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Penn State at Purdue Preview

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Who: Purdue Boilermakers (19-10, 9-7)
When: Tonight, 6:30 PM
Where: Mackey Arena
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: Affiliates, Sirius - CH 92, XM - CH 191

This is the last chance this season for Penn State to notch a true road win. Despite shocking Purdue back in early January, I don't think anyone expects anything different than what PSU has shown on the road this year, which has been nothing but terrible basketball.

Purdue has been playing very well as of late, winning 4 of their last 5 including a huge win in Ann Arbor over the weekend against Michigan. They've essentially secured their spot in the NCAA tournament. A win on the road is always impressive, but it's even more so in Purdue's case due to some off-the-court adversity. Less than two weeks ago, D.J. Byrd was arrested for public intoxication and Kelsey Barlow was dismissed from the program. With their performances last week, Purdue has moved on quite nicely from this ugly incident.

Purdue's revamped starting lineup features three guards in Lewis Jackson, Ryne Smith, and now Terone Johnson. All have shown scoring capability including Johnson, who scored 22 points against Michigan. Robbie Hummel is still Robbie Hummel and Byrd is back with the team after a one-game suspension. He missed their loss at home to Michigan State, but he's still arguably the best 6th man in the conference (12.0 PPG, 50% 3P% in conference play).

PSU (on road) Conference-Only PUR (at home)
63.5 Pace 64.3
0.89 PPP 1.10
40.9% eFG% 48.1%
30.5% OReb% 30.9%
18.1% TO% 10.9%
28.2% FTR 39.4%
1.14 Opp PPP 1.09
56.4% Opp eFG% 53.9%
30.5% Opp OReb% 29.2%
19.7% Opp TO% 18.2%
56.1% Opp FTR 35.4%

While Purdue has been very effective offensively, this has been one of Matt Painter's worst defensive teams in the last 5 years. Their 96.2 adjusted defensive efficiency rated by KenPom is the highest mark since Painter's first year as a head coach. In conference play, they are giving up 1.09 points per possession, which is 9th in the Big Ten (PSU is 8th at 1.08). Their pressure defense hasn't been as suffocating, and they aren't forcing as many turnovers as they have in the past. Opponents are also shooting a higher percentage of threes and making them at 36.0% rate. Overall, Purdue's defense is thoroughly average by the numbers in all facets, but PSU's road offense likely won't be able to take advantage.

On offense, Purdue's biggest strength is their ability to get shots. They lead the country in TO% at a measly 13.3% rate. They have a balanced attack that's fueled by Hummel and supported by a balanced backcourt with multiple three-point threats (Smith, Hummel, Byrd) and dribble penetrators (Jackson, Johnson). Painter hasn't been able to get much of anything out of his bigs as sophomore Travis Carroll is the only one in the regular rotation.

Penn State will need their improving frontcourt to continue to be productive inside to help compliment a good game from Tim Frazier if they want to have any chance on the road. The perimeter shooting isn't likely to show up now after being absent all season (26.6% 3P%). Unfortunately, Billy Oliver won't be out there to hit another seven threes again.

Purdue will have somewhat of a revenge factor going after the whooping PSU put on them earlier. Penn State will have to be at the top of their game on both ends, and even then it might not be enough if they can't put the ball through the hoop. KenPom likes Purdue 73-60 and I don't see how the result will be any better. Hopefully PSU can be competitive for most of the game instead of getting down by 15 early as they have in past road contests.