#3 Purdue (23-4, Big 10 12-4) vs. Ohio State (11-15, Big 10 3-12)
February 19, 2023, 1:00 EST
Hall of Fame Weekend
Mackey Arena, West Lafayette, Indiana
Ohio State Starting Lineup
|C||23||Zed Key||Jr||6'8"||255||Bay Shore, NY|
|F||10||Brice Sensabaugh||Fr||6'6"||235||Orlando, FL|
|F||14||Justice Sueing||Sr||6'6"||210||Honolulu, HI||Cal|
|G||4||Sean McNeil||Grad||6'4"||205||Union, KY||West Virginia|
|G||2||Bruce Thornton||Fr||6'2"||215||Alpharetta, GA|
Ohio State Bench
|C||34||Felix Okpara||Fr||6'11"||220||Lagos, Nigeria|
|G/F||0||Tanner Holden||Sr||6'6"||200||Wheelersburg, OH||Wright State|
|G||1||Roddy Gayle||Fr||6'4"||205||Niagara Falls, NY|
Ohio State On Offense
When we last checked on the Buckeyes, they had promise. They were 10-3 and took Purdue, at the time coming off the first loss of the season, down to the wire. Oh how things have changed.
It’s mind-boggling how they keep finding new and creative ways to lose games despite their offensive statistics. Their adjusted offensive efficiency in 26th in the country at 114.8, behind a 136th-ranked effective field goal percentage of 51.5, a 58th-ranked turnover percentage of 16.5, and a 46th-ranked offensive rebound percentage of 33.
They also shoot well, hitting 36.2% of their threes (69th nationally), but drop off significantly with a lack of physical presence down low (50.3%, ranked 179th), and knock down just under 73% of their free throws (138th, still respectable). But with that lack of physical presence that’s become apparent in conference play, they don’t draw a lot of fouls. Still...they are the 24th best team in terms of not having their shots blocked and 26th in terms of fewest offensive turnovers. The fact that they have done so little while excelling in statistical categories is so hard to fathom. Where do things tend to fall apart for Ohio State? Are the Buckeyes simply the biggest casualty of a cannibalizing conference?
Well, yes and no. They’ve shown they can stick in games but seem to lose control in the waning minutes. This excludes losses like that against Michigan State during which they just could not hit a bucket. A lot of their losses are close and hard-fought, but in most of those losses, as soon as an opponent can earn a two-or-three-possession lead within the final three minutes, they fall apart offensively and hit that panic button like a hammer to a nail. Wait, I meant rail. Hammer and Rails.
Ohio State will need a God-tier shooting night to stand a chance against a Purdue team licking their wounds and, more importantly, wondering how those wounds got there.
Ohio State on Defense
This is where Ohio State has really dropped off since the last meeting with Purdue.
Their adjusted defensive efficiency is still nothing to sneeze at with a 111th-ranked 101.9 rating. The Buckeye’s Achilles Heel, however, is that they are just really, really bad at creating turnovers. Sure, Purdue on defense hasn’t been very opportunistic in that regard over the span of the last ten games or so, but that’s not how the Boilers’ offense is designed to operate. On offense, Purdue is very careful with the ball when not hitting that aforementioned panic button when the full-court press rears its ugly head.
Ohio State may have to commit early to end-to-end pressure early on in the game despite not being great at the press, which bodes well for a Purdue team which has to collectively know by now where their main derailment tends to occur. The Buckeyes have posted a 292nd-ranked turnover percentage of 16.4, partially due to a steal percentage of 7.5, ranked 309th. For the Boilermakers, this is the ideal matchup when it comes to the hypothetical of returning to the ways of scoring quickly, efficiently, and, most importantly, setting up the offense in the way that makes the players comfortable while knowing the opposing defense is most likely going to commit to the press early while not being very good at it.
When it comes to guarding as the ball rolls off opponents’ fingers, the Buckeyes close out space well and are one of the better teams in the country at defending shots from beyond the arc, allowing 31.3% of shots to fall (48th). However, that lack of real physical presence down low for a team with this much talent allows a decent-but-not-great 49.1% of two-pointers to reach the bottom of the net with significant drop-off when matched up against physical centers. Zach Edey should be able to get what he wants against Ohio State, be it by drop-step layup, short jump-hook, or barely leaving his toes for a dunk.
Purdue should be able to get back to fancy passing and confusing defenders who aren’t aggressive when it comes to trying to steal.
X-Factor - Possession
We know what’s made Purdue struggle as of late: not being able to control the pace, averaging under 50 shots per game, and looking lost resultant of that unfortunate combination of two things to where the Boilers can’t find an offensive rhythm. Matt Painter’s team needs to take this opportunity to get things back together against a down-and-out group of Buckeyes that were 10-3 on New Year’s Day and are presently 11-15.
Purdue - 76
Ohio State - 66
Purdue - 82
Ohio State - 67
I predict an angry Purdue team looking to prove that multiple stints as the top-ranked team in college basketball wasn’t a fluke. It’s at home, the fans are frustrated but supportive, Ohio State has looked horrible in the second half of the season; it’s a perfect storm for a skull-dragging. As long as the Boilers don’t get too excited, this one should be the type of game that rights the ship...or rather gets the train back on track.