BASKETBALL PREDICTO SPECIAL: Purdue vs IU
Purdue plays the #22-ranked Hoosiers in Mackey Arena on Wednesday night (9PM on BTN). It’s somewhat of a crossroads game for both teams, and it’s kind of a rivalry, so you know what that means… WE’RE BRINGING THE PREDICTO BACK, BABY.
LET’S DO THIS THING.
On previous episodes of IU/Purdue – Electric Boogaloo:
LET’S. GET. THIS. SHOW. ON. THE. ROAD.
“The Savant” zboilersfan
Just when you thought the Crean Machine had rolled through about four or five too many oversignings, leaving the cupboard vulnerable to a key injury, The Forehead pulled a 6'6" "center" out of his hat, earning Indiana a couple of key home wins, against Ohio State and Maryland. (Odd, isn't it, that Maryland quickly became a contender?) IU's home-heavy schedule has failed to produce a significant road win, though, and with Maryland and Wisconsin remaining in that category, Indiana will likely fall short of a regular-season Big Ten title. While a failure to win a conference crown for the second consecutive season will no doubt have some Bloomington fans calling for Crean's dismissal, of greater interest is the upcoming game in Mackey Arena, which, as some sharp folks may have noticed, will also be a road game for Indiana.
Even with Mosquera-Perea in the lineup, Crean's squad was very similar to Kevin Wilson's football team (when it had a healthy QB): solid on offense and terrible on defense. With the shorter Hartman in for the 6'9" hyphen, Indiana's block rate has gone from bad to worse at both ends, which is great news for the Great Wall of Hammons. (Also for Isaac "Chef" Haas, who can block a shot of three if you let him.) Better yet, Purdue's defense turned up at the local UPS building, no doubt overlooked in the Christmas rush, and after being promptly delivered to Coach Painter, the Boilers have done a much better job at that end of the court, getting their two-point defense down to nearly six points below the DI average and using laser cat eyes to cause opponents to hit about DI-average from three-point range.
For Purdue to hold serve against the 7th-ranked offense in the country, those figures will have to remain as low as Purdue's tourney hopes. You can't swing a stick in Assembly Hall without hitting a guy with an ORtg of 110 or above (although if you tried, I wouldn't hold you accountable); unless the guy with the ball is Stanford Robinson, who's inexplicably taking his fair share of shots despite being far and away the worst offensive player on the team (at 82.9 and an eFG% of 32.8, every shot he takes is a win for Purdue), the Good Guys will have to defend closely and accurately. The two guys with the most trips to the line, Ferrell and Blackmon, are shooting .880 and .870 respectively. I know we've all forgotten that free throws can be shot like that, so trust me, those are good numbers; try not to foul them dudes, Boilers.
If you were to tell me that a seven-foot NBA prospect was going to play a team with no post defense - and really, not much defense, period - I'd be projecting a 30/20 game for him. I'd be a fool in this case, though. The one time AJ scored 30, against this very opponent his freshman year, he got a whopping 5 rebounds ... and the game was a miserable loss, anyway, so let's pretend that never happened. Even his 18/16 effort against an undersized and unbeaten OSU team in 2013 is far short of those amazing numbers I wish I could project. (Not that it should be dismissed. 18 and 16 in 33 minutes is a solid effort.) The problem is that unless Super AJ appears Wednesday night and does post numbers like that, I don't think this Purdue team can pull out a W. Purdue will slow the game down, cooling off Indiana's fast-paced offense a bit (we hope), but they've got to score, too. Bad defense isn't the same as no defense. With Kendall Stephens scoreless since New England decided that rules are for losers, someone else will have to step up and go toe-to-toe with Indiana's marksmen. Rapheal Davis did it against Iowa ... but I'm afraid it's not going to happen Wednesday.
