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Rutgers Basketball Game 27 Preview: Purdue

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It will be a difficult road test for the Scarlet Knights against a very good Boilermaker team.

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at Purdue Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

How To Watch & Listen

Rutgers (13-13; 2-11) At #16 Purdue (20-5; 9-3)

Where: Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Indiana

Tip-off: Tuesday, February 14th at 7:00 p.m. ET

TV: BTN - Jeff Levering and Stephen Bardo

Radio: WCTC 1450 AM & WOR 710 AM - Jerry Recco & Joe Boylan; WRSU 88.7 FM

KenPom Rankings: Rutgers #135; Purdue #11

KenPom Prediction: Purdue 78 Rutgers 59; Rutgers is given a 4% chance of winning.

Series History: Purdue leads the series 7-1 all-time, including last season’s 50 point victory. Rutgers lone win over the Boilermakers came during the 1975-1976 Final Four campaign.

About Purdue

Purdue is one game back of first place Wisconsin in the Big Ten standings and have won 6 of their 7 games. They are 12-2 at home with their only losses coming at the hands of defending national champion Villanova and to Minnesota in overtime. They own wins over Wisconsin, Maryland, Northwestern, and Notre Dame. They are 2nd in adjusted offensive efficiency and 3rd in adjusted defensive efficiency in Big Ten play. They rebound very well and are an excellent shooting team from behind the arc and from the free throw line. To sum up the Boilermakers, they are a very good basketball team. Here is our their top players of note:

Caleb Swanigan - The 6’9” sophomore forward is a superstar and leads the country with 21 double-double’s this season. He is second in the Big Ten in scoring with 19.0 points per game and leads the conference with 12.8 rebounds. Swanigan actually grabs the second most boards in the country, trailing only Seton Hall’s Angel Delgado, who dominated Rutgers in late December with a 19 point, 16 rebound effort. Swanigan is also a good passer for a big man and averages 2.8 assists per game, while shooting 55% from the field, 78% from the free throw line, and a stunning 48% from three-point range.

Isaac Haas - The 7’2” center is second on the team in scoring with 12.8 points on 58% shooting from the field. He is third on the team in rebounds, pulling down 5.1 boards per game.

Vince Edwards - The 6’8” junior just tied his career high with 26 points in Purdue’s win over Indiana last week. For the season, he is averaging a solid line of 11.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per contest.

Carson Edwards - The freshman guard from Texas has been impressive in his rookie season and contributes in multiple ways. He averages 11.0 points, 2.8 boards, 2.0 assists, and 1.1 steals per game.

Dakota Mathias - The junior guard is steady and has a 2.9 assist to turnover ratio while producing a balanced line of 10.0 points, 3.9 assists, and 3.6 rebounds per contest.

P.J. Thompson - He leads the Big Ten with a 5.0 assist to turnover ratio. He is crafty and is a good rebounder for being just 5’10”.

Keys To The Game

Win Turnover Battle

One thing Purdue does not do a lot of is force turnovers and block shots. That is good news for Rutgers, who struggle mightily against opponents that create havoc on the defensive end. Rutgers turned it over just 9 times in the Minnesota game, which was a big step forward in that area. While the guards of Purdue are very good in protecting the basketball, big men Swanigan and Hass combine for 6 turnovers per game. The best way for Rutgers to neutralize the duo is to force takeaways and jump start their transition offense, an area of strength.

Rebounding Is Strength v. Strength

Purdue is 7th in the country in limiting opponent’s offensive rebounding and they only allow 31 boards per game. They are a strong rebounding team on the defensive end, so Rutgers will be put to the test in being able to grab offensive rebounds at their normal high rate. Purdue leads the conference with a +8.3 rebounding margin. After watching Rutgers get beaten inside by Minnesota, it is concerning to think of what might happen tonight against the stout frontcourt of Purdue. On the other end, Rutgers must get offensive through second chance points to stay competitive, so they must be active on the glass.

Defend The Three

Purdue is a tremendous long distance shooting team and is 3rd in the country in three-point field goal percentage at 41.8%. They shoot even better in conference play at 42.4%. Four of the top nine shooters in the Big Ten are on Purdue. Mathias is shooting 49% on 110 attempts, Swanigan is 48% on 56 attempts, Vince Edwards is 46% on 81 attempts, Ryan Cline is 44% on 78 attempts, and PJ Thompson is 41% on 99 attempts. For comparison, Mike Williams tops Rutgers in shooting 34% on 110 attempts. Rutgers must not allow Purdue to get open looks on the perimeter or this could get ugly quickly.

Limit Purdue’s Trips To Line

Purdue is #1 in Big Ten play at the free throw line, shooting 81.7%. A big key in Nebraska beating Purdue was that they limited them to just 13 free throw attempts. Of course, they made 12 of them, but the damage was limited. The problem for Rutgers is their big men foul often and the frontcourt duo of Haas and Swanigan have taken 58% of Purdue’s free throw attempts this season. Haas averages 72% and Swanigan shoots 78%. Allowing them to get to the charity stripe at a high rate will likely spell disaster.

In The Bonus

The last time Rutgers picked up a road win over a ranked team was against #13 Pittsburgh in 2008. Tonight is a very difficult matchup for Rutgers and face the opponent who beat them by the widest margin last season. Expectations should be low in this one, but it is important for Rutgers to show some fight in this game and battle throughout. Their last three performances on the road have been an improvement with 12 point loss to Maryland, a 2 point win over Penn State, and a 6 point loss to Ohio State. It would be encouraging to play a feisty, hard nosed brand of basketball and not make things easy for Purdue by making costly mistakes. Hopefully, they can play error free for the most part and bring intensity on the defensive end, letting the chips fall where they may.