It is hard to believe, but Tuesday’s game is the first ranked vs. ranked game involving Purdue since… That Night in Louisville. If you’re looking at regular season you have to go back to February 12, 2019 when #12 Purdue lost at #24 Maryland. It is a bit of a surprise that this is a ranked vs. ranked matchup considering that Wisconsin started the year at No. 7 and Purdue had nine teams in the Big Ten alone that were ahead of them based on who received votes.
It has been a long journey for both teams. The Badgers won a share of the Big Ten last season and had dreams of a repeat, but have faltered. Purdue was just trying to get back to the NCAAs and has surprised many. With a victory tomorrow and Saturday against Indiana Purdue will lock up yet another top 4 finish and double bye to the Big Ten Tournament, something it has done in every COMPLETED Big Ten Tournament since 2015.
What can I say? We don’t like playing on Thursdays in that.
This is a big game for Purdue. The Boilers have a very good chance at locking up a top 4 seed in the NCAAs which would be quite an accomplishment for such a young team.
From: Madison, Wisconsin
Date: Tuesday, March 2, 2021
Tip Time: 9pm
Location: West Lafayette, Indiana
Arena: Mackey Arena (14,804)
Radio: Boilermaker Sports Network
Live Stats: bit.ly/PurdueLiveStats
Odds: Purdue by 1
2019-20 Record: 21-10, 14-6 Big Ten (Regular Season Co-Champions)
2019-20 Record: 16-9, 10-8 Big Ten
Record vs. Purdue: Purdue leads 110-71
Last Purdue win: 89-65 at Purdue on 2/18/2020
Last Wisconsin win: 57-53 at Wisconsin on 2/15/2018
Blog Representation: Bucky’s 5th Quarter
NCAA Tournament History: 24 appearances, last in 2019. 1941 NCAA Champion
Coach: Greg Gard (117-66 in 6th season at Wisconsin)
It is safe to say that Mackey Arena is a house of horrors for Wisconsin basketball. That doesn’t just include last season when Purdue rolled them by 24 and Isaiah Thompson was our leading scorer with 14. They are 4-41 all-time in Mackey since it opened. That included 1-32 stretch and 29 straight losses before from February 15. 1972 until 2005. Here are their only wins ever in Mackey:
February 15, 1972 – 84-65 - Purdue finished 11-12 and Wisconsin was 13-11
January 5, 2005 – 77-58 – They snapped the streak against Gene Keady’s final team that was awful
January 12, 2012 – 67-62 – Wisconsin goes 26-10 and reaches the Sweet 16
January 25, 2014 – 72-58 – This was a Wisconsin team that went to the Final Four
That’s the list. Wisconsin’s best team perhaps ever in 2015 did not travel to West Lafayette, but some other pretty good teams have come to Mackey to die. Last year Purdue wasn’t great, but it was a night a lot like Iowa, Virginia, and Michigan State when everything was clicking and we enjoyed a blowout win.
This year’s Badger squad has been up and down, but like everyone else in the conference, is a tough out. They are 9-9 against the top two NET tiers, but have not been nearly as dominant at home as they usually are. In fact, they have lost more games at home (5) than away from home (4). They have gotten to stay cozy at home in Madison for 16 games while it seems Purdue has barely been home, going 10-1 on Keady Court so far. Wisconsin did go to Maryland and Rutgers and win where Purdue lost, but they also lost at Penn State. They come to West Lafayette having lost 4 of 6, only beating Nebraska and Northwestern in that stretch.
Purdue does need to concern itself with D’Mitrik Trice, who tried to beat Illinois by himself on Saturday and came really close to doing so. He averages 14.1 points per game but had 29 against the Illinois. That included an astounding 19 points in the final 2:12 of the game. Micah Potter fills the traditional Wisconsin role of “white forward who rebounds, hits threes, and dishes out pain on screens”, lacking only the Polish last name. He averages 12.5 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. You also have Brad Davison, who has been at Wisconsin since 1734 and is always a dangerous three-point threat even if his average is down to 8.8 points per game.
Wisconsin has struggled to score in league play. Purdue has improved from a league worst 14th to now 10that 70.9 points per game. The Badgers are 13th at 69.8 points per game, ahead of only Maryland. They do boast the league’s best defense, however, giving up 63.2 per game. Purdue is 4th in that category at 65.7. That makes these teams pretty evenly matched.
The Badgers do have the size to come at Purdue. Aleem Ford and Nate Reuvers give them some strong bodies in the front court and they, along with Potter, can pull Trevion Williams and Zach Edey away from the basket with their ability to hit the three. The 6’9” Tyler Wahl also plays 24 minutes a night to give them even more size. This is a game where the defense of Mason Gillis and Aaron Wheeler is critical.
This game definitely looks like your more traditional Big Ten slugfest. Wisconsin hasn’t scored more than 70 points in a month and they haven’t gotten to 75 since beating Indiana 80-73 on January 7th (and they needed double overtime for that). As always, the key will be Purdue hitting its open looks from three. We get them every game. If they fall, Purdue can beat anyone in America. If not, we struggle.