Michael “TheRailroadTie” “Hank” “Podcast Legend” “That Dude” Henry
It should be very clear to even the most inobservant viewer that the Purdue-IU game Wednesday represents the ultimate mis-match of styles. The first thing when you think about when you think about Purdue is size. 7' AJ Hammons and 7'2'' Isaac Haas make up one of the tallest front-courts in college basketball. Not many teams can match up to Purdue size-for-size, but IU is especially at a disadvantage. Their front-court is a mess, but credit is due Tom Crean for making lemonade out of that collection of moldy lemons. Crean knows what his team's strength his, and that lies in their back-court, probably the best in the Big 10, and one of the best in the nation. Yogi Ferrell is one of the best point guards in the Big 10, and although he can get a bit reckless at times, he's still the steadying force that this young Hoosiers team needs. James Blackmon Jr is as pure a shooter as they come, talented enough to start for any program in the country. And although he has had his freshman moments, if he gets hot, he's pretty much unstoppable. Finally, Troy Williams rounds out the top-three for IU. This uber-athlete joins Victor Oladipo as one of those guys who arrives on campus a superior athlete and little else, but who has worked his tail off to become a very good basketball player. As much crap as I like to Tom Crean, he's done a phenomenal job this year with a team that was rife with injuries, suspensions, off-the-court distraction; a team that was thought to be too young, too inexperienced, and too small to make any real noise. IU is a legit NCAA Tournament team, and have continued to get better (road loss to Ohio State notwithstanding).
tl;dr - IU is much better than many suspected, and a dangerous match-up for what has been an inconsistent Purdue squad. But it all boils down to who will be able to assert their will against their opponent? And as a secondary question, how will Purdue defend IU's big three? Octeus will draw Yogi (a match-up I like), and Ray D will probably match up against JBJ (I like how Ray is trending defensively), but who will defend Williams? Probably Vince Edwards to start, and maybe Smotherman to match Williams' athleticism? That feels like a match-up that could work in IU's favor, and it could be enough to swing the game.
If Purdue can get their big guys rolling early, and can prevent IU from getting out and running and hitting their threes, things bode well for the Boilermakers. Otherwise, it could be a long evening for Purdue. I'll give Purdue the edge in this one, given that it's at Mackey, and say the Boilers get the win, 72-71.
Aneesh “GIFmeister” the Swamy
I’ll echo a lot of what zboilersfan and Mike said, emphasizing IU’s stupid good three point percentage. The Hoosiers are shooting 41% from beyond the arc on the season, and that number jumps to 53% if you only look their last three games.
Purdue allows just about 17 three-point attempts per game, at a 36.7% rate. These numbers are actually considerably better than the perception of Purdue’s three point defense, and recent play has shown an improvement at running players off the three point line. But IU presents with a significant challenge, especially on the wings.
I agree with Michael: the defensive keys to the game rest in Jon Octeus and Ray Davis’ hands. Octeus will undoubtedly draw Yogi Ferrell, who would be a projected lottery pick if he was 3 inches taller. Ferrell’s game has matured a lot since last year, finally stepping into the role many Hoosier fans wanted to see two years ago as the third-best player in the B10 (behind Frank Kaminsky and D’Angelo Russell). More than his ballhandling skills, or passing talent, or his recent hot-shooting streak (13-19 from beyond the arc in their last two games), what really stands out is his sense of calm while running the offense. But…he’s listed generously at 6 feet tall, and Octeus will be able to match his speed and has a legitimate size advantage. I love his changes to slow Ferrell in Mackey.
The other dangerous wing is James Blackmon Jr., who is vying with Russell and Maryland’s Melo Trimble for best freshman in the B10. While his star has faded slightly since the start of conference play, I definitely think he’ll get the full Ray Davis treatment; Davis will probably sacrifice some offensive energy and give everything he has to making JBJ’s life miserable. Just…don’t let Collin Hartman get hot. I’m looking at you, Stephens and Smotherman. Work to force IU inside, and let the bigs get vertical and stop them at the basket. Slowing JBJ and Ferrell makes IU beatable, and (in theory) Purdue has the pieces to do it.
