Purdue has been off for a week, and it has not been due to a COVID pause. Purdue has been very lucky for basketball in that we have only had one game moved so far, and that was due to Nebraska’s issues. Yes, Sasha Stefanovic will be sitting for the next two games and there are rumors of a very bad summer for Emmanuel Dowuona, but for the most part things have gone well. Now, after an eight day layoff, we get yet another top 25 team on the schedule.
I am not sure what to think of Minnesota. They raced out to a 9-1 start and looked really good in beating Iowa. They are also the only team to beat Michigan this year, who just walked into Mackey and pushed us around. They have had some down moments, too. They come to West Lafayette having lost four of six and in their last game they didn’t even crack 50 points in a 63-49 loss to Maryland at home. That seems to be the MO for the Gophers under Richard Pitino though.
This game kicks off the second half of the Big Ten season for Purdue, and a strong finish gets us back to the NCAA Tournament. I still think four more wins is enough, and getting a win over a ranked Minnesota team would be another excellent win to add into our column.
From: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Game Location: Mackey Arena (14,240)
Date: January 30, 2020
Time: 7:30pm ET
Radio: Boilermaker Sports Network
Odds: No Line Yet
2019-20 Record: 15-16, 8-12 Big Ten
2020-21 Record: 11-5, 4-5 Big Ten
Record vs. Purdue: Purdue leads 105-85
Last Purdue win: 83-78 (2OT) at Purdue on 1/2/2020
Last Minnesota win: 75-73 in Big Ten Tournament on 3/15/2019
Blog Representation: The Daily Gopher
NCAA Tournament History: 14 appearances, last in 2019. Reached 1997 Final Four (vacated)
Coach: Richard Pitino (138-113 in 8th season at Minnesota, 156-127 overall)
Last season Purdue and Minnesota played one of the more entertaining games in conference play. Sasha Stefanovic hit a huge three-pointer with 15 seconds left in regulation to tie the game and send it to OT. It ended up being possibly the best game of Matt Haarms Purdue career as he finished with a career high 26 points on 11 of 16 shooting, but Purdue could not stop Daniel Oturu and Marcus Carr. Oturu had 29 points and 18 rebounds and Carr had 27 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists.
Thankfully, Oturu is safely on the Los Angeles Clippers at the moment. Carr is not, and he is currently third in the Big Ten in scoring at 20.9 points per game. He is also a great distributor, sitting at second in the Big Ten at 5.2 assists. That makes him one of the best overall guards in the Big Ten. He shoots 35% from three and gets to the line with a team high 112 attempts on the season. He has scored 30 or more three times this year, with 32 coming against a top 25 St. Louis team. He also had 30 in the win over Iowa.
Minnesota might rely on him a little too much though. He had 25 of the Gophers’ 49 against Maryland last week. They do have a nice inside-out game thought with junior center Liam Robbins having a great year. The transfer from Drake is averaging 13.3 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. He also defends the rim well with 2.6 blocks per game, which leads the Big Ten. Where Purdue might struggle with him is that he can draw Trevion Williams and Zach Edey from the basket, as he is 14 of 35 from three this year.
Both Gach (9.6 ppg) and Gabe Kalscheur (9.3 ppg) give Minnesota some balance, and Brandon Johnson also averages 8 points per game. They help lead to the hot/cold nature of the Gophers though. No one shoots more threes in the Big Ten. Minnesota has attempted 407 threes on the year, the only team with over 400 attempts. They can go cold though, as they are dead last as a team at 29.55. Purdue’s struggle on defensive switches will give them open looks, so if they can knock them down we’re in trouble. Somewhat surprisingly, Purdue is second in the conference in 3-point defense.
Purdue’s overall defense has been pretty good in the Big Ten. We’re third in the league at 66.9 points per game given up, but it has been our offense that has struggled. With Sasha out we have now had a week to adjust offensively. I think the biggest player in that regard is Brandon Newman. He has the most similar game to Sasha, and in the long run, I think he will surpass him. He’s been up and down offensively though. He has only six points total in the last two games, so he needs to step up. We need more from Jaden Ivey as well.
Trevion is going to be Trevion. We know what we’re getting out of Hunter, Edey, and Gillis as well. This is a game where Newman and Ivey can take a step forward though, and I am excited to see it.