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1/20 Big Ten Preview: Purdue at Indiana

Preview all of Thursday’s Big Ten action.

NCAA Basketball: Indiana at Purdue Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten might only have one game on Thursday, but it’s a big one. A top five Purdue team will head on the road to face off against arch-rival Indiana on Thursday night in a game that could have serious postseason implications on both sides.

Let’s take a look at the matchup.

Game of the Day:

-No. 7 Purdue Boilermakers at Indiana Hoosiers

  • Time/TV: 7:00 PM ET (FS1)
  • KenPom Spread: Purdue by 3

Before we get into the matchup itself, it’s important to recognize the recent history of this rivalry. While Indiana has fought valiantly in some of these games, Purdue has owned the rivalry since Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller were in Bloomington. The Boilermakers have won nine straight and 12 of the team’s last 13 outings in the series, with many of those wins have come by double-digits as well. It’s undeniably one of the most one-sided runs in the history of this rivalry.

Of course, Indiana hopes to change that dynamic on Thursday night with a new head coach and an improved roster. Mike Woodson took over last offseason and has done well so far, pushing the Hoosiers to a 13-4 start, including an upset over Ohio State just two weeks ago. Trayce Jackson-Davis leads the way down low and should give Purdue plenty to worry about on Thursday night, especially in front of a hostile crowd. Indiana’s fast start and the road environment should make this one of the more intriguing meetings between the two teams in recent years.

However, I would be remiss not to mention Purdue’s strengths here as well. This projects as one of the better Boiler squads in recent memory. Purdue is ranked fourth nationally by KenPom and the human polls and enters Thursday following one of its most impressive wins of the season on the road against Illinois. And even if there’s some travel fatigue, don’t be fooled here. Purdue is going to arrive with more than enough fire to push the Hoosiers and a dynamic frontcourt featuring Zach Edey and Trevion Williams.

The matchup itself will almost certainly come down to the backcourt. Purdue seems to have a clear advantage with Jaden Ivey and Sasha Stefanovic. Xavier Johnson has shown some progress this season for the Hoosiers, but he and players like Rob Phinisee and Parker Stewart are widely inconsistent. It’s how a team with Indiana’s metrics ends up in tight games against Nebraska (twice), Penn State, and Syracuse. Johnson had underwhelming performances in all four of those games, either being a non-factor offensively or finishing with underwhelming efficiency numbers. If Indiana is going to win on Thursday, it’s hard to see that happening. He is absolutely the player to watch on both sides.

All told, this looks like a fantastic game where fans are going to get fire from both sides. Expect Indiana to come out with razor intensity from the start. The question is whether they can sustain it and work in the half court. If Johnson and company come ready to play, this should be a really fun game.

  • Pick: Indiana