In the first meeting between Purdue and Minnesota a few weeks ago in Minneapolis, the Golden Gophers managed to pull an upset of the Boilermakers at Williams Arena. This time, the scene shifts to West Lafayette where the two teams will face off today at 1:00 P.M. on CBS.
Minnesota, (16-4, 5-3) has now won five of its last six games and four in a row. The first in that streak came against Purdue in the first meeting on Jan. 13. Aside from Ohio State, the Gophers might be the hottest team in the league at the moment, not only winning games, but taking them comfortably by an average of 7.25 points in the four game winning streak.
Purdue (17-4, 6-2) on the other hand, has hit a bit of a rough patch since the upset at the Barn. The Boilermakers have lost three of their last five games, including a crushing 87-64 set back in Columbus on Tuesday against Ohio State. E'Twaun Moore has been inconsistent and Purdue hasn't quite been getting the same step up performances from role players it was earlier in the season. Keys to the game after the jump.
When Minnesota Has The Ball
Blake Hoffarber was big for Minnesota in the first matchup, racking up 26 points on 4-6 shooting from 3-point territory. Purdue has make it tougher for him this time around with the home crowd behind it. The Boilermakers did a good job of containing Trevor Mbakwe's scoring production the first time around but undid a lot of that good by letting Hoffarber go nuts. Even things out a little bit, and the Gophers are more manageable.
- Purdue worked Minnesota on the boards in the last matchup on both ends of the floor. The offensive rebounding margin was 15-6 in favor of Minnesota, too. Obviously the Gophers need to do better at corralling rebounds in their own end, but they have to hit the offensive glass better, too.
When Purdue Has The Ball
- The Boilermakers only shot the ball at a 38% clip in Minneapolis. That should improve back at Mackey. In fact, in Purdue's last home game against Michigan State, the Boilers shot an eye popping 58%. Minnesota must make sure it weathers the storm to stay in the game.
- It'd be great news for Purdue if E'Twaun Moore stepped up in this game and left his signature on it. He's been floating along for the last couple weeks now, but JaJuan Johnson can't do the heavy lifting forever. Moore is a star but he's playing more Robin to Johnson's Batman right now. When Purdue is at its best, both of those guys are on equal footing.
These two teams played a pretty even game last time, and there's no reason to expect anything different this time around. In terms of the outcome, though, the home court advantage could be big for Purdue. The Boilers haven't lost at home yet, and save for the Penn State game, none of their home conference tests have really been that close, either. We'll see how much the atmosphere pays off for Purdue this time.