Indiana-Purdue Preview: Analysis, Point Spread, Prediction, TV Time and Announcers

On Saturday at 7:00 ET, the 20th-ranked Indiana Hoosiers (17-6, 5-6) travel to West Lafayette to take on their arch rivals, the Purdue Boilermakers (15-7, 5-4), on the Big Ten Network.

As always, Jerod, Ryan, and Andy will be here with another episode of The Assembly Call as soon as the game ends with instant analysis and fan reaction.

IU-Purdue Gameday Info

IU-Purdue Preview

Purdue

The Boilers come in losers of four of their last seven games, including a pair of home losses, but they have been idle since last Saturday when they picked up a nice road win at Northwestern.  Robbie Hummel hit the game winner and tallied 11 points, while Terone Johnson came up big with 14 points for Purdue.

Without E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson, this Purdue team has a significantly different look than in years past on a number of fronts.  Offensively, the team has very limited production in the post and relies heavily on Robbie Hummel and Lewis Jackson.  Hummel leads the team with 15.2 points and 6.0 rebounds per game, but he’s hitting just 39.5 percent from the field.  He can step out and knock down three-pointers but has struggled from long range in conference play.

Jackson is the kind of quick point guard that has given Indiana trouble off the dribble.  He has battled back injuries of late, but he comes in averaging 10.2 points and a team-high 3.9 assists.  IU needs to keep him out of the lane where he can be dangerous at either finishing or kicking it out to open teammates.

Ryne Smith is the team’s designated sharpshooter and is hitting 41.8 percent from beyond the arc this season.  The Hoosiers allowed a number of Michigan players to get open looks from three-point range, and they cannot afford to lose track of Smith.  The aforementioned Terone Johnson has shown flashes this season, while veteran D.J. Byrd has been a solid contributor off the bench.

The Boilers have struggled with their shooting in conference play, hitting 33.9 percent of their three-pointers, 47.6 percent of their two-pointers, and a league-worst 64.3 percent from the line.  They rank eighth in free throw rate in league play and 10th in offensive rebounding percentage, but they do boast the lowest turnover rate in the nation.  As a result, the Hoosiers can’t afford to gamble on defense and get themselves out of position.  They also need to do a better job of stopping dribble penetration and not allowing uncontested layups, as they did on multiple occasions against the Wolverines.

As has not been customary in recent years, Purdue has struggled defensively this season.  They are in the middle of the pack for overall efficiency, but they rank 11th in league play in effective field goal percentage defense.  They are dead last in three-point defense, which the Hoosiers should look to exploit with Jordan Hulls and Matt Roth outside.  The Boilers are eighth in defensive rebounding percentage and ninth in opponents’ free throw rate, so Indiana needs to remain aggressive at driving to the basket and crashing the glass.  Purdue does have a solid turnover rate, which is an area that has plagued the Hoosiers at times this year.

Indiana

Once again, the Hoosiers got off to a slow start on Wednesday night, falling in 13-0 hole against the Wolverines and trying to dig their way out over the remaining 35 minutes.  They got as close as two points but allowed a pair of clutch three-pointers and faltered down the stretch.  Tom Crean called his starting lineup “a joke” after the game, so it will be interesting to see if any changes are made.

One change that may be made for him is related to Verdell Jones, who hurt his shoulder late in the first half against Michigan and sat out the second half.  Jones is expected to be a game-time decision, but if he can’t go, it might free up more playing time for Matt Roth and freshman Remy Abell, who has played well in recent games.

As always, it will be important for Indiana to pound the ball inside to Cody Zeller given Purdue’s lack of quality big men.  Zeller posted his second career double-double against Michigan but certainly didn’t play one of his best games.  He seems to still be struggling with the physicality of Big Ten play but needs to be more aggressive in carving out position for himself and attacking the basket.  Given Purdue’s three-point defense, it would again be wise for the Hoosiers to play from the inside-out.

Jordan Hulls is coming off of a terrific game against Michigan.  He scored 18 points and dished out five assists, but more than that his leadership helped the team claw its way back into the game.  It will be important for him to carry over his hot shooting, as the Indiana native looks for his first win over the Boilers.

The Hoosiers also need a more consistent effort from Christian Watford.  He played poorly in the first half against the Wolverines and started the second half on the bench.  Watford responded to the benching with some inspired basketball on both ends of the floor, but he needs to bring that effort from the opening tip.  Otherwise, he may continue to cede playing time to Derek Elston, who has been a spark off the bench in recent games.

Will Sheehey also needs to respond following a rough night against Michigan that saw him go scoreless with three turnovers and two fouls in just 10 minutes of action.  He played well in his first start against Iowa, but it’s unclear whether he will retain a starting role for the third straight game.  Meanwhile, Victor Oladipo seems to have embraced his role off the bench, scoring 18 points and grabbing 12 boards over the last two games.

Final Thought

To some extent I feel like a broken record here in saying that IU needs to stop dribble penetration and feed the ball to Zeller inside.  They also have to bring a consistent defensive effort throughout the game, something they have struggled to do in recent games.

And while those things will be critical, how Indiana plays at the start of the game will be even more important.

The team has fallen behind early in virtually every game they have lost.  Michigan State jumped out to a nine point lead in the first 6:30, Ohio State was up 11 in roughly the same amount of time, Wisconsin led by five before the first TV timeout, and Michigan was up 13-0 early in Wednesday’s game.  For a team still learning to win on the road, they simply can’t afford to get that “here we go again” feeling.  More than that, a quick early start might help quiet what is sure to be an electric atmosphere at Mackey Arena.

Indiana needs to win this game to get back to .500 in conference play and prove they can win on the road.  Purdue needs this win to protect their home court before a number of tough games down the stretch and to help preserve their spot in the NCAA field.  If the Hoosiers want to come away with what would be their best road win of the season, it will be imperative that they get off to a good start, play solid position defense, and cut back on unforced turnovers.

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Listen to Andy Saturday on The Assembly Call. Follow him on Twitter at @AndyBottoms.



About Andy Bottoms

While Andy was born and raised in Indiana, he would like to point out that he grew up shooting hoops in his driveway and not against the side of a barn like you see in all the March Madness promos or in the middle of a field like Jimmy Chitwood. Andy ranks among the top bracketologists according to the Bracket Matrix and has provided his projections to Fox Sports for the past three seasons. When not compiling excuses for missing work during the NCAA Tournament, Andy enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters. He is a proud IU graduate and co-hosts The Assembly Call postgame show following every IU game. Twitter: @AndyBottoms

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