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Opening Odds and Game Preview: #3 Purdue vs. Nicholls

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#3 Purdue looks to end the year on a good note ahead of conference play.

Syndication: Journal-Courier Nikos Frazier / Journal & Courier / USA TODAY NETWORK

This is our blanket statement against almost all schools: Nicholls, formerly known as Nicholls St., is not big enough to handle Trevion Williams and Zach Edey.

While Nicholls is not a particularly strong mid-major, this game will offer something Purdue hasn’t seen much of up to this point: a dominant scoring guard.

Ty Gordon is one of the country’s top scorers. He’s a lead ball handler that’s capable of attacking the hoop, finishing at the basket, and knocking down shots. He’s dangerous in the pull up game and dangerous catch and shoot. He’s on the smaller side, 6’1”, but he drives like a bowling ball with nearly 200 lbs. behind him. He’s a dynamic pick and roll player, capable of getting around and through big men at the rim.

He’s averaging 20.4 points per game and finishes his possession with a shot at the 13th highest frequency in the country. He’s a chucker and he’s good at it. What makes him rare is that he’s improved his three point percentage this year, shooting nearly 38% on threes on 85!!!! attempts (to put that in perspective, Sasha Stefanovic has only shot 71) while maintaining efficiency inside the arc making 55% of his two point shots.

Gordon has attempted double-digits three pointers in his last eight games. He’s scored over 20 points in his last six games, including two 26 point performances against Oregon State and Wisconsin. (Nicholls narrowly missed upsetting Wisconsin, 71-68.)

He’s a big time scorer on big time stages. The kind of guard you always run into in March. Purdue struggled and lost to a North Texas team who had undersized guards who, frankly, outplayed them. This is the kind of test that can show where Purdue is defensively.

Gordon is as good and dangerous a guard that they will play this season. He’s the rare guard who is comfortable attacking with the ball and without. There’s no resting off of him. His entire team looks to find him the ball in transition, in the half-court, and especially after turnovers or offensive rebounds. Limiting those chances will go a long way in preventing Gordon from getting in a rhythm.

Purdue’s guards to this point have struggled to contain the perimeter. They allowed a barely D1 school to shoot near 50% from three in Incarnate Word. Word had easy shots. Purdue can’t be the team they want to be, the team their ranking says they are, if they can’t shut down the perimeter better than that.

Purdue the most efficient team in the country on offense. Their big men have been everything and more. They’ll win this game regardless of how well Gordon is contained. That’s the power of Edey and Williams, two All-American centers subbing in and out for each other. But this is Purdue’s last non-conference game before the NCAA Tournament where they will be tested by guards like Gordon.

It would be nice if Purdue comes out looking like they’ve learned a thing or two from last season.

Basketball GameDay Vitals

Illinois Fighting Illini Record: 13-3, 6-0 Big Ten
Illinois Fighting Illini Record: 13-3, 6-0 Big Ten
From: Champaign, IL
Game Location: Champaign, IL
Venue: State Farm Center (15,544)
Odds: Illinois by 2
Date & Time: Monday, January 17, 2022, Noon ET
Streaming Radio TuneIn
Live Stats: Purdue Sports
KenPom 11
NET 11
Blog Representation: The Champaign Room
2020-21 Record 24-7, 16-4 Big Ten
Postseason Result: Lost to Loyola-Chicago 71-58 in NCAA Tournament Second Round
NCAA Tournament History: 31 appearances, last in 2021. 2005 NCAA Runner-up
Series With Purdue: Purdue leads 102-90
Last Purdue win: 73-56 at Purdue on 2/27/2019
Last Illinois win: 66-58 at Illinois on 1/2/2021
Coach: Brad Underwood (84-59 in 5th year at Illinois, 193-86 overall)