After a tough defeat at the hand of in-state rival Indiana, Purdue finally had a few days between games to prepare after playing 11 games in a 33 day stretch. Zach Edey is having one of the best seasons in B1G history as he is averaging 22.4 points, 13.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 2.2 blocks while averaging less than 2 fouls per game. He leads the Boilers both offensively and defensively while providing a greater sense of leadership than what Purdue has appeared to have over the past few seasons. Along with Edey, Purdue has a litany of players who have stepped up at different times but freshman Fletcher Loyer continues to prove he is a capable three level scoring threat and compliment to Edey’s dominance inside as he averages 12.4 points, 1.7 rebounds, and 2.5 assists while shooting 38.2% from behind the arc during conference games.
Iowa is having a solid season after losing Keegan Murray (NBA) and Jordan Bohannon (retirement age) but has had Kris Murray take the next step in his development by averaging 20.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 1.8 assists. Murray is a matchup difficulty for any team as he is a 6’8 forward with some guard skills who is able to score at all three levels. Along with Murray’s development, F/C Filip Rebraca has also shown great improvement from last season as he is averaging 13.9 points and 8.2 rebounds (5 points and 5 rebounds last season).
Let’s get into the important matchups for the only season meeting between the Boilermakers and the Hawkeyes!
1 | Offensive Efficiency On Display, So Who Plays Defense?
When looking at Kenpom’s most efficient offenses, Purdue comes in at #2 (121.0) and Iowa comes in at #3 (121.0) which makes this one of the most offensively efficient games we could see all year across any league. If you are a fan of smooth offense getting solid looks for their key players to generate open looks for others, this is a game to be enjoyed. Both programs are known to have great offenses, especially this season, but the key factor may end up being who plays the best defense.
Purdue is, by the metrics, the far superior defensive team in this matchup. Purdue, according to Kenpom, is the 22nd rated defensive team while Iowa is rated 153rd. That would place Iowa in a similar position as previous matchups with Minnesota (151st) and lower than Hofstra (137th). Purdue, by all measure, should be able to get the shots that they want but the key will be will they be able to hit them. Iowa will play a mixture of man-to-man, zone, and will bring some full court pressure so the key for Purdue will be maintaining their efficiency on offense by running their offense through leading NPOY candidate Zach Edey and getting good looks for the players on the wings.
2 | Limiting Turnovers vs. Iowa’s 3⁄4 Press & Zone Defense
Against the Hoosiers in their last game, the Boilers had 16 turnovers but only 5 of those came in the second half as Purdue struggled to 11 turnovers. From those 16 turnovers, Purdue gave up 20 points off turnovers and likely swept away double digit points from themselves on offensive possessions. That is the story of that game but also one that has plagued the Boilers at times throughout the season in games where Purdue has watched big leads melt away or had games that were much too close for comfort.
It seems as though Purdue’s sweet spot for turnovers is around 10 for this season as Purdue’s two losses came with 13 (Rutgers) and 16 (Indiana) turnovers but they also experienced 17 (WVU), 14 (Austin Peay, Ohio State), and 13 (Maryland). In those games Purdue’s average margin of victory is 7.8 points while games with 9 or less turnovers balloons to 15.9 points.
What Iowa lacks in height in the frontcourt (Iowa doesn’t play a player regular minutes who is 6’9 or taller) they make up for in overall length at all positions. They feature guards who are 6’3, 6’5, and 6’7 which poses a difficult proposition for a team with shorter and less physical guards to handle full court pressure and pass over for skip passes in a zone. If Purdue can handle that 3⁄4 court pressure and limit their turnovers to less than 10, Purdue stands a good chance to grab another quality win.
3 | Edey’s Presence on the Inside
Looking at Iowa’s struggles to defend the paint and to give up rebounds to quality big men in the middle, as long as Edey plays to his average he could easily come out of this game with 25 points and 15 rebounds. The key though is going to be how Edey does passing out of the double teams in Iowa’s 2⁄3 zone and also his presence on the defensive end.
In games where Iowa played a quality big man (Michigan, Rutgers, Indiana), Iowa brought an early double team typically from the opposite wing. If Edey can be patient and find an open wing or get a re-post off a kick out, he should be able to score easily in one-on-one situations against an overmatched Iowa frontcourt. Iowa is going to try and limit Edey’s impact on the inside but he should be able to also make a huge impact on the offensive glass as Iowa ranks just 209th in offensive rebounding % when on defense. In the end, Edey’s biggest impact on offense may be on the offensive glass where he can score off Boilermaker misses.
On defense, Iowa offers a lot of length at the wing and guard positions which gave Purdue issues against the Hoosiers but they don’t have a high ability guard like Hood-Schifino on their roster. They do, however, have Kris Murray who is having an All American type season on the wing. He is a capable 3pt shooter at 35% but really gets a lot of his work on the interior against smaller players but Iowa may not have the ability to put 5 players on the floor who are all capable shooters outside to pull Edey away from the basket without potentially just really getting hurt on the glass and on the interior. Even in the event that Iowa netralizs Edey by going small, Purdue still has TKR and Furst who are capable defenders on the wing along with being very good on limited touches in the post.
Iowa has played very well as of late having won 7 of their last 9 games which was highlighted by a massive comeback win over the Hoosiers after being down 21 points roughly midway through the first half. In those 9 games though, Iowa is giving up an average of 76.8 points per game which is 3 points higher than their season average of 73.5. The issue for this game won’t be the offensive end but if the Boilers can limit Kris Murray’s effectiveness on the offensive end with Ethan Morton, Caleb Furst, and Mason Gillis all likely getting opportunities to defend him. In the end, however, Edey’s impact may be too much for Iowa to get over and Fran likely registers to Francon 1 when he thinks the #TheAgreement benefits Edey on the inside for 10 or more foul shots of his own.