Purdue enters their matchup against the Spartans with a 3 game winning streak after dropping a home game to Rutgers. Following a 27 point performance against Nebraska on Friday, Fletcher Loyer is averaging 13.2 points per game and is shooting 36.6% from behind the arc while Edey continues to be his dominate self averaging 21.3 points, 13.2 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks per game. Michigan State is led by a trio of double digit scorers in Tyson Walker (13.9), Joey Hauser (13.6), and A.J. Hoggard (12.5).
Let’s get into the important matchups between the Boilermakers and the Spartans:
1 | Who Controls the Boards?
Traditionally both Purdue and Michigan State are two of the best rebounding teams in the B1G and this year is no different with the Boilers checking in at 8th nationally with 40.5 rebounds and the Spartans at 68th with 38.1. This game very well could come down to who is able to generate second chance scoring opportunities for themselves along with cutting the other teams chances down by getting defensive rebounds.
Purdue has only had one game this season where they have been outrebounded (Marquette) and have held a 14 rebound advantage in every other game, even in games where they struggled (Davidson and at Nebraska) and their lone loss on the season (Rutgers). But the key for the Boilers has been their offensive rebounding where they have been in double digits in 11 of their 17 games this season but in only one game did they have less than 9 (Marquette). This is where the game may be won by the Boilermakers since the Spartans average more defensive rebounds than the Boilers.
2 | Zach Edey vs. Double & Triple Teams
In years past, Tom Izzo has had at least one guy who could body up against Purdue’s 7 footers to prevent the rest of Purdue’s roster from getting good looks from behind the arc. This is one reason why Trevion Williams was able to really dominate in the games he played against them in his career. This season though they really only have a guy who is 6’9 and 235 pounds in Sisoko to challenge Edey on the interior. Could we see freshman Carson Cooper (6’11 230) be used more than his 5 minutes per game he has averaged so far? Of course, especially if Edey is able to get Sisoko and freshman Jaxon Kohler in foul trouble early on. If not, it’ll be Joey Hauser at 6’9 and 220 pounds trying to guard Edey in the middle.
The issue for the Spartans is that over the last 3 games Purdue has finally shown an ability to hit the open looks generated by the sun-sized gravitational pull that is Zach Edey in the interior post. At times against Nebraska, there were three different Cornhuskers in the paint PRIOR to a pass even being attempted into the post and that leaves guys open all along the arc. With that, Edey has also shown a great presence by being patient and finding those players on the wing. I still think that Edey needs to square up more to the basket and find the diving player onto the opposite block to prevent more of those double teams from coming to him.
As I have said previously, this is one that I should probably just copy and paste but just change the names of the teams and players.
3 | Caleb Furst/Mason Gillis vs. Joey Hauser
This will be an important matchup because it appears as though Malik Hall may be unavailable for the Spartans after he was injured in their game against the Illini and he was spotted at practice in a walking boot and street clothes just yesterday. Hall is MSU’s best overall player and is really the straw that stirs the drink for the Spartans. Due to this, the defense on a guy like Hauser who is a threat out to the three point line (40.3%) becomes even more important as he will likely look for his shot even more.
Why is Malik hall in a boot pic.twitter.com/rezofN0GZJ— Derrick Boots (@vxssmgmkph) January 15, 2023
The positive in this for Purdue is that Sisoko has not attempted a three point shot yet this season and guard A.J. Hoggard is shooting just 26.3% on the season. If Michigan State does try to go to a ‘small ball’ type of lineup, they really run the risk of just getting blown out on the interior while just not having enough capable shooters from outside to put Purdue and Zach Edey into a bind.
With Malik Hall appearing to need more time to recover and being seen in a walking boot, and with Purdue seemingly on the upswing with their shooting from behind the arc, I’m going to take the Boilers here. The great thing that many of these freshman got was having to play at the Palestra and get a win in an environment that could be considered a one-off equal to that of the Breslin Center. Edey will be too much on the inside or the combination of shooters for Purdue will be too much from the outside.
Michigan State: 68