The Hoosiers have had little time to celebrate the season’s 18th victory over Michigan State as they head to West Lafayette tonight to take on in-state rival, Purdue.
Indiana needs to approach this game with a bit of caution, because there are two sides to this Boilermakers team, and if the Hoosiers take them lightly IU could find itself in a bit of a trap game.
On the one hand, you have a Purdue team that’s 207th in the country in points per game, 273rd in 3-point percentage, 287th in effective field goal percentage, and 323rd in free throw percentage (out of 347 teams). Not only that, they’re a paltry 11-9 overall, and dangerously close to being eliminated from ever having any real tournament consideration this season.
On the other hand, this is the Boiler team that’s 14th in the nation in rebounds per game, 25th in offensive rebounds, only gives up an average of 56.5 points per game, and is currently only two games out of first place in the Big Ten.
That’s right – after stumbling out of the starting blocks (well, more like face-planting), the Boilermakers have somehow managed to regroup during conference play, with wins over Nebraska, Penn State, Iowa, and then-ranked #11 Illinois. Their three conference losses have come against the Big Ten’s elite: road losses at Michigan and Michigan State, and a home loss to Ohio State.
As is becoming a staple with my ‘By The Numbers’ articles, we’ll take another look at Dean Oliver’s Four Factors for success and see where Purdue ranks in comparison to the Hoosiers. Remember:
Effective Field Goal percentage - A shooting percentage that takes into account both field goals and three pointers made.
Turnover percentage - The rate at which a team turns the ball over turnovers over possessions.
Offensive rebounding percentage - The rate at which a team collects offensive rebounds.
Free Throw Rate - Made free throws over field goal attempts.
FOUR FACTORS: SEASON AVERAGES
Not surprisingly, the Hoosiers shoot the ball better, even on the road.
The Boilers came out on top in 2 of the 4 categories, however – turnovers and offensive rebounds. Unfortunately, I don’t think it will be enough to make a difference in tonight’s game against Indiana. Indiana’s just too strong offensively, and simply a better team at this point.
Don’t write off the Boilermakers, however; as Purdue will be more or less looking to save their season at home against their biggest rival. A win against the third-ranked Hoosiers would go a long way in doing that, moving them a game behind Indiana in conference standings, and 5-3 overall in the Big Ten.
I fully expect Painter’s boys to lay it all out on the court Wednesday. But if Indiana takes this game seriously, expect the Hoosiers to make quick work of Purdue ahead of Saturday’s real battle against the #1 Michigan Wolverines.
Prediction: Indiana 76, Purdue 63