team at home, especially against Purdue. They will have a rabid crowd out for blood, and they may even be a little desperate.
Despite the 15-7 record they are comfortably behind Purdue in most computer rankings (51 to 29). Given their own road struggles, they need this game badly. A fourth straight loss, followed by a home game against Iowa and trips to Michigan and Minnesota, could be the death knell to their season. It also could mean a fourth straight season without an NCAA berth, something that has not happened since 1968-72.
I think this could be one of the most important games in the last 50 years of Indiana basketball. They are a program at a crossroads. Archie Miller has struggled to gain traction and another midseason Big Ten swoon would be very bad. It is also hard to imagine, even after the sanctions years, that they could miss the tournament in four straight seasons. A fourth straight loss overall, fourth straight home loss to Purdue, and the abyss of a fourth straight season without an NCAA appearance with no easy answers on the horizon are questions most Indiana fans don’t want to face.
That said, we have seen Purdue on the road. Beating only Ohio and Northwestern while looking like general crap in every road game except Michigan hardly gives me any confidence. Indiana is a program with its back against the wall right now. How does Purdue handle that?