Purdue didn’t do itself any favors dropping a home game to Rutgers earlier in the week that saw them drop to 2-1 in the B1G heading into an important early stretch where Purdue would hope to stretch a good lead in the conference standings. Instead, Purdue will need to play up to their potential on the road at Value City Arena to jump to a 3-1 record and stay ahead of the conference curve.
Let’s take a look at the important matchups against the Ohio State Buckeyes:
1 | Purdue’s size vs. OSU’s lack of height
Purdue is going to be one of the taller teams in the country and likely will have that advantage throughout most of the season but this is a matchup in the B1G that will resemble more of a non-power conference opponent than a conference one. OSU’s tallest player is true freshman Felix Okpara who is 6’11 but only plays an average of 12.5 minutes per game. In fact, OSU doesn’t have a player taller than 6’8 who plays any sort of major minutes in their lineup and that is junior forward Zed Key. It’s not to say those players aren’t highly skilled because they are as they shoot 37.5% from behind the arc and Purdue will need to keep track of Bryce Sensabaugh (46%), Bruce Thornton (45%), and Sean McNeil (36.9%) at all times.
Purdue will be able to counter that with a lineups that will likely feature at least two players taller than OSU’s tallest player with Zach Edey (7’4) and Caleb Furst (6’10) starting for the Boilers since Mason Gillis sat out due to illness. Purdue will need to leverage that advantage inside by getting their post players lots of opportunities and creating a mismatch on the glass by generating second and third chance opportunities on offense and limiting OSU to one shot on the defensive end.
The best guess is that OSU will likely copy the formula that Purdue has struggled with up to this point by double teaming Edey from the low side. Edey needs to turn and face that double team at some point and shoot a shortened mid-range shot or just continue to work to the middle and shoot over much smaller players. This is an instance of Purdue needing to take one of their overwhelming advantages and riding it to a victory. I’d like to see the combination of Furst, TKR, and Edey get 20+ shot attempts at or near the rim tonight.
2 | Defending the 3pt Arc
Ohio State is going to be one of the best shooting teams Purdue will face all season as the Buckeyes shoot 37.5% and rank third in the B1G behind Penn State (38.35%) and Wisconsin (38.21%). Purdue has generally done a good job throughout the season at defending shots behind the arc where they allow teams to shoot just 28.3% (21st) but OSU has the ability to put five players on the floor who are all legitimate threats. Purdue will need their guards and wings to defend at a high level to allow Edey the ability to defend the paint or his advantage on the offensive end will be for not.
We have seen Coach Painter alter lineups throughout games and it wouldn’t surprise me to see a lineup that features both Morton and Newman on the floor in the event Ohio State is shoot very well. It may be very well worth seeing a lineup of Smith, Newman, Morton, Gillis, and Furst out there to see if that can neutralize that advantage OSU has while also still having a post player in Furst to take advantage of their size.
Purdue doesn’t have to force OSU to shoot well below their average but making them take contested shots and make difficult ones is better than giving up open looks that generate lots of momentum. I think the goal would be holding to around 33% for the night and that might be enough to sneak out of Columbus with a win.
3 | Dominating the Offensive and Defensive Rebounds
Purdue has the size the control this aspect of the game but will they come out with the intensity and focus on details to get it done? Coach Painter praised Rutgers for coming in and simply playing hard and more intense in his post game presser on Monday and my guess is that will be an area of focus for the Boilers coming in to tonight. OSU isn’t the tallest team Purdue will face but they may be the best rebounding team they will face and that comes from simply playing harder and going after rebounds.
OSU comes into the game as one of the better rebounding teams in the country at 14th averaging 40.92 per game whereas Purdue checks in at 9th with 41.21. Whoever is able to control the glass in this game to limit their opportunities for second chance points and get more possessions for themselves will have a huge boost to their chance of winning. Purdue can ill afford to allow OSU to out work them and give up multiple chances if they miss their first shot.
I think they mark here has to be giving up 9 or less offensive rebounds and 31 rebounds or less total if Purdue wants to grab a victory tonight.
4 | BONUS MATCHUP: Boiler Bench Points
Purdue comes into the matchup averaging 23 points per game from their bench that includes high level scorers Brandon Newman and David Jenkins Jr. along with a growing inside threat in Trey Kaufmen-Renn. These three players have shown an ability in their careers to have big nights against quality competition along with being focal parts of games when called upon. Purdue being able to go down to their 9th man with little drop off as compared to their opponents is a big advantage Purdue needs to take advantage of by what Coach Painter said ‘emptying your tank every 4 minutes.’
OSU also comes in averaging 23 points per game from players off their bench but that has changed since Brice Sensabaugh has moved into the starting lineup. OSU’s bench now averages just 16.7 points per game and Purdue can take advantage by getting OSU’s starters into foul trouble and forcing their short bench to provide enough scoring to beat Purdue.