You get the idea why Matt Painter said this was a matchup of extremes, especially considering Purdue’s size advantage inside. Offensively, Matty needs thebigs to play smart. Crean knows IU doesn’t have size, so they’ll probably present with either a matchup zone or send an extra defender to crash on AJ/Isaac the second they get the ball. They both need to be decisive: spot the open man if IU’s rotations are off, or go strong to the basket without hesitation.
Purdue’s three point shooting is also slightly concerning. A healthy Kendall Stephens would have me much more comfortable projecting a win, but in his current state you don’t know which Kid we’ll see. Mathias and Vince Edwards will need to step up in this regard…even though Purdue can stop IU from slinging threes, I have a feeling the Boilers will need to play keep-up for a good portion of this game.
I also get the feeling that Isaac could be absurdly dominant against IU’s minimal front line (Hanner Mosquera-Perea is their tallest player at 6’9”). IU’s weaknesses play directly to his strengths, especially when we’ve seen his offensive Ent game. If Isaac is strong, and Kendall and Dakota hit their stride from outside, this could be a HUGE mismatch-fueled home court win for the good guys.
Purdue – 81
IU – 74
(By the way…Robert Johnson –IU’s basketball player, not the dead blues legend-- injured his knee while slipping on an OSU cheerleader’s sign and is questionable for the Purdue game. Even though it would be easy to slip in a quick joke, this highlights by biggest basketball pet peeve: MOVE THE PHOTOGRAPHERS AND CHEERLEADERS AND SEATS AWAY FROM THE FREAKING BASKETBALL COURT. Players could get severely hurt tripping on sideline equipment. Trust me. I’m a Pacers fan.
We miss you, Paul George.)
Take advantage, young Boilers...in my opinion, you'll get one shot to beat the Hoosiers this season.
I know, I know, the B1G got it right with its schedule this season and has Purdue playing the evil Hoosiers at least twice this season, but beating IU at Ass Hall is a near impossibility, so I've already moved on. Phantom fouls will haunt Purdue's bigs (including RayDay) in Bloomington, so winning with defense will be difficult...but it's a real possibility on Wednesday.
IU simply has no answer for Purdue's 14-plus feet of two headed center...and Purdue will take advantage offensively. On defense, Purdue's three point defense will obviously define their success in this contest...and I like Davis, Edwards, Stephens and Octeus' length in their match-ups...the rub for the good guys comes when the bench takes the controls.
Mathias, while sound on offense of late, will struggle with IU's ball movement as the Forehead's squad looks to set up the deep ball. And if Octeus has any reason not to play, Scott and Thompson will force you to hide your childrens' eyes from the carnage as Ferrell will use his savvy and skill to carve up these two underexperienced Boilers.
So the equation is simple- if the rotation patterns are tight, Purdue wins, if not, Clappy's squad wins.
Purdue's shown that it can close out on three point shooters at times this season...at others it's allowed opponents to rain hell fire down on their collective head...if it's a high scoring game, Purdue loses.
My heart says Purdue will protect Keady Court...my head and memory tell me something different. Prove me wrong, Boilers and begin to salvage the season on a number of levels.
Striped Pants 78
Forces of Good 72
J (featuring Winter Storm Juno)
Which Purdue will show? Will it be the one that takes care of the ball, has energy at both ends of the floor, and rotates in a way to make us smile? Or will it be the sluggish-looking, absent-for-a-half team that looks like perhaps it's afraid of getting berated? Will Purdue's big men feast on the undersized Hoosiers? Or will they get into their frequent foul trouble or simply not be "mean" enough to get the positioning needed to accept passes in the post?
Like my colleagues, I know Purdue winning this game is more than possible. Also like them, though, I have a gnawing concern about Purdue playing up to this level.
The Boilers failed to take the Illinois game, which was right there for them...and would have them at 5-2, same record as the stripers. Of course, one could argue they stole away the PSU game so perhaps they're right where they should be.
A win will feel like the corner is being turned a bit and will do wonders for confidence heading into February. A loss continues the maddening cycle of inconsistency.