It’s not going to be easy, but as the old saying goes nothing in life that’s worth having ever is. Wednesday night Micah Shrewsberry and the Nittany Lions will travel to the Mackey Complex in West Lafayette to battle the best team in the country — the Purdue Boilermakers.
When these two teams met at The Palestra in January the Nittany Lions gave the top ranked Boilermakers all they could handle for the first half. Penn State carried a lead into halftime, but following a dreadful start to the second half the Nittany Lions were defeated 76-63.
A win on Wednesday night would take Penn State from the bubble line to being comfortably in the field of 64. It would take a herculean effort, but one thing that is for sure is that the Nittany Lions will not go down without a fight on Wednesday night.
Scouting the Opposition
There is not much to be said about Purdue at this point. Matt Painter’s team very well may be the best in the country, let alone the Big Ten. It would not be a surprise at all to see the Boilermakers cutting down the nets at NRG Stadium on April 3rd.
The Boilermakers do everything well. They allow just 60.3 points per game, while averaging 73.8 per contest. Their 39.5 rebounds per game ranks 29th nationally, and their 15.3 assists per game is among the best in the conference.
Purdue is led by Zach Edey who may be the best player in the country. Edey’s 22.1 PPG ranks 4th nationally and his 13.0 rebounds ranks 3rd. The 7-foot-4 athletic freak shot 67% from the field, while scoring 30 points and pulling in 13 rebounds in the two team’s first matchup this season.
Freshman guard Braden Smith has continued to improve as the season has gone on. He also terrorized the Nittany Lions at The Palestra, scoring 15 points to go with 7 assists and 6 rebounds.
What to Watch For
What did the coaching staff learn from the first matchup? - Good coaching staffs learn from losses and adjust. Coach Shrew’s staff is undoubtedly a good one. So, what did they learn from their loss against Purdue earlier this season? What will they do differently to try and combat Edey? Not that there is much anyone can do.
Repeating the Michigan game plan - In their blowout victory over Michigan this past Sunday the Nittany Lions did a great job defending Hunter Dickinson and keeping him in check. While Dickinson is not the same level player that Edey is, the 7-foot-1 big man is still a future NBA player. They got physical with Dickinson and were not afraid to put multiple players on him. Will they try something similar?
There is little doubt that the Nittany Lions will give the Boilermakers everything they’ve got on Wednesday night. Unfortunately, it’s hard to envision it being enough to topple the no. 1 team in the country. Purdue 75, Penn State 61