Purdue has seemingly started to struggle late in the season and have seen their once 4 game lead in the B1G whittled away to just 1 game ahead of Northwestern after dropping three straight road games (Indiana, Northwestern, Maryland). Although still the front runner for National Player of the Year, the gap is certainly closing for Zach Edey as he (and everyone on the team for that matter) has struggled to find consistency and intensity.
Ohio State, since that close loss to Purdue have gone 1-11 and struggled to find any sort of consistency scoring an average of just 64.25 points per game in those losses. Brice Sensabaugh continues to be phenomenal as a true freshman in that he is averaging 16.3 points and 5.2 rebounds and looks to be on his way to a Freshman All American type of season before heading off to the NBA as a lottery pick this spring.
Let’s get into the important matchups!
1 | Purdue versus the Referees
I kind of hate starting off an article about matchups pitting Purdue against the referees but after the last two games, I figured this may actually be the biggest matchup against the Buckeyes. The missed calls against Northwestern (which I wrong about in another article released on Friday) and the blatant disregard for Maryland fouling really at any time during that game, I think it is pertinent to Purdue’s success depending on how the game is going to be called. Purdue and their fans aren’t asking for preferential treatment, rather, they are simply asking the game to be called in a fair manner that has the referees ensuring the rules of the game are being followed while not evening the playing field just because there is a 7’4 unicorn on the court.
If Purdue gets a fair whistle in this game, it’s going to be hard for OSU to beat Purdue. This is especially true with the path that OSU has been on for the last 13 games (1-12 record) because they simply don’t have the bodies to defend Edey in the post properly and they don’t have the players to contain a guy like Mason Gillis, Caleb Furst, or Brandon Newman from giving Purdue a massive advantage on the boards. But if the game is called in a manner that prevents Purdue from using their biggest advantage because a set of officials decides they have to even the playing field because it isn’t fair, Purdue is going to struggle.
2 | Fletcher Loyer vs. the 3pt Line
I don’t know how else to say this but it seems that freshman wall so many of us were astounded to see Purdue’s freshman duo not hit; I think Loyer has run full speed into it and is stuck. Over his last 9 games, Loyer is just 9-37 (24.3%) from behind the arc but hasn’t really been forced into poor shots. Most of his looks are clean and come off actions run for him or off rebounds but the shots just aren’t falling. Purdue has a multi-dimensional scorer in Loyer and he has shown that he can score in bunches scoring 20 or more three times this season, but when that shot is falling from the outside then Purdue is incredibly tough to beat. He is a capable 40% or better shooter from behind the arc but he may need the week off after the OSU game to get right.
3 | Zach Edey vs. Zed Key/Felix Okpara & the OSU Double Team
It is no secret now what teams are going to do to Edey in the post at this point in time during the season. Teams are going to double team him as much as they possibly can and force him to pass the ball out because Purdue doesn’t have consistent enough shooting from outside the arc from all four other positions. Zach had some issues with turnovers as he has committed 15 over the past 4 games (6 against Northwestern & 5 against Indiana) but that can be alleviated with guys hitting open 3 pointers. Once that happens, the double comes a little slower and more hesitant or non-existent. It feels like this may be a game where Zach has to carry the load and if Purdue is going to win they are going to need 25 and 15 from Zach heading into a much needed 6 day span between their next game against IU at home.
I’ve been way off the last few predictions and maybe I’ve been looking through some black and gold tinted lenses but Purdue has just looked bad of late. Can that be corrected with just two days between Maryland and at home against OSU? I’m not sure but OSU right now is playing like the worst team in the B1G. This is a game that I don’t care how it gets done but Purdue can’t afford to lose this game if it hopes to win their 25th B1G title.