If you read my preseason post, you know that I predicted this could be a game that the Boilers lose. Not because I'm buying into ESPN's Big East is better than all forever mentality, but because Painter teams tend to struggle on neutral courts, not to mention the Boilers are one of the youngest teams in basketball.
Here is what Nova brings to the table, other than the ESPN east coast attitude.
They have a great freshman guard in Ryan Arcidiacona. Arcidiacona has more to hope for than just a chance at the strangest name in college basketball this season. He is averaging 18 points and 5 assists this season. It does seem as though he might have trouble with turning over the ball... sound familiar?
Arcidiacona will be a good match-up for the Boilermakers. His youth might get the best of him, but if not contained he could drop a load on the Boilers. [Uhhh, do what, now? -Ed.]
James Bell is another guy that could give the Boilers some trouble. Bell is a taller guard at 6-6, not quite Kelsey Barlow lanky, but this guy can shoot the rock. This season he is averaging 14 points per game and is shooting 43 percent from the field.
Bell's size could cause some issues for Purdue with the lack of size at the guard position, but Terone or Byrd should be able to contain him.
If you take a glance at their roster on ESPN, they are freakishly similar to our team right now -- young and in rebuilding mode.
The weakest part about this squad has to be the big men. During their last game they played JayVaughn Pinkston at forward along with Mouphatao Yarou and Maurice Sutton at the center spot. These guys are not huge by any means. In fact, dare I say it, Purdue might actually have the size advantage in this game. Shocker, I know.
Sutton is the one I'm most concerned about in this one. He is a senior with plenty of experience. Being a role player his first three years, he's now expected to jump up and provide some very productive scoring.
This team is a squad that is going to grow each game, very similar to Purdue, they are still searching for an identity and are hoping to find it in the Big Apple.
I have to believe this is going to be a very close game. It's time to see what the freshman can really do in crunch time. It will be their first chance to really play on the national stage. Also this will be the first chance for some of you who haven't been to Mackey to see these guys play.
I think Purdue wins this game. It will be close throughout, but if the Boilermakers can finally get in a rhythm they will pull this one out. I'm not sure if Byrd will be as productive as he is expected to be yet, but I think the game will depend on him and Terone.
Purdue 78 Nova 73