Penn State returns “home” to the Palestra to take on the No. 1 Purdue Boilermakers. The Boilers are fresh off a loss to Rutgers at home, and a squeaker of a win against Ohio State. If Penn State were to complete the upset, this may very well be the best time to do it.
Along with UConn and New Mexico, Purdue was the last undefeated team standing as of last week. All three have now lost at least once, so no more undefeated teams remain.
Scouting the Opposition
Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Zach Edey, the Kenpom No. 1 player of the year to date, is everything for Purdue, and could alone doom the Lions in this contest. His job is pretty simple: park inside the post, make every shot known to humankind on offense, and prevent any shot from the opposing team on defense. He’s pretty freaking good at that, as his 62.6 percent rate from the field indicates, along with his 20.8 percent offensive rebound rate (that’s first in the country), 28.2 defensive rebound rate (28th), 7.0 block percentage (71st), and 62.1 free throw rate (55th). This team runs through Edey, and stopping him is effectively impossible. The best the Lions can hope for is slowing him down.
All that said, here’s the interesting part. Purdue isn’t exactly lighting the nets on fire otherwise. They have one player above 40 percent shooting from outside the arc in Braden Smith, who shoots it at a 42.9 rate. The next best shooter is Brandon Newman at 35.7 percent. No one else is above 33 percent from beyond the arc. So, if the Lions can shoot the ball even moderately well and force Edey to push the ball out, they should be in great shape.
What To Watch For
The formula for this year’s Penn State is simple. They need to trade threes for twos. Can the Lions effectively get into a game of “I’ll let you take as many twos as you want while we take threes?” Now of course the Lions need to make them, but, if they can effectively shut down everything but bad jumpshots and the bunnies Edey is going to have all game long, they should put themselves in good position.
To that end, will Micah Shrewsberry opt to run small ball for most of the game? Realistically speaking, Kebba Njie and Michael Henn, along with Demetrius Lilley if he plays, are only going to pick up 15 fouls at the speed of light going against Edey in this matchup. So, don’t be surprised if Shrewsberry throws that strategy out the window right away.
Penn State has yet to lose a game at the Palestra. While it would be awesome to see the trend continue, it’s hard to pick against the No. 1 team, even if they’re looking vulnerable. Purdue 71, Penn State 67
Please use this as your open thread for the game. As always, open thread rules apply. No illegal streams, no NSFW content, and for the love of all things cute, be nice to each other, the players, and the staff!
Here’s to a victory! We Are!