College Basketball Pick
Indiana may have its struggles on the road, but the Hoosiers are still undefeated in Big Ten play at Assembly Hall and will look to carry that feat the rest of the way. Purdue is in that same mold, having only beaten Rutgers and Minnesota in its last six road Games. These teams can bring it at home, but if they don’t figure out how to win on the road, won’t have much success come the postseason.
The Boilermakers were close to winning at Michigan last Saturday, until the Wolverines scored the final 11 points of the Game. They did everything needed from dominating the paint to hitting key shots, but they faltered in the end. The Hoosiers kind of did the same thing at Michigan State, running out to a large first-half lead. However, they were then outscored by 18 points in the second half and ended up only shooting 37.7% from the field.
Indiana lives off its crowd as seen in the win over Iowa a week ago and that will probably be the deciding factor in this Game. That is unless Purdue figures out how to close Games. The Boilermakers have the tools down low to beat anyone in the country, but if they don’t put them to use for the entire Game, they don’t work.
Indiana had trouble guarding MSU’s Matt Costello in the post and will have its hands even more full with A.J. Hammons, Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas of Purdue. It’s hard to see the Boilermakers attacking any other way, considering the Hoosiers don’t have much size with Thomas Bryant and Max Bielfeldt as their two bigs. The freshman Bryant also lacks severely on the defensive end.
It’s unlikely Purdue gets blown out for that reason alone because they should dominate the paint quite easily. The question will be on the perimeter where the Boilermakers have lacked all season. Vince Edwards, P.J. Thompson and Rapheal Davis shot 3-for-15 form the field in the loss to Michigan. It’s an extremely inconsistent group that rarely performs on the road. One thing that could help with a road upset is Rapheal Davis, who is one of the best defenders in the Big Ten. Davis will likely be glued to Yogi Ferrell all Game and if Ferrell fails to get anything going, the Hoosiers usually struggle.
Of course, that’s not to say Indiana doesn’t have any other options since they lead the Conference in scoring. Bielfeldt will give problems stretching the floor, making Swanigan come out and guard him on the perimeter.
These teams are almost the opposite in the way they play. The Hoosiers play small-ball with a slew of athletic guys that can shoot, while the Boilermakers make it a point to pound it down low on almost every possession.
Indiana plays at another level at Assembly Hall and that’ll probably be the difference. But one of these Games the Boilermakers will pull out on the road. It wouldn’t be surprising if this was it due to their massive size advantage.
Score Prediction – Indiana 78 Purdue 77