Northern Kentucky (0-0, 0-0) at Purdue (0-0, 0-0)
7:00 PM EST
Series Record: First Meeting
Last Meeting: n/a
Blog Representation: Hammer and Rails
Purdue's 2012-13 season was disappointing to say the least and the team is looking forward to starting off clean tonight versus Northern Kentucky. Northern Kentucky is a recent addition to Division 1 college basketball, with last season's 11-16 season in the Atlantic Sun being their first at this level. The Norse struggled mightily from the field, even worse than Purdue, and scored more than 70 points only once (versus North Florida). The Norse dodge a bullet by not having to deal with Purdue center A.J. Hammons, who is suspended for the opener, but should be overmatched across the board. This of course looks to be even truer down low, as the Norse's biggest player measures in at 6'7. If Jay Simpson wants an easy tune-up to get going this season this will be the game for the 6'10 power forward to do so.
Last season the Boilermakers had to face a pesky Bucknell team without Terone Johnson and their offense looked sluggish on it's way to a season opening loss. That shouldn't happen this year, but the Boilers did struggle a bit out of conference last season, even versus inferior opponents. If Purdue wants to turn the corner the team will have to take care of business and if they struggle at all with the Norse it could be a potential warning sign. Also, there is absolutely no reason the Boilers should lose the rebounding battle here, even without Hammons.
The non-conference slate for Purdue will be very important and this should help kick start the offense. Last season Purdue suffered to many bad losses to overcome and what was a decent conference resume was foiled by an atrocious start to the season. If Purdue wants to return to the NCAA Tournament they will have to be nearly flawless in the opening months of the season. Also, with so many possible line-ups and a slew of new players making up the Boilermakers roster, Painter will likely utilize these games to see what works best. It should also be worth noting that Kendall Stephens and Sterling Carter deserve quite a bit of attention, as their success from the perimeter will have a major impact on Purdue's success come Big Ten play.