The Big Ten is as deep as it’s been in awhile and Indiana is finding that out the hard way, having lost three straight with back-to-back road Games up next. Purdue had its own issues in non-Conference play, but due to a little Schedule luck, has won five of its last six Games. This rivalry is probably more important for Indiana to break its losing skid, but the most important thing to do in Conference play is to not lose at home.
Indiana just did that in a brutal 66-51 loss to Nebraska and has to hit the reset button after that result. The problem is that Purdue has one of the best home cOurts in the country and still hasn’t lost at MACkey Arena this season. This matchup could come down to if Indiana can make threes or not as Purdue ranks as the worst in the Big Ten in three-point defense and allows 37.3% from distance for the season. That isn’t an area Indiana excels in and that’s why it makes sense to make the Boilermakers.
Romeo LAngford (18.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg) is one of the best freshman in the country, yet doesn’t shoot well. Most of his points come from driving and attacking the basket, and while that’s fine, that can only take you so far in road Games when no one else on the team can shoot. Juwan Morgan (16.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg) will get his buckets, but Indiana can’t count on anyone else to Scoreeven with Rob Phinisee back in the lineup. No one else averages more than 8.5 points per Game and none of them are consistent. Devonte Green has some decent Games, but managed only three points in the loss to Nebraska.
That’s kind of been the case for Purdue, but its best players can actually shoot between Carsen Edwards (24.9 ppg) and Ryan Cline (12.6 ppg). Both love to chuck it up from deep and the Boilers have the bigs in the middle to gather up misses. The biggest talking point for Purdue has been the play of freshman Trevion Williams, who is averaging a double double in the last three Games while being at just 5.1 points and 3.9 boards for the season. With an effective big man down low, the Boilers offense has turned a corner and that’s why they recently won at Wisconsin.
And while Purdue will likely throw Nojel Eastern onto LAngford, Indiana may not have the guy to mark Edwards, whether that’s Phinisee, Green or Aljami Durham. If none of those guys can stop Edwards, Purdue will immediately have a leg up. As for stopping Morgan, Matt Haarms and Williams present two different kinds of challenges.
To steal a win at MACkey, Indiana either needs 30 points from LAngford, or some of its role players to step up. That’s been hard to rely on as of late and that’s why the Hoosiers have lost three straight. As a positive, Indiana led the entire first half at Maryland and stayed somewhat competitive in the loss at Michigan after going down early. On the other side of that, Purdue barely beat Maryland in its most difficult home Game this season. This will be billed as LAngford against Edwards, but it’s the other players (and shooters) that will make the difference in the result.
Our Pick – Purdue -7