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Purdue Basketball: Northwestern Preview

Purdue looks to exact revenge on the Wildcats after coming up on the short end of a game of basketbrawl in Evanston earlier this season.

Northwestern v UCLA Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Northwestern University

Overall Record: 15-5

Big 10 Record: 6-3 (4th)

KenPom Ranking: 47

Basic Information

Location: Evanston Illinois

Type of School: Private Research University

Mascot: Willie the Wildcat

Head Coach - Chris Collins

Seasons at Northwestern: 11

Career Record: 171-167

Conference Championships: 0

NCAA Appearances: 2

Kenpom Style of Play

() = National Ranking per Kenpom

Offense

Adj. Efficiency: 116.2 (36)

Avg. Poss. Length: 18.5 (298)

Defense

Adj. Efficiency: 101.3 (83)

Avg. Poss. Length: 18.3 (343)

Tempo

Adj. Tempo: 64.2 (339)

Kenpom 4 Factors

() = National Ranking per Kenpom

Offense

Effective FG%: 54.3 (41)

Turnover %: 13.4 (7)

Off. Reb. %: 25.5 (293)

FTA/FGA: 28.3 (292)

Defense

Effective FG%: 51.1

Turnover %: 20.7

Off. Reb. %: 30.2 (221)

FTA/FGA: 38.9 (303)

Personnel

Northwestern Starters

Position Number Player Class Height Weight Previous Team Minutes Points Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks
Position Number Player Class Height Weight Previous Team Minutes Points Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks
Point Guard 0 Boo Buie Sr. 6'2" 180 N/A 35.8 18.5 3.4 5.3 1.4 0.1
Shooting Guard 3 Ty Berry Sr. 6'3" 185 N/A 30 11.4 4 1.3 1.5 0
Small Forward 5 Ryan Langborg Sr. 6'4" 195 N/A 33.3 11.5 3.1 2.4 1.2 0.3
Power Forward 13 Brooks Barnhizer Jr. 6'6" 215 N/A 36 14.7 6.6 2.9 2 0.8
Center 34 Matthew Nicholson Sr. 7'0" 280 N/A 20.9 5.3 3.9 1.9 0.5 1.4

Northwestern Bench

Position Number Player Class Height Weight Previous Team Minutes Points Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks
Position Number Player Class Height Weight Previous Team Minutes Points Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks
Combo Guard 11 Jordan Clayton Fr. 6'2" 180 N/A 8.2 0.5 0.6 0.6 0.3 0
Forward 2 Nick Martinelli So 6'7" 200 N/A 20.5 7.2 3.2 0.9 0.6 0.2
Center 32 Blake Preston Sr. 6'9" 240 N/A 10.1 2.1 2.4 0.8 0.3 0.4
Center 33 Luke Hunger So. 6'10" 255 N/A 10.3 4.2 1.7 0.6 0.1 0.3

Previous Game KenPom Box Score

12-1 PU vs NW - NW Box

Player Minutes ORtg %Ps PTs 2PM/A 3PM/A FTM/A OR DR A TO Blk Stl PF
Player Minutes ORtg %Ps PTs 2PM/A 3PM/A FTM/A OR DR A TO Blk Stl PF
Boo Buie 43 137 32 31 8-15 2-5 9-10 1 3 9 0 0 2 4
Ty Berry 35 136 21 21 4-6 3-5 4-4 0 2 4 2 0 1 4
Ryan Langborg 42 126 17 20 3-8 4-5 2-4 0 4 2 0 0 1 1
Brooks Barnhizer 38 79 15 8 3-7 0-1 2-4 0 5 2 1 0 1 4
Matthew Nicholson 12 99 16 2 1-3 0-0 0-0 1 1 1 0 1 1 5
Blake Preston 19 79 19 4 1-3 0-1 2-7 1 2 1 0 0 2 4
Nick Martinelli 19 0 5 0 1-2 0-1 0-0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
Luke Hunger 14 114 28 6 1-2 1-3 1-3 2 3 2 0 0 0 5
Jordan Clayton 4 N/A N/A 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1
Team 1
Total 92 21-46 (46%) 10-20 (50%) 20-32 (63%) 5 (12%) 33 (58%) 22 (71%) 3 (4%) 1 (2%) 8 (10%) 29

