Indiana’s surprising run through the Big Ten Tournament ended yesterday when Iowa came from behind to knock off the Hoosiers. They’ll face one time Big Ten frontrunner Purdue, the only team that had a double bye that didn’t lose in their first game on Friday.
Game of the Day
#3 Purdue Boilermakers vs #5 Iowa Hawkeyes
Time/TV: 3:30 PM ET CBS
Line: Purdue -2.0
The hot team versus the team many expected to win the Big Ten title at one point.
Outside of a loss to Illinois where they scored 72 points, Iowa has scored at least 80 points in seven of their last eight games. The Hawkeyes have gone 11-2 their last 13 games following the end of January where they lost to Purdue and Penn State. The offensive outburst is interesting because they’ve been rolling and now face a Purdue team that has been dragged all year over their issues on the defensive side of the ball.
So naturally the Purdue defense has looked considerably improved, giving up more than 70 points only once in the last ten games. The Purdue defense has taken care of business down the stretch while the Purdue offense has stagnated, helping them win several games and giving them a chance to win in their two losses at Michigan State and Wisconsin. And while BTN constantly repeated the “Purdue has lost three of their last seven games” tidbit, the Boilermakers are 12-3 over their last 15 games.
In the Hawkeyes first two games they simply blitzed past their opponents, not a huge surprise as Northwestern and Rutgers aren’t known for their offensive prowess. Indiana isn’t a particularly great offensive team, either, but their defense is better and their physicality give Iowa enough fits that the Hoosiers almost landed the upset. Interestingly enough some of the prior Purdue teams would have likely had a field day today if they had that same defensive intensity.
The Boilermakers were the only Big Ten team to receive a double bye that didn’t promptly lose on Friday. They’ve kept things interesting this weekend, allowing both Penn State and Michigan State to hang around. Jaden Ivey has been great all weekend, the bigs have taken care of business for Purdue and even Brandon Newman had a huge performance against Penn State. Now they’ll look to take their improved defense and hope to piece together a more consistent offensive performance for 40 minutes to knock off Iowa.
This will be the third outing between these two teams, with Purdue winning both games. The first game didn’t see either team play particularly well, with Purdue winning despite their 17 turnovers and Iowa shooting 5 of 21 from three without Keegan Murray. When they played again at Iowa, this time with Keegan Murray in the lineup for the Hawkeyes, a turnover prone Purdue once again give Iowa fits on the offensive side of the ball and won by ten.
It’s actually interesting that a Purdue team that has struggled defensively at times this season has more or less taken care of business in both games against one of the best offenses in the conference. Even more so when you realize they committed 17 and 15 turnovers in both games. Considering how Iowa has played down the stretch, Purdue likely won’t be able to win if they commit another 16 turnovers today. The one benefit is for whatever reason Keegan Murray and Iowa haven’t been able to get the offense rolling against Purdue.
If the Boilermakers want to win the title they’ll need to get the offense back up and running. They’ve made plays all season long, but there have been too many droughts and periods throughout every game where they stagnate. Part of that is the team has been hit or miss when it comes to shooting from three, as Zach Edey and Trevion Williams have looked good all year. And while Jaden Ivey is occasionally quiet for a half, he typically pops off sooner or later. If the Boilermakers could simply take advantage of some of the open looks they’ve missed, while taking care of business at the line, they’d likely be on their way to a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Iowa got a big three to seal the deal against Indiana by Jordan Bohannon, a shot he hit from Steph Curry territory. It’ll be interesting to see if Iowa can keep up their recent breakneck pace, as Indiana showed signs of finally slowing the Hawkeyes offense. It took a huge day from Keegan Murray, who hit 8 of 10 from three, to help carry Iowa before a couple key shots by Bohannon closed out the win. If Purdue can keep Murray in check, it’ll be very difficult for Iowa to win.
It’s hard to win in the Big Ten, let alone three times against the same team. Luckily for Purdue they’ve managed to play better down the stretch and have had some success defensively against Iowa. The key today will be if Purdue can slow down Murray and will their role players be able to hit from the perimeter (it would go a long way for Sasha Stefanovic to get hot). While the Purdue offense has been a bit off and the Iowa defense has looked better, the Hawkeyes still are prone to problems on that side of the ball. Look for Painter to attack inside with Edey and Williams, while letting Ivey attack the rim whenever he can get out and running.
Today should be a high flying offensive performance not reminiscent of the cliché Big Ten slugfest. If each team plays to their potential Purdue should win, though it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if Iowa finished their run through the tournament with a win. The Boilermakers do have the advantage of having played one less game, though, as Iowa will be playing their fourth game in four days.