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Nebrasketball: Purdue Preview

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Purdue is turning itself into a power Big Ten Squad. Can the Huskers shut them down?

NCAA Basketball: Minnesota at Purdue Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

Date: Saturday, February 8th

Time: 7:00pm CST

Location: West Lafayette, IN

TV: BTN

2017-18 Record: 30-7 (15-3 Big Ten Conference)

2018-19 Record: 16-6 (9-2 Big Ten Conference)

Head Coach: Matt Painter (14th Season)

Previous Season

The Boilermakers had another banner year in 2017-18. They tied for second place in the Big Ten regular season with Ohio State. Purdue then made a run through the conference tournament where they were stopped by champion Michigan in the title game.

They earned the Eastern #2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. There they defeated Cal State Fullerton and Butler before having their season end in the Sweet Sixteen to Texas Tech.

Current Season

Purdue started out ranked in the Top 25 at the beginning of the season but hit some bumps in the road early on. They lost to the #16 Virginia Tech in the Charleston Classic in mid November. The Boilermakers then followed it up with a quick win over Robert Morris before losing a close one to then #15 Florida State in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge and then getting blown out by then #7 Michigan in their first conference game of the season. Both very good teams but losses none the less.

A two point win over then #23 Maryland was a slight reprieve before losing two straight again to Texans and then Notre Dame in the Crossroads Classic. At this point in the season it was mid December and the Boilermakers were 6-4 and out of the Top 25. A lot of the preseason hope was dwindling. Even though most of their losses were to decent teams.

They then pulled off three strait wins before losing to then #6 Michigan State. Again, a fairly noble loss. Since then they’ve gone on a 7-0 run and giving them a respectable 16-6 record before this upcoming game with Nebraska. A few of their wins during this run have been to Wisconsin in overtime, Ohio State, and they found revenge against Michigan State in a 10 point win.

We now have Purdue ranked for the first time since early December and making their way up the Big Ten Conference. Though I will say that 8-15 Penn State gave them a scare in Happy Valley. In the end they were able to pull off the win in overtime 99-90 against the Nittany Lions.

The Boilermakers are lead by guard Carsen Edwards. The 6’1” guard is averaging a whopping 24.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game. I do not like this matchup for Nebraska. He is 37% from the three point line and 41% from the floor. If he gets hot, and he will, the Huskers will be in for a fight on defense and will need to shoot better than 20% on offense to keep up.

Like past Purdue squads, this one is large. They have the size needed to play in the Big Ten. However, their leading rebounder is a guard. A 6’6” guard. Nojel Eastern is only averaging 6.8 points per game but a very nice 5.1 rebounds.

Yes, there are a lot of players on other teams that have more than double that productivity. But that is because Purdue has a lot of players pulling down boards. You have to go against the entire team to get the ball. Not just a few.

Also of note is senior Ryan Cline. He is another 6’6” guard that will push the Huskers the entire game. Ryan averages 12.9 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game. He’s deadly behind the arch shooting 44% at the three point line.

Prediction

I’ll be honest, I do not like this matchup for the Huskers. This is not the most talented team that Purdue has suited up in the past few seasons but they are more than good enough to take down Nebraska. They’re large, athletic, and well coached. Yes, they’ve had some bumps along the way but have matured well as the season has gone on.

Nebraska will most likely come back to Lincoln with another loss in this one.

Purdue University 87 University of Nebraska 68