Tonight's slate of games is decisively lighter than tomorrow's action, but Purdue and Iowa will both be hosting mid-majors tonight as we start to get closer to the end of the non-conference portion of the season. For Purdue, the Boilers will look to remain perfect after knocking off Pittsburgh and New Mexico last week. Also in action, Iowa looks to continue a three game winning streak that includes wins over Wichita State and Florida State.
Game of the Night: IUPUI at Purdue (7:00 PM ET | ESPNU)
Purdue remained undefeated this weekend as they held off New Mexico by 12 points, adding another nice win to their resume after knocking off Pittsburgh on the road. Now Purdue kicks off a three game stretch of mid-majors before seeing their schedule ramp up with Butler and Vanderbilt to close out the non-conference slate. Their opponent tonight is IUPUI, a 3-6 team from the Summit League ranked 260th in KenPom's ratings. The Jaguards did end a four game losing streak this weekend when they knocked off Miami (OH), but they also had a four game skid against teams like Kennesaw State and South Alabama.
Tonight could get ugly for the Jaguars as the team has struggled heavily on the offensive side of the ball. So far through nine games IUPUI has only hit on 41% of their field goals (281st), while only converting 32.8% from deep and committing over 15 turnovers a night. Now they head into Mackey to take on a Purdue team that is holding opponents to 33.1% from the field (2nd) and 25.7% from deep. Even more impressive is the Boilers are giving up only 57.6 points per game (9th) even though the team hasn't been forcing that many turnovers each night.
The tallest player that plays for the Jaguars also happens to be 6'8", putting the team at a decisive size disadvantage as Purdue will bring out A.J. Hammons, Isaac Haas and Caleb Swanigan. The teams frontcourt has been lights out so far this season, with Hammons and Haas both impressing while Caleb has shown plenty of promise. Mix in some solid performances from the point guard position, the versatility of Vince Edwards and a Boiler team that has been improved from outside...and you have a well balanced and deep roster that will be far too much for IUPUI to handle.
Western Illinois at Iowa (7:00 PM ET | BTN)
While Iowa dropped back to back games around Thanksgiving, the team has rebounded nicely with wins against Wichita State, Florida State and UMKC. Now the Hawkeyes will host Western Illinois of the Summit League. If that name sounds familiar, it's probably because the Leathernecks knocked off Wisconsin on the opening night of the season. Of course they haven't done much since, beating teams like Hannibal-LaGrange and Silverlake, while losing to Creighton by 30 points.
If Western Illinois wants to add another Big Ten upset to their resume, it'll have to rely on guards Garret Covington and J.C Fuller. So far the duo have averaged a combined 36.7 points per game while hitting 51.6% and 72.2% from deep (no that's not a typo, and it's not because of a lack of attempts, with Covington shooting 5.2 threes and Fuller shooting 3 threes per game). Even Jabari Sandifer is hitting 46.2% from deep (2.2 attempts per game), so expect plenty of perimeter shooting from a Leathernecks program that can score.
While Western Illinois can shoot, so can Iowa as they have averaged around 83 points an outing with another well balanced rotation. Leading the Hawkeyes is Jarrod Uthoff, who is scoring over 17 points per game and hitting over 44% of this threes. As a team the Hawkeyes are shooting almost 40% from deep and have one of the deepest rotations in the conference, providing them with plenty of depth and athleticism. Outside of their two games around Thanksgiving, Iowa has looked strong this season and are coming off of a 95 point performance. While they may need to score a lot to win here, Iowa's offense should definitely be up for the challenge.