With Saturday's major matchup between the Indiana Hoosiers and Purdue Boilermakers, it seemed like a good time to bring BTPowerhouse's writers together and get their thoughts heading into the game. It's certainly a huge game for both sides and could shape each's Big Ten title and NCAA Tournament chances.
Check out the discussion below.
1. What Are Your General Thoughts On This Matchup and What Does It Mean Going Forward?
-Thomas Beindit: Obviously, there's going to be a lot on the line on Saturday night between the Big Ten's two biggest rivals on the court. Both teams are in contention for the Big Ten title and a serious NCAA Tournament run, so from a general sense, there's a lot riding on this one. Of course, what fans are really going to care about is whether their team can beat their rival on Saturday night. Purdue has won the last few matchups, so the pressure is on Indiana.
-Jerome Scherwin Jr.: This game has to mean the world for the Hoosiers. Not only is it their hated in-state rival, but it's also an important game to keep them in the hunt for the Big Ten regular season title. It's a must win game that the Iowa Hawkeyes (who as of this writing have sole possession of first place) will be watching from their couches as they take a week off before hosting Wisconsin. If Indiana wants to once again control their own destiny going into their matchup against those rested Hawkeyes in Iowa City on March 1, they better first knock off Purdue.
-Noah Morris: This game has been circled on both teams calendars since they released the schedules. Don't think for a second that the Hoosiers don't remember getting beat twice by essentially this same Purdue team just a year ago. The in-state kids that play in this rivalry are what makes it all the better, guys like A.J Hammons and Raphael Davis for Purdue and guys like Yogi Ferrell at Indiana who grew up around the rivalry and now gone to their schools to continue the storied legacy this rivalry presents.
If Indiana wants to have any hope at all of winning the Big Ten championship by themselves, they absolutely have to win this game. Purdue is no longer playing for a Big Ten regular season title, rather trying to position themselves in the Big Ten tournament and pick up more quality wins on their way to Selection Sunday.
-Andrew Holmes: If you don't think this is the biggest rivalry in the Big Ten, you're wrong. The fact this is the only scheduled game between the Hoosiers and the Boilermakers is an embarrassment to the conference. I'm extremely biased, but nothing compares to the atmosphere this matchup generates every year. In Indiana there isn't much that matters more than basketball, and these are the two biggest schools in the state. Forget about all of the NCAA Tournament seeding implications and the fact that IU is still within striking distance of the Big Ten title, because the players, coaches, and fans won't be thinking about any of that until after this game is over. This game is for a year's worth of bragging rights, and you can bet these teams are going to play like nothing else matters.
-Marco Knudsen: Now that Indiana is atop the Big Ten standings, this will be a very telling game for the Hoosiers if they will control their own destiny. Purdue is looking to continue their winning ways against the Hoosiers, as they took care of business twice against Indiana last year. Andrew hit the nail on the head. This is a matchup of the two biggest college basketball programs in the state. Having the bragging rights over a rival is pivotal in terms of recruiting and the momentum of a program, and Indiana head coach Tom Crean will need this one if he hopes to regain momentum.
2. What's The Matchup To Watch When Indiana and Purdue Tip-Off?
-Thomas Beindit: The matchup I'm particularly interested to watch will be on the wing. I think who can come out on top there will ultimately decide who wins this one. Indiana will be looking for big performances from OG Anunoby, Max Bielfeldt and Troy Williams and Purdue will look to Vince Edwards and Caleb Swanigan for big games. Indiana's going to win the backcourt and Purdue will win upfront, but who wins here?
-Jerome Scherwin Jr.: I'll be watching Thomas Bryant, who has catapulted himself into the energetic leader of this Hoosiers team duke it out down low with A.J. Hammons. What's better than watching two giants that are integral parts of their individual offense go at one another in the trenches? Absolutely nothing...I just ask that the #BigTenRefs let the big boys play. Don't ruin this for us by calling ticky-tack fouls. Let the boys rumble!
-Noah Morris: It's the textbook story with Indiana and Purdue of late. Purdue has all the big guys in the world and struggles with their perimeter offense. Indiana has perimeter offense that terrifies the opposition and Thomas Bryant is becoming better and better for them in the post, but they still lack the post presence that Purdue has with Hammons, Haas and Swanigan (who doesn't lack that skyline?).
Needless to say, I'm watching how Thomas Bryant handles A.J. Hammons down low and whether he can score on Hammons on the other end. Purdue's frontline does nightmares to the opposing team in terms of foul trouble, however, and Bryant has struggled this year as many freshman do in terms of getting in foul trouble. If he goes out, who steps in to guard those big boys?
-Andrew Holmes: Is it cheating to say Matt Painter versus Tom Crean? These two teams have players that matchup in very interesting ways. Against Michigan State, Crean started both Max Bielfeldt and Thomas Bryant, will he use that lineup to bring more size on defense when Caleb Swanigan is in the game? Or will he go with Collin Hartman and Troy Williams at the 3 and 4 to force Biggie to guard more athletic and perimeter-oriented guys? Will Painter go with Swanigan at the 5 for a smaller lineup at any point? Would he dare to use Haas and Hammons together? Do P.J. Thompson and Johnny Hill get the Yogi Ferrell assignment, or will Rapheal Davis slide over to guard the point on defense? This game is going to be a ton of fun to watch because it could be a 20-point victory for either team if their opponent doesn't adjust properly, but it really should be a wire-to-wire street fight and chess match all in one.
-Marco Knudsen: I'm interested in seeing how Thomas Bryant fares against the massive front court of Purdue. That was Indiana's downfall last season, and now that Hammons and Haas are back to go along with star freshman Caleb Swanigan, the interior for Purdue will be even more problematic.
The Hoosiers will need to rely on their guards to help rebound against the NBA sized front line. If they can't help crash the boards, the Hoosiers will be in for a long night at home.
3. Who Wins On Saturday Night?
-Thomas Beindit: Honestly, I think Purdue is going to be a really tough matchup for Indiana and will bring out its best game on Saturday night. Unfortunately, picking against Indiana inside Assembly Hall is never a good idea. The Hoosiers perform so well there and the crowd is going to be insane on Saturday night. This is going to be a really tough matchup for Indiana, but I'll take the Hoosiers.
-Jerome Scherwin Jr.: I've got Indiana, at home, in front of a crazy Assembly Hall crowd (one in which was absolutely deafening against Iowa last week) pulling this out. I think Yogi Ferrell, will not only rediscover his shooting stroke that has gone ghost as of late, but will do everything in his power to get his first win against Purdue since his freshman year.
-Noah Morris: It's always difficult to pick against Indiana in Assembly Hall. Indiana is absolutely the safe pick to win this game, and will surely be favored in Vegas. With that being said, I've got Purdue going into enemy territory and handing Indiana a home loss. All they have to do to be able to score at will is shoot the three even a little bit, and after seeing Ryan Cline get in a groove lately, I feel like Vince Edwards, Dakota Matthias and Kendall Stephens will provide just enough shooting to get the job done.
-Andrew Holmes: Heart is what is matters in rivalry games, and my heart always says Purdue. BTFU.
-Marco Knudsen: This is an extremely crucial game for Tom Crean and I'm sure the raucous environment will help keep it close. Even though Assembly Hall is hard to win in for opposing teams, Purdue has the formula to hand the Hoosiers another loss at the prestigious venue and with the addition of Swanigan, the offensive versatility on the low block could be too much for the Hoosiers to handle once again. Purdue 74, Indiana 69.
Purdue at Indiana will tip-off at 8:30PM ET on ESPN.