With nine regular season games remaining, Indiana looks to strengthen their resume and punch their ticket for the NCAA Tournament. They have been struggling to gain a firm footing into the tournament and have oscillated between 6-11 seeds depending on their latest wins.
Now, Indiana comes home for two games that they need to win and for their first game in two weeks to face in-state rival Purdue. Indiana has not been successful in its last six games playing Purdue and their last victory came February 20th, 2016 under head coach Tom Crean and led by Yogi Ferrell and Troy Williams.
The Indiana-Purdue game is the highest rated Saturday game on the College Basketball Power Index with a matchup quality of 93.3. Also, the second-biggest bubble game left this season next to VCU at Richmond on February 15th. However, Purdue is predicted win win with a 54.8% likelihood despite their 13-10 record. Also, Purdue has a much better predicted chance to make the Tournament than Indiana based on the BPI. With a win Saturday, Indiana has a 71% chance of making the Tournament but only 52% with a loss. On the flipside, Kenpom projects Indiana to pull the victory with 53% likelihood.
How to Watch
|Who||Purdue Boilermakers at Indiana Hoosiers|
|When||Saturday Feb. 8, 2020 2:00 p.m. ET|
|Where||Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall — Bloomington, Ind.|
|Tickets||Find the Lowest Tickets on SeatGeek|
|Listen||IU Sports Network|
Getting to know the Boilermakers
Overall, Purdue is ranked No. 16 by Kenpom and sport an impressive 52nd place in their offense and 14th for their defense. They are by far the highest ranked team with over ten losses on the season, Minnesota being the second team at No. 32.
Purdue sports a 13-10 record overall and have a better conference record than Indiana at 6-6 currently. They are coming off of one of their biggest wins of the season with a 104-68 beatdown of No. 17 Iowa at home. Purdue made quick work of Iowa playing perfect basketball and starting out on a 17-2 run and did not slow down.
Senior forward Evan Boudreaux led the Boilermakers with a season high 18 points and another four players reached double figures in their rout. This was first time this season that they scored north of 100 with their biggest win prior being against overmatched Central Michigan 97-62.
Besides Boudreaux, Trevion Williams is the team’s dynamic sophomore standout. He leads the team with a 11.2 points and 7.4 rebounds per game and shooting 56.9%. They only have two players scoring over 10 ppg, Williams and Hunter Jr., but have five players scoring over 9 ppg which is more than Indiana.
Also, Matt Haarms has been instrumental to the success for the Boilermakers. His playtime has been scaled back in Big Ten play and he has not reached 20 minutes of playtime since facing Illinois on January 21. Despite this, he has been able to reach double digit scoring two of the four last games and has been adding key rebounds and blocks.
Sustained success on the court has been a struggle for Purdue and Indiana this season. The Boilermakers have two lopsided losses to Illinois and another home loss to Texas along with losing to Florida State who the Hoosiers beat earlier this season.
Similar to Indiana, Purdue faithful now claim Purdue is back after a single solid victory at home. The Boilermakers have struggled with their consistency losing to Rutgers and barely beating Northwestern, the worst team in the Big Ten. However, the biggest concern for Indiana is Purdue’s consistency against Indiana. The Hoosiers have lost their last six games against the Boilermakers including both home and away games over this streak.
We can expect Purdue to once again play with the fire and passion they did against Iowa as they and Indiana are looking to capitalize on the opportunity and secure a spot in the tournament.
Projected Starting Lineups
|Indiana Hoosiers||Purdue Boilermakers|
|G: #1 Al Durham (Jr.)||G: #12 Evan Boudreaux (Sr.)|
|G: #10 Rob Phinisee (So.)||G: #55 Sasha Stefanovic (So.)|
|F: #3 Justin Smith (Jr.)||G: #2 Eric Hunter Jr. (So.)|
|F: #4 Trayce Jackson-Davis (Fr.)||F: #50 Trevion Williams (So.)|
|C: #50 Joey Brunk (RS Jr.)||F: #20 Nojel Eastern (Jr.)|
What to Watch for
1. Reaching the charity stripe
One very contrasting points between Indiana and Purdue is their desire to get FTs. Indiana has relied heavily on FTs in their past success and reached the line for 24.0 attempts per game so far this season over Purdue’s 14.7 attempts per game.
However, Indiana only had 12.7 to Purdue’s 10.0 over the last three games so the advantage has been leveled out considerably. Additionally, Indiana has not been as productive offensively which likely is attributable to this difference. Reaching the line is essential for Indiana to reach their prior level of success.
Indiana has now three more games against ranked teams and five home games for their regular season. There is no off night or easy win for the teams in the Big Ten, but it should be easier to be successful with more home than away games on the season. Yet, each of their remaining games are against teams that are projected to be in the Tournament.
The true sixth man for Indiana, the crowd, needs to be in the game early and in full force to give Indiana the edge it needs to win in this evenly matched game. Expect it to get testy and fierce early and the momentum to be constantly shifting, but the crowd needs to be in it the whole time.
3. Ball Security to Secure the Victory
Indiana has needed improvement in its ball security and now lie near the bottom of Division I with a -0.8 turnover ratio compared to Purdue’s +2.7.
A lot of this stems from consistent guard play to be spearheaded by Al Durham and Devonte Green. Each average nearly 2 turnovers per game and just north of 2 assists per game. Expect much of the success for the rest of the season to be contingent on the play of the more senior players on the team to help set up players down low such as Trayce Jackson-Davis and Joey Brunk to get easy baskets and more free throw attempts.
4. Mid-Season Holiday Break
Indiana once held a record of 15-4 overall and a 5-3 Big Ten record and now have fallen to a 15-7 overall, 5-6 conference record. All three of these last games were losses and have come in glaring, but different ways.
For Maryland, Indiana couldn’t close the game and lost their lead at the end. Against Penn State, the backcourt did not see much success. And against Ohio State, the down low, inside game did not find its groove and scored only 18 points the entire game. However, the Hoosiers shot 7-12 from three, which is uncharacteristically positive for their team.
Archie attributed the loss to Ohio State to be due to a lack of physicality of the team especially in protecting the glass. The week off from traveling and games should help them recover before their game against Purdue this weekend.
Featured Photo: Purdue Sports