Indiana has a winning record in the Big Ten, but that doesn’t mean anyone trusts this team. The Hoosiers have wins against the weaker teams in the Conference and were run off the cOurt in ones against Michigan and Michigan State. Of course, a lot of those results also came because of where the Game was. Indiana still hasn’t lost at home in Conference play and that’s where this one is. No matter where each of these teams is at, this is still a rivalry and tensions will be high. Some may say throw records out the door, but it’s hard to do that given that Purdue is scorching.
The Boilermakers are throttling teams for fun and even have huge road wins at Minnesota and Iowa so it’s not just at home. Those two results are reason enough to believe they can win big in this situation. Indiana may be at home, but there isn’t one area it has an advantage in. The biggest stat outlier is Indiana’s three-point defense, which ranks as one of the worst in the country allowing more than 38 percent. That’s not a great recipe going against Purdue, which is shooting more than 43 percent from deep on the season and a few points better than that in Conference play. Purdue’s efficiency behind the arc is unmatched and that’s not where the problems end for Indiana.
The Hoosiers will have no one to guard 7-foot-2 Isaac Haas and if they decide to double team him, that will only open up guys beyond the arc. Needless to say, it’s a bad situation for the home team. The Hoosiers recently had trouble stopping Michigan State’s bigs, but the one area it may have a chance in is if Juwan Morgan can do something on the offensive end. While he’s not a great shooter, he’s quicker and more active than Haas or Matt Haarms and that could open up the Indiana offense. If not, the Hoosiers will need huge Games from Robert Johnson and Josh Newkirk, which isn’t an easy thing to bet on. Both are solid players, but neither are that consistent and that’s seen in subpar shooting percentages, both less than 37 percent from deep.
Morgan is a better matchup for Purdue’s power forward, Vincent Edwards, but that’s not how Indiana is built. The Hoosiers could play some zone defense, but it’s hard to see that working against the best shooting team in the country. Carsen Edwards can beat any Indiana defender off the dribble, while Dakota Mathias does a little bit of everything. P.J. Thompson’s task will be to slow down everything Newkirk does and so far this season, that’s worked to great results.
But while all these numbers point to Purdue, Indiana has already shown it can stay competitive against the best offensive teams in the country, at one point leading Duke late in the second half. The problem comparing that Game with this is that big man De’Ron Davis, the logical player to guard Haas, is out for the season due to injury. The other issue is that Purdue ranks much better defensively than Duke.
The Hoosiers will need one of Johnson or Newkirk to catch fire, Morgan to be a factor offensively and someone like Collin Hartman or Zach McRoberts to do something positive. And that’s just to keep this Game competitive at home. While they could ride the crowd for parts of the Game, it’s hard to see Indiana stealing a win against this Purdue team unless it finally goes cold from deep. again, that’ll be really hard to bet against.
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