Indiana was the No. 1 team in the land through the first month of the season, but a tough overtime loss to another Hoosier State rival, Butler, put an end to the team’s dream of a perfect season. Since that time, IU has won nine of 10 bouts and sits at 18-2 overall and 6-1 in conference. The Hoosiers have won their last three games since suffering a 64-59 loss at home to Wisconsin on Jan. 15, the most recent of which being a 75-70 triumph over visiting Michigan State on Sunday. Indiana is ranked third in this week’s AP poll, one of four Big Ten teams among the top-13, and five in the Top-25.
Purdue has had an up-and-down year, recording 11 wins but suffering nine losses. The team has yet to win more than three games in a row at any given time, but it has also yet to lose more than two in a row. The Boilermakers claimed a 65-62 overtime win versus visiting Iowa on Sunday to run their league ledger to 4-3, and their record in home games to 9-3. Purdue has only beaten one team to have spent any time in the Top-25 this season, topping Illinois at home on Jan 2, 68-61.
Purdue owns a 112-86 lead in the storied history between these two bitter rivals, and has won five of the last seven meetings. Indiana’s two wins in that stretch came last season, but the Hoosiers have dropped four of the last five bouts played in West Lafayette.
Indiana had a solid game at both ends of the court in the recent win over Michigan State, shooting 50.9 percent from the floor, draining eight 3- pointers along the way, while the Spartans were held to 45 percent field goal efficiency despite knocking down 11-of-23 trey attempts. MSU was guilty of 19 turnovers, and was outscored at the foul line by a 13-5 margin. Victor Oladipo led the Hoosiers with 21 and seven rebounds, while Christian Watford tacked on a dozen points and grabbed six boards.
Yogi Ferrell had 11 points and Jordan Hulls finished with 10 for an Indiana squad that is presently averaging 83.3 ppg while permitting just 60.5 ppg. Cody Zeller (16.0 ppg, 8.1 rpg), who tallied nine points against Michigan State, continues to pace the club in both scoring and rebounding, all while shooting nearly 60 percent from the field and 73 percent from the charity stripe. Oladipo (13.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.4 apg) is next in line in the scoring column, and three others are netting double figures on a consistent basis as well.
Purdue got off to a slow start in its recent clash with Iowa, the Hawkeyes did too, but a better second half propelled the team to victory as it claimed a three-point verdict in overtime. Both teams shot poorly in the opening half, and the score certainly reflected that fact (19-16 Purdue). Iowa was held to a dismal 15.4 percent shooting performance in the opening frame, and the team finished at just 31.1 percent for the game. The Hawkeyes hung around thanks to a 19-12 edge in points from the free throw line.
The Boilermakers got double-digit scoring efforts from four guys, among them Terone Johnson who logged a double-double consisting of 17 points and 12 rebounds. Ronnie Johnson added 15 points, Donnie Hale 12 off the bench, and D.J. Byrd chipped in 10 despite going just 2-of-9 from the field. Terone Johnson (13.5 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and Byrd (10.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg) are the only two players averaging double figures for the Boilermakers, but A.J. Hammons (9.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and Ronnie Johnson (9.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.6 apg) are on the cusp. As a team, PU puts up 66.1 ppg while allowing 61.5 ppg, and the team is +6.3 in rebounding margin while holding the opposition to just 38.4 percent field goal accuracy.
Indiana is certainly the better team in this matchup, but the Boilermakers aren’t about to roll over and play dead. Expect a hotly-contested affair, but for the Hoosiers to prevail just the same.
Predicted Outcome: Indiana 68, Purdue 63