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What To Watch: Northwestern and Purdue Host Open Scrimmages

Two Big Ten teams will give fans and the media their first looks at the teams this afternoon.

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Fall Saturdays are usually about college football, but today's Saturday is a bit different with two Big Ten squads hosting scrimmages for their fans.  Since this will be the first chance to see the teams, these are both pretty noteworthy events.  Purdue will scrimmage at noon and Northwestern will scrimmage before their home football game.

Can Northwestern build off an exciting first year under Chris Collins?  Can Purdue get back into Big Ten contention as they were under the early years of Matt Painter?  As the Northwestern Wildcats and Purdue Boilermakers take the court, here are some things to watch.

Northwestern Wildcats

1. The Newcomers

This may not be the best recruiting class in Northwestern history, but there's no doubt that it's certainly right up there as one of the most exciting groups to hit campus in program history.  The players with the most hype surrounding them are Victor Law and Bryant McIntosh and for good reason.  Both players have the chance to contribute early and often.  This will be the first chance for fans to see whether this recruiting class can live up to the hype.

2. Has Alex Olah Taken The Next Step?

The Wildcats have several returners on their team this season, but I am not sure there is anyone that is more exciting than Alex Olah.  Sure, players like JerShon Cobb and Tre Demps have shown they can be productive players, but Olah may be the only one of this group that has the potential to truly get a breakout season, especially considering that the Big Ten is relatively thin upfront.  Has Olah taken that next step over the offseason?  This will be a key thing fans will want to check out this afternoon.

3. Who Will Shoot The Ball?

Last season, Northwestern was a bad shooting team and especially from outside the arch.  The Wildcats were #53 in attempts from 3PT range last season, but were just #323 in 3PT percentage.  This is a sign of inefficient shooting.  Part of this is indicative of a bad offense overall and not getting good looks for shooters, but another part was inconsistent shooting from JerShon Cobb and Tre Demps.  Can Northwestern be effective from outside and who could be a player that could break out?

Purdue Boilermakers

1. Can AJ Hammons Live Up To The Hype?

One of the most frustrating players for Purdue last season was AJ Hammons.  Despite being one of the most talented players in the conference, he was muddled with inconsistent play and could never take that next step necessary for the Boilermakers.  This year, with more roster turnover and another year to develop, fans are placing more expectations on the big man.  The question will be whether he can actually live up to this hype.  This might be a difficult thing to assess in a scrimmage, but if he is completely dominating, it would certainly be a good sign.

2. Can The Boilermakers Find A Point Guard?

With the departure of Ronnie Johnson, Purdue was left scrambling to find a point guard for next season.  They did add P.J. Thompson late, but there's no doubt that this will be a huge question mark for this year's team.  Johnson wasn't necessarily great player, but he was proven and had shown that he could be productive.  Now, the Boilermakers will have to find someone new to fill in.  Watching the minute rotations should be interesting here.

3. Is Vincent Edwards The Real Deal?

The Boilermakers are bringing in several exciting recruits this year, but many have targeted Vincent Edwards as the guy that could make an impact in year one.  Now that he is officially on campus, it will be interesting to see whether he really can take a shot at a starting role and be a difference maker.  If he can come in and be productive on the wing, it could be a sign of a good season for the Boilermakers.