TIME / TV: 7:00ET on ESPN
The timing of this game couldn't be better for Purdue.
The Boilermakers are undefeated at home this season, and look to maintain their spotless record against the Indiana Hoosiers. Purdue is coming off of a brutal stretch in which the Boilermakers went 0-4 on the road; losing to Minnesota by just 3 points, West Virginia by 4 points in a baffling game, top-ranked Ohio State in a blowout, and Wisconsin by 7 in the Kohl Center. Purdue balanced their losses by first foiling an upset bid from Penn State, pounding Minnesota by 12 points to split their season series, and handing Michigan State an 86-76 loss in Mackey.
Indiana, on the other hand, is in trouble. With Maurice Creek and Christian Watford injured, IU's offense has gone cold. The Hoosiers were swept by the Iowa Hawkeyes this past week in a wild 64-63 loss, in which the Hoosiers gave up a ten point lead. That was not the sort of effort that Tom Crean wanted or needed from his team, which had just pulled off a pair of home upsets over ranked opponents in Minnesota and Illinois (which both have fallen out of the rankings of late. Ouch).
Purdue, with All-American candidate JaJuan Johnson leading the team in points (averaging 20.9 per game) and rebounds (with an average of 7.6 per game), looks to win their fourth game in a row over the Hoosiers. The Boilermakers certainly have other offensive options, but their offense against Indiana likely will run through Johnson and G E`Twaun Moore, who will make his 126th career start for Purdue, a school-record. While not quite up to his form a year ago, Moore has still averaged 17.4 PPG to supplement Johnson. Lewis Jackson has been solid, chipping in almost 4 assists per game (3.9) and is 3rd on the team in PPG (averaging 6.8).
Verdell Jones III played against Iowa, and is likely to play against Purdue, but the key for the Hoosiers is how well he plays against the Boilermakers. Jones had all of 2 points on 1 of 9 shooting against the Hawkeyes, along with four fouls in a rather forgettable effort. With Jones ineffective as a shooter, Jordan Hulls picked up the slack, scoring 24 points on 10 of 17 shooting. Will Sheehey and Victor Oladipo chipped in 12 points each.
It's safe to say the Hoosiers will need all the offense they can get. Matt Painter's squad will almost certainly crash the boards, where Indiana has not been able to beat many teams. In their home loss to Iowa, Indiana was outrebounded 33-25. However, the Hoosiers tied Michigan State 36-36 and Wisconsin 26-26 in the rebounding battle, both road games the Hoosiers were extremely competitive in. If Indiana loses the rebounding battle as they did against Iowa, they're going to have to pray that Purdue can't capitalize offensively.
This is a rivalry, and more importantly, it's Indiana-Purdue, so nothing is truly out of the realm of possibility. Still, Purdue should have their way in this game as they are undefeated at home and haven't lost to the Hoosiers at home since 2006. With an upset, Indiana would snap a 23 game road losing streak to Top 25 teams.
Check out Purdue on SBNation at: www.hammerandrails.com; and Indiana at www.crimsonquarry.com