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Purdue Basketball: Rutgers Preview

Following a double bye in the conference tourney, Purdue looks to avenge the season’s first loss against Rutgers in the third round of the Big 10 tournament.

Rutgers v Purdue Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

#1 seed Purdue (0-0) vs. #9 seed Rutgers (1-0)

Friday, March 10th, 2023, 12:00 EST

United Center, Chicago, Illinois



Rutgers Starting Lineup

Position # Player Class Height Weight Hometown Previous Team
Position # Player Class Height Weight Hometown Previous Team
C 11 Clifford Amoruyi Jr 6'11" 240 Benin City, Nigeria
PF 5 Aundre Hyatt Jr 6'6" 227 The Bronx, NY Louisiana State
SF 22 Caleb McConnell Sr 6'7" 200 Jacksonville, FL
SG 10 Cam Spencer Sr 6'4" 207 Davidsonville, MD
PG 4 Paul Mulcahy Sr 6'7" 213 Bayonne, NJ

Rutgers Bench

Position # Player Class Height Weight Hometown Previous Team
Position # Player Class Height Weight Hometown Previous Team
PF/C 21 Dean Reiber Jr 6'10 225 Greensboro, NC
PF 1 Oskar Palmquist Jr 6'8" 220 Kinna, Sweden
SG 0 Derek Simpson Fr 6'3" 170 Mt. Laurel, NJ

Rutgers on Offense

The Rutgers offense has slipped significantly in the final half of Big 10 play. Their adjusted offensive efficiency is 105.5 (174th nationally), nothing to write home about. The Scarlet Knights’ effective FG% is just 47.7 and they’ve dropped to 306th in men’s college hoops.

Rutgers shoots 31.8% from three (302nd and 12th in conference at 32.5%), 47.7% from two (284th and last in conference at 46.5%), and hit 70.2% of free throws (242nd, 11th in conference at 68%) while not drawing many fouls.

They have a decent amount of shots blocked, but tend not to turn the ball over terribly often, so active hands from Purdue’s defense will matter here.

Due to injury, the Scarlet Knights’ rotation has shuffled around quite a bit in the last quarter of the season and has struggled to find rhythm. Rutgers limped to a 2-6 finish in their last month of the season before today’s win over a talented Michigan squad that appeared to have never played basketball together before this afternoon.

With the injury to Mawot Mag, Clifford Amoruyi is the only remaining major threat down low with Edey protecting the rim. If Edey can exceed the two blocks he had in the last meeting without as much contention in the painted area, the Boilers will have several opportunities to build leads in the first half. Let’s please just not make this another instance of Purdue going up big in the first half only to squander the well-earned lead in the second.

Thankfully, Rutgers doesn’t have “good at creating space and knocking down open jumpers” on their résumé.

Rutgers on Defense

The Scarlet Knights’ identity has centered around defensive prowess for most of the season. In closing out shots well and playing physically down low, they’ve earned an adjusted defensive efficiency of 89.7, third in the country.

They defend very well. Close contact without fouling, closing out shots, reacting well to high screens and keeping their eyes focused on where the ball could go. You’re not going to catch them off-guard, you just have to out-perform.

Rutgers allows an effective field goal percentage of just 45.7, ranked 14th in men’s hoops. That’s including 30.4% from beyond the arc (21st) and 45.8% on the inside (26th).

The Scarlet Knights also have a penchant for creating turnovers. They’re 28th in D1, creating a turnover on 21.8% of possessions. In conference play, that drops to 19.5% but still places them second in the Big 10.

Their defense has proven to compensate for a less-than-stellar offense and it’s nothing to be ignored even for the assumed Wooden Award winner in Zach Edey. That said, the Scarlet Knights still allowed Michigan’s star center Hunter Dickinson to score almost half of the Wolverines’ points while everybody else was cold from the field.

Should a similar situation arise in their next game against the top-seeded Boilermakers, defense may prevail against everyone else outside The Big Maple, but Zach Edey will be too much to handle down low for the wounded Knights. Edey still posted 19 and 11 in a game with cold shooting, stagnant ball movement (pardon the oxymoron), and poor rebounding from his teammates in the first game of 2023. I doubt that happens a second time against a Rutgers team still unsure of how to adapt to the the position rotation implemented by necessity.

X-Factor - Tempo

For Matt Painter’s team, the recurring theme in close losses this season boils down to simply not attempting enough shots. You can’t expect to win a game in the Big 10 when you’re attempting fewer than 50 shots per game, and first loss came against Rutgers with just 48 attempts from the field. The Boilermakers have enough multi-faceted shooters to where that shouldn’t be a problem the second time around, but there needs to be more urgency in the offensive pace of play.

If Purdue surpasses 55 shot attempts, a spot in the next round is as good as a Jenkins jumper with .9 seconds left on the shot clock.



Purdue - 67

Rutgers - 61

70% confidence


Purdue - 71

Rutgers - 62

This is a different set of Scarlet Knights than those who dealt the Boilermakers their first blemish on what was previously an undefeated season. They’re certainly capable of handling Purdue for long periods of time, but with a lackluster offense as of late, the Boilermakers will be able to outlast the opposition with better shooting from the field and from the stripe all in conjunction with having an overall healthier roster than the first team to best them. My only concern from a Purdue fan’s perspective is that a team who relies heavily on offensive rhythm reacts to a team good at disrupting rhythm and has nothing to lose.