Purdue at Iowa: Boilers Looking to Win Eighth Straight, Hawkeyes Looking to End Regular Season on a High Note

Freshman Melsahn Basabe hopes to have a huge game on Iowa's Senior Day. Basabe also acknowledges that the previous sentence is fairly oxymoronic. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Gametime:  4:00 ET - - - - TV:  ESPN

It's the month of March once again, and the Purdue Boilermakers have made a pretty good case for a 2-seed, and possibly even a 1-seed, in the NCAA Tournament  up to this point. What's surprising to many people isn't that the Boilers have been the second best team in the Big Ten this season (behind top-ranked Ohio State), it's that they have managed to do so without the help of All-American forward Robbie Hummel, who as we all know re-tore his ACL before the start of the season. 

Despite Hummel's season-ending injury, Purdue has so far posted a record of 25-5 (14-3 in conference play) behind the solid play of their other superstar seniors, JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore, a cast of colorful-yet-reliable role players, and Matt Painter, who should be one of the frontrunners for Big Ten and National Coach of the Year.

With all of the 'what-if's and 'should-have-been's cast aside, Purdue looks like a solid choice to make the second weekend of the tourney, but they'll have to take care of business in the waning days of the Big Ten season if they want to make a case for one of the four one-seeds available. That task starts today against an Iowa team looking to end a disappointing season on a high note. 

Iowa (10-19, 3-14 Big Ten) has the same conference record as Purdue (if you switch the W-L column), and has lost six games in a row since their only conference winning streak of the season with wins against Michigan State and Indiana. Outside of their unlikely pummeling of the Spartans, Iowa's only conference wins are a sweep of their fellow Big Ten cellar-dweller, Indiana. With no sign of staggering improvement in sight, nothing would make the Iowa faithful happier than an upset of the #6 Boilermakers... other than an improbable run to that auto-bid in the Big Ten tourney, of course. 

Stat Breakdown (Fixed!)

 

 

  • I know Charlie Sheen has recently seized the monopoly on manly adjectives, but JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore have been playing with some combination of Adonis DNA and Tigerblood for the whole season. For the Boilers' current seven game winning-streak, here are their combined averages: 41.3 PPG (50% FG), 13.9 RPG, 3.6 APG, 1.9 SPG, 3.7 BPG. The rest of the team is incredibly important to the success of the team, but it's going to take consistently good performances from both Moore and Johnson if Purdue wants to get to Houston.
  • Outside of the two main guys for Purdue, Lewis Jackson has been having a very nice stretch of games as well. For the last seven games, Jackson has been averaging a nice 11.3 points, 4.1 assists, and 3.3 rebounds since the Boilermakers' loss to Wisconsin. If he can keep it up come tournament time, then Purdue becomes a lot harder to beat.
  • I, for one, am a firm believer in Senior Day Magic, and if Jarryd Cole can play above his 7 PPG and 6 RPG and contain Johnson (with the help of Melsahn Basabe, of course), maybe Iowa can make this thing interesting. That's a big maybe, and it would require above-average play from more than just the starting big guys, but you never know.

 

 

Purdue

 Opp.

Iowa

Opp.

Pace (# of Possessions)

66.9

Points Per Possession

1.11

0.92

1.00

1.01

Points Per Minute

1.83

1.51

1.68

1.71

Points Per Shot

1.28

1.12

1.20

1.22

2-PT FG%

49.0%

44.6%

49%

50.5%

3-PT FG%

37.9%

32.2%

31.2%

33.8%

FT%

72.0%

N/A

67.4%

N/A

True Shooting%

55%

49%

51.6%

53.8%

 

 

 

 

 

Assists Per Game

16.1

12.1

13.7

15.2

Steals Per Game

6.3

6

6.8

6.8

Turnovers Per Game

10.7

14.6

14.5

14.6

Ball Control Index (BCI)

(Assists + Steals/ TOVs)

2.09

1.24

1.41

1.51

 

 

 

 

 

Total Rebs Per Game

35.3

33

34.7

33.3

Offensive Rebs Per Game

11.2

10.4

11.9

10.7

 

  • On the offensive side of the numbers, Iowa and Purdue are fairly close in a few areas, notably PPP, PPS, and 2-PT%, the latter in which both teams are currently at 49% on the season. Outside of those areas, Purdue has noticeable advantages in 3-PT%, FT%, and the general ball control stats; Purdue handles the ball fairly well, Iowa generally turns the ball over too much.
  • The real difference in the numbers is on defense. Purdue ranks in the top 100-50 of most defensive stats (per Kenpom), while Iowa's defensive numbers rank anywhere from 60th (Adj. Efficiency Defense) to 278th (Opp. 2-PT%).

Ken Pomeroy Stats

Purdue Offense vs Iowa Defense Ranks

 

Purdue Offense

Iowa Defense

Advantage

Efficiency

12

60

Purdue

Effective FG%

71

238

Purdue Big

Turnover %

7

74

Purdue

Off. Reb. %

147

184

Purdue

FTA/FGA

247

18

Iowa Big

Iowa Offense vs Purdue Defense Ranks

 

Iowa Offense

Purdue Defense

Advantage

Efficiency

136

3

Purdue Big

Effective FG%

208

38

Purdue Big

Turnover %

257

68

Purdue Big

Off. Reb %

91

77

Purdue

FTA/FGA

257

40

Purdue Big

  • I vaguely mentioned it above, but Purdue's biggest advantage against Iowa as a whole is on defense. If Iowa wants to think of even competing with the Boilermakers, they'll have to bring their A++ game on offense, and that means shooting at a higher percentage, not turning the ball over, and getting to the free throw line at a higher rate. 

Final Verdict

With BYU losing both Brandon Davies and their subsequent game against New Mexico, Purdue has a puncher's chance at one of the final one-seeds in the tourney. This would require Kansas, Pittsburgh, or Duke getting upset in their respective conference tournaments as well as a deep Big Ten Tournament run by the Boilermakers, but first Purdue will have to take care of business against the Hawkeyes. It shouldn't be too hard of a test for Purdue, but you can never really know. Iowa could come out guns a'blazing and effectively dash Purdue's one-seed dreams in 40 minutes. The Boilers had better stay focused on the task in front of them, and I believe they will do just that. Pomeroy predicts a 73-62 Purdue win. Dominate the defensive side of the ball and play smart and efficient on the offensive end and Purdue should wrap up the regular season at 26-5. 

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