12-1 NW vs PU - PU Box

Player Minutes ORtg %Ps PTs 2PM/A 3PM/A FTM/A OR DR A TO Blk Stl PF
Player Minutes ORtg %Ps PTs 2PM/A 3PM/A FTM/A OR DR A TO Blk Stl PF
Braden Smith 42 89 23 12 5-10 0-2 2-2 1 6 9 6 0 1 4
Lance Jones 31 86 19 10 1-4 1-7 5-6 0 5 0 1 1 0 5
Fletcher Loyer 34 138 16 17 2-3 3-5 4-5 1 2 1 2 0 0 2
Trey Kaufman-Renn 13 57 36 3 0-3 0-0 3-6 2 4 2 3 0 0 3
Zach Edey 38 128 36 35 10-17 0-0 15-20 5 9 1 3 3 0 4
Mason Gillis 28 93 9 4 0-1 2-2 2-2 2 4 0 2 0 0 2
Camden Heide 18 180 5 3 0-1 1-1 0-0 1 3 1 0 0 0 4
Caleb Furst 11 148 11 4 2-2 0-1 0-0 1 5 0 0 0 0 2
Ehtan Morton 8 N/A N/A 0 0-0 0-1 0-0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1
Myles Colvin 2 N/A N/A 0 0-0 0-1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Team 3 2
Total 225 88 21-41 (51%) 5-19 (26%) 31-41 (76%) 16 (42%) 36 (88%) 15 (58%) 17 (21%) 4 (9%) 1 (1%) 27

Playing Style

Offense

If you built a team to give Purdue trouble, you would build this Northwestern team. Don’t take this the wrong way; Northwestern is not an elite team (if there is such a thing in college basketball outside Purdue) like Arizona, Tennessee, Alabama, or Illinois (all current top 10 KP victories for Purdue) but they do all the things Purdue hates.

I don’t need to tell y’all about Boo; he’s been doing his thing in the Big 10 since Matt Painter was calling the shots from the point for Purdue. He’s a crafty one-on-one scorer who thrives late in the shot clock. The Wildcats will probe early in the shot clock, looking for an easy bucket, but if they don’t find one they’re happy to pull it out under 10 seconds, put the ball in Buie’s hands, and let him go to work. Sometimes with a high pick and roll, and sometimes in a straight spread floor Iso.

Buie wants to run the Northwestern offense from the paint. He loves to drive into the paint, stop, pivot, and then assess the situation. If there’s no double, he’ll pivot and squirm (often times playing fast and loose with his pivot foot) until he finds an opening to get the ball headed in the direction of the basket. It’s rare to see a guy with such a wide array of shots. In the age of analytics and one-dimensional basketball players, Boo is a throwback to a time when everything didn’t have to be a layup or a three. I think defenders struggle with the idea that a guard is capable of coming to a jump stop in the lane while still looking to score the ball.

In the first matchup, Purdue threw everyone but Braden Smith at Buie. Lance Jones looks like the preferred matchup, but Boo drew 2 awful fouls on Lance by stopping and throwing his ass at him when Jones was in a trail position. Once Jones was out of the game with fouls, Purdue didn’t have an answer.

Everything tends to run through Boo, but Northwestern wasn’t afraid to heat Ty Berry up when they found a matchup they liked. In the first half, the Wildcats stayed in the game because Berry destroyed Fletcher Loyer on defense. Any time Northwestern found that matchup, they’d open the court, send Boo to the corner and let Berry drive Loyer. His incredibly efficient 21 points gave Northwestern a second scorer outside of Boo. Look for Northwestern to attack Purdue’s defense in a similar way again tonight. They’re going to hunt Fletcher, and he has to respond because at this point, Purdue’s rotation is so light there aren’t many other options other than Morton off the bench.

Still, Purdue wins in Evanston if Buie and Berry go off and everyone else is kept in check. Enter Ryan Langborg. The thing about giving up a ton of straight line drives by Boo and Berry is Northwestern has shooters capable of punishing help defense. Buie ended the game with 9 assists, Berry ended the game with 4 assists, and a few of those were to a wide open Langborg, who hit 4-5 from deep.

It’s strange; you would think teams would try and bomb away from deep against Purdue, but that’s what the Boilermakers want. Matt Painter will let you take as many contested 3’s as you want. What he doesn’t want is the opposing guards getting into the lane and kicking out to open shooters for wide open looks. Northwestern hit 10-20 3’s against Purdue last time out, and I didn’t keep track, but I’m going to say 7 of those 10 were catch and shoot from either Berry or Langborg off of Buie or Berry drives.

