Game: Illinois at #6 Purdue
Time: 7:00pm ET
Interesting Storyline: Two Purdue greats will play on Keady Court in Mackey Arena tonight for the last time. E`Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson have brought Purdue back as a winning program. They have done wonders for the fans and university. It will be sad tonight to see two of the Big Ten's greatest players play at home for the last time. Before Johnson and Moore got to Purdue along with Robbie Hummel, Purdue was just 16-40 over the two previous seasons. This class of stars got Purdue back on track. Tonight, Boiler Nation will come together and thank two of the greatest basketball players in Purdue history.
Point Spread: Illinois: +8.5 , Purdue: -8.5
( Below is our newest author's writing. Credit to Aaron.. [apy5000] )
The Bracket Situation: Both the Boilers and the Illini are pretty comfortable right now, but Illinois could be doing a lot better. Both Bracketology 101 and SB Nation’s own Blogging the Bracket have them as a 9 seed, which would make for a very tough road to the Sweet 16. A win at Mackey Arena would obviously help matters, but Purdue is undefeated there this year, including wins versus Wisconsin and Ohio State earlier this month. Victories like that have been good enough to raise the Boilers up to a 2 seed according to B101 and BtB, and with the Big Ten regular season title still available, there’s no doubt they’ll be hungry for this one. Buckle up.
Stats for Nerds
Illinois Offense Four Factors Purdue Offense Four Factors
Last Time: The stats show Purdue to have pretty big advantages in turnovers and free throw rate and when these two teams met on February 13, it was the Boilers winning the turnover battle 14-11 and taking 9 more free throw attempts. They also won the game 81-70, which was surprising because they shot 28.6% in the first half. Illinois allowed 54 second half points to make it comfortable for Purdue. Demetri McCamey was particularly miserable for the Illini, shooting 1/10 for only 4 points. Brandon Paul paced Illinois from the bench with 23 points on 6/14 from the field. Meanwhile, it was the usual suspects who struck for the ‘Makers. JaJuan Johnson had 24 points and 9 rebounds while E’twaun Moore scored half his points from the free throw line on his way to a total of 20.
Non-stars to watch: For the most part, the Illini are a perimeter-oriented team. Demetri McCamey, D.J. Richardson and Brandon Paul are all really good 3-point shooters. Even Mike Tisdale will let it rip when given some breathing room. The guy I’m most interested in, however, is Jereme Richmond. The 6’7" freshman is putting up 7.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game in 22.3 minutes. What makes his spot on this team so intriguing is that of the guys playing 20+ minutes per game on Illinois, Richmond will be the only low-post power type player that will be back next season. With Richardson, Paul and Bill Cole also coming back, the Illini will have plenty of perimeter firepower in 2011-12. It’s Richmond’s play that will determine how much scoring they get in the paint.
Purdue is another senior-laden team that will have lots of scoring to replace next season. For that reason, it’s good news that junior point guard Lewis Jackson has picked up his play this season and become a real offensive weapon. After scoring in double digits just once in the non-conference season (not counting the WVU game in the middle of Big Ten play), Jackson has scored at least 10 points in eight Big Ten games. He’s also got 5 assists per game in his last five games, which are all Boiler victories. With Moore and Johnson moving on after this season, Jackson will be a man to be counted on, much like McCamey is being counted on for the present day Illini.
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