Editor’s Note: This preview would be more useful published before the game and not sitting in queue. We apologize. But to make sure our writer remembers his hubris as Purdue struggles with the Scarlet Knights, we’ll post it now.
Well, sorry about that last game. #1 Purdue had the #1 ranking hanging in front of them to grab and when I had taken them as 11 point favorites it wasn’t even known that Iowa’s best player would be out. The line jumped to 16.5 points by tip off.
For most the game, it looked like Purdue might still cover that. They dominated while playing poorly. They were up double-digits at half time. They extended the lead further in the second.
Then Iowa pressed. Then Purdue panicked. Deja vu. Nightmares. The inevitable. Whatever it felt like to you at that moment, I understand. Purdue turned the ball over. Then they turned it over again.
Purdue won the game 77-70. Despite Iowa cutting the lead all the way to 2 points. Purdue still won. A tiny exhale of breath.
It’s never comforting to see the same team attack in the same way that your program has grown accustomed to struggling at. Purdue lost an eerily similar big lead at home to Iowa just a few seasons before. This time they were able to turn things around, rallying around a Mason Gillis tie up, and their best defensive performance of the season.
While the offense struggled to pass mid court and didn’t break 80 for the first time this season, they held Iowa’s second best defense to a 5-21 three point shooting performance and dominated the glass by a margin of 12.
They won this game and that matters. The thing about having three great players, even when two of them are having off offensive performances, one can still control portions of the game. That’s what Purdue had with Jaden Ivey doing Jaden Ivey things, forcing turnovers, attacking in transition, and getting to the rim.
The thing about having 10 really good players. Any game, any amount of them can step up. That’s what they got when Mason Gillis dropped 12 points on just 3 points. He made both his threes and the biggest play of the game by tying up a missed free throw on the front end of a 1 and 1.
So Purdue thrived and ended up winning by three possession. Purdue is now #1. It doesn’t mean they will be perfect. They weren’t at all against Iowa. But they’re showing at the end of the day, even if not at their best, they have enough to take care of business.
Which is about all Purdue will need despite going into their first true road game of the season when they go to Rutgers on Thursday.
Purdue are -11 point favorites against Rutgers on the road. Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.
While the Big Ten is probably the deepest conference in the country and theoretically every team is a challenge, there are a couple this year that are really going to give that theory a challenge. At this current moment, Rutgers is one of those teams. They were more than just a tough out last year or a good story. They were a damn good team. They won a lot of games, including against Purdue.
But this current production of Rutgers is missing key contributors from last year’s squad that they never replaced. Geo Baker is hurt. Ron Harper can’t shoot this season. The entire team can’t shoot. They’re not defending either.
Name something, Rutgers is doing it worse this year. Geo Baker has not done anything athletically since his hamstring injury over three games ago. It’s unlikely he’ll be anywhere ready to go on Thursday.
They have the 152nd best offense and 60th best defense on the season. Lehigh took them to overtime to start the season. They loss to DePaul and Lafayette. They just lost to Illinois by more than thirty points. Right now they’re not a serious contender in a game against the best team in the country.
But they do have size everywhere. They’re won of the tallest teams in the country, with only one rotation player under 6’6”. That could give Purdue’s smaller front court some trouble. But Rutgers doesn’t have real height past 6’11” Clifford Omoruyi. They will have to make a choice: aggressively double or allow Zach Edey and Trevion Williams to have their way one on one in the post.
Purdue is still the second best three-point team in the country. They’re 7th inside the arc. This is the Boilermaker conundrum. A team will likely beat Purdue this year. #1 teams lose all the time, but if you’re going to beat this Purdue team, this season, you’re going to have to score some points to do it.
In a game where Purdue turned the ball over 17 times and shot just 13-31 from two, they stilled scored 77 points against Iowa. Rutgers has topped 75 points just once this season, in an 85-83 loss to Massachusetts.
It’s unfortunate they’ll be without their best offensive player at home. It was the only chance they had, without him, expect the Boilers to run this game comfortably.
Give me Purdue and the points.
Basketball GameDay Vitals
|Indiana Hoosiers||Record: 13-4, 4-3 Big Ten|
|Indiana Hoosiers||Record: 13-4, 4-3 Big Ten|
|Game Location:||Bloomington, IN|
|Venue:||Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall (17,222)|
|Odds:||Purdue by 3.5|
|Date & Time:||Thursday, January 20, 2022, 7pm ET|
|TV:||Fox Sports 1|
|Live Stats:||Purdue Sports|
|Blog Representation:||Crimson Quarry|
|2020-21 Record||12-15, 7-12 Big Ten|
|NCAA Tournament History:||39 appearances, last in 2016. 5-time NCAA Champion|
|Series With Purdue:||Purdue leads 124-89|
|Last Purdue win:||67-58 at Purdue on 3/6/2021|
|Last Indiana win:||77-73 at Indiana on 2/20/2016|
|Coach:||Mike Woodson (13-4 in first season at Indiana)|