Interestingly enough, when teams actually attack Purdue in the paint, like Northwestern does with Buie, Purdue commits fouls on defense. I know, I know, it’s a tough concept for most to grasp, but when the other team attacks off the dribble and looks to score the ball, Purdue fouls like most teams. When teams take nothing but jumpers, the Boilermakers dominate the foul category. The Wildcats had Purdue’s guards in foul trouble all night.

You want a good barometer for March?

Watch this game.

This is the type of ball Purdue struggles to defend. It’s based on Northwestern’s guards getting into the lane, contracting Purdue’s defense and then either scoring or finding open shooters. Watch how many times Buie and Berry drive the ball into the paint. In the first game, they lived in the paint, gutting Purdue with straight drives to the basket. If the Boilermakers can’t keep them out of the painted area tonight, it will give you a good idea about the type of team Purdue does not want to face in March.

Defense

Northwestern’s defense is also problematic for Purdue. Simply put, they don’t care how many points Edey scores. In fact, the more the offense revolves around Zach, the better for Northwestern. They have 3 centers with 5 fouls apiece, and they won’t hesitate to burn all 15 because those guys are essentially designated screeners in the offense. Against Purdue, Northwestern’s posts are interchangeable. I know announcers get excited when a starter gets in foul trouble, but Chris Collins does not care.

Northwestern wants to make Purdue a one-dimensional team on offense. They’re happy to let everyone else stand around and watch Zach try and win the game one point at a time from the foul line. In fact, after re-watching the game, once Zach gets the ball in the paint they either wrap him up or let him go. They don’t even try to defend him. What they want to do is force Purdue to be inefficient in getting the ball to Zach. Chris Collins knows where the ball is going to go. He knows his center doesn’t have a chance to stop Zach in the post. He also knows Purdue is going to try and get Zach a touch on every possession. Purdue had 17 turnovers in the first game. I’m willing to bet (I’ll go back and count later) at least 10 came from Purdue trying to force the ball into Zach and another 3 came directly from Zach. That’s 13 empty possessions. Sure, Zach looks super efficient, going 10-17 from the field, but those turnovers aren’t cooked into that number.

What they don’t want is Purdue to get out and run. They don’t want any flow to the game. Collins wants Purdue to walk the ball up the court and throw the ball into Zach. His entire defensive game plan is built around that idea. Down the stretch in the last game, his post defenders gave up any notion of trying to defend Zach and forced a couple of steals by selling out to deflect the entry pass. Again, if they know where the ball is going, and they know Zach is going to score if he gets the ball, there is no risk in the gamble. If Zach catches the ball, turns and dunks, it doesn’t matter, he was probably going to do that or get fouled anyway. The risk/reward equation for trying to stop the ball from getting into an unstoppable player is heavily weighted to the reward side.

Matchup To Watch

Lance Jones vs Boo Buie

Boo dominated this matchup last game (aided by two terrible foul calls). Jones stayed in foul trouble and once Buie has a guy in foul trouble, he attacks the rim knowing that guy doesn’t want to pick up another foul.

Sure, Boo has been playing college basketball since the Carter Administration, but Lance is a bit of an old-head himself. In the last game, Buie worked Lance like he was a freshman. Tonight Lance needs to seek his revenge (and watch out for the Buie ass attack).

If Lance can narrow the scoring gap between he and Boo by either holding Buie close to his average, or finding a way to score enough to offset a big Boo night, Purdue will win the game.

Prediction

KenPom

Purdue: 80

Northwestern: 66

Confidence: 11%

Drew

Purdue: 83

Northwestern: 74

I like the Boilermakers at home in this one. I’ve talked all about Northwestern being a tricky matchup for Purdue, but I’ll never go against this Purdue team at home. Hot shooting short circuits the Northwestern defense and the Boilermakers shoot well at home.

While I’ve gone over all the things Northwestern does that Purdue doesn’t like, Northwestern ran their game plan to absolute perfection in the first matchup and came away with an overtime win. I don’t think they can play any better. I think Purdue, especially at home, can and will play much better.

The Boilermakers open up a 10-12 point lead in the second half, force Northwestern to come out and actually play ball, and win this one going away.