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1/28 Big Ten Basketball Preview: Purdue Heads to New Jersey

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

There is only one game today before the NFL Playoffs begin, with Purdue facing off against Rutgers on Fox this afternoon.

Game of the Day

#2 Purdue Boilermakers at Rutgers Scarlet Knights

  • Time/TV: 1:00 PM ET Fox
  • Line: Purdue -10.5

In the only game today Purdue heads east to New Jersey to face off against Rutgers. The Boilermakers need to not look ahead, with next week shaping up to be a big one with a home game against Northwestern on Wednesday and a road trip to Wisconsin next weekend. Rutgers will try to bounce back from a 23 point loss to Illinois.

While Purdue has had some recent problems with Rutgers, the Scarlet Knights are 2-5 in league play this year and struggling heavily on the offensive side of the ball. KenPom’s efficiency ratings pins Rutgers outside the top 250 offensively, largely spoiling a top 15 defense. Rutgers is only shooting 39% from the field, 29% from three and only 65% from the free throw line, making scoring a major problem.

That should be prove problematic against a Purdue team currently ranked second offensively. The Boilermakers also have a stout defense, positioned just ahead of Rutgers. Even more problematic is Purdue’s defensive woes typically seem to stem from not being able to stop teams from shooting from three and the Scarlet Knights aren’t well positioned to take advantage of the Boilermakers occasional lapses on the perimeter.

Zach Edey has been surging as of late, as has Lance Jones who has been key to Purdue’s offensive success away from the rim. Fletcher Loyer and Braden Smith still don’t always produce on the offensive side of the ball, but both have been a lot more consistent in their sophomore seasons compared to more up-and-down freshmen campaigns. Smith has been producing all over the court even when he isn’t scoring, averaging more than 7 assists and 5 rebounds per game.

Winning on the road is tough but Purdue has shown the ability to do so, with recent double digit wins at Indiana and Iowa. Unless Rutgers can suddenly find some three point shooting that has been missing all season it’s highly unlikely they land an upset today.

Pick: Purdue