Indiana Hoosiers v. Purdue Boilermakers: IU seeks the sweep on Senior Night (preview).

Purdue Boilermakers

Current record: 20-10 (10-7)
Current RPI: 43 (IU is #15)
Current Sagarin: 27 (IU is #9)
Current Pomeroy: 26 (IU is #10)

2010-11 record: 26-8 (14-4), lost to VCU in NCAA Tournament round of 32
2010-11 RPI: 12
2010-11 Sagarin: 13
2010-11 Pomeroy: 9

Series: Purdue leads 112-84
Last IU win: 2/19/2008 (77-68 in Bloomington)
Last Purdue win: 2/23/2011 (72-61 in Bloomington)
Last IU win in West Lafayette: 3/1/06 (70-59)
Pomeroy scouting report
TV: 6 p.m. Sunday, BTN

Blogs: Hammer and Rails, Boiled Sports, The Railroad Tie

Indiana seeks to finish the regular season portion of its return to relevance with a Senior Night win over Purdue. When the schedule came out, I viewed this game with some trepidation. Before the season, I thought IU would be a bubble team and that the Hoosiers, even if much improved, had little chance of winning at Mackey Arena. I did not like the idea of Senior Night, a night that already is filled with emotion, saddled with the added stresses of trying to beat Purdue for the first time in four years and fighting for an NCAA Tournament bid. While the perfectionist in all of us will dwell on the losses to Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska, reflecting on how we viewed this season just three and a half months ago is a good way to appreciate what has transpired. Anyone who had predicted wins over Kentucky, Ohio State, and Michigan State, and a 17-point win at Mackey, would have been considered crazy. I thought that the entire season was going to turn on this game. As it turns out, it won't. Regardless of what happens Sunday, IU will play in the NCAA Tournament and will have a good seed. Still, a home loss to Purdue would be a sour note, as it always is, and finishing off the regular season sweep of the Boilermakers would be a great sendoff for five seniors--Tom Pritchard, Verdell Jones III, Matt Roth, Daniel Moore, and Kory Barnett--who have endured some of the lowest moments in IU's basketball history.

Purdue's up-and-down 2011 season has been mostly on the upswing since the Hoosiers' 17-point win in West Lafayette. At the time, it looked like the IU loss might send the Boilermakers to the NIT. But Purdue has responded pretty well, going 5-2 since then, with the only losses coming at Ohio State by 3 and at home to Michigan State in the game in which DJ Byrd was suspended for the bar incident that led to the removal of Kelsey Barlow from the team. The Boilers also can claim one of the best wins in the Big Ten this season, a 15-point win at Michigan last weekend on the Wolverines' senior night. As I mentioned before the last game, before the season I assumed Purdue would be fine defensively but might struggle to find their offense. In reality, the opposite has been true. Purdue's offense has been fine, but the typical shutdown defense hasn't been there. In Big Ten games, Purdue ranks #2 in offensive efficiency and #8 in defensive efficiency (IU is one spot ahead in each category). Thanks to the undersized but impressive Lewis Jackson (and probably in part because the lack of many interior scoring options limits the need to pass into traffic), Purdue takes care of the ball better than anyone in the nation, turning the ball over on only 13.5 percent of their possessions (and they've been even better, 12.5, in Big Ten play). Purdue leans more heavily on the three point shot this year than in previous seasons, taking 36 percent of their shots from deep. Really, none of Purdue's offensive percentages stand out other than the turnover percentage. There is much to be said for not wasting possessions.

FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
Robbie Hummel 30 32.2 5.7 13.9 40.9 2.0 5.5 35.8 3.5 4.3 82.8 1.6 5.4 7.0 2.0 0.9 0.7 1.3 2.0 16.8
Lewis Jackson 30 26.1 3.6 7.5 48.2 0.2 0.8 24.0 2.9 4.0 72.3 1.1 2.0 3.1 4.2 1.6 1.2 0.0 1.9 10.3
Ryne Smith 30 28.9 3.1 7.0 43.8 2.5 6.0 42.2 0.6 0.8 76.0 0.3 2.3 2.7 1.2 0.6 0.8 0.1 2.0 9.3
D.J. Byrd 28 18.1 2.7 6.3 43.4 1.9 4.1 45.2 1.1 1.4 77.5 0.8 1.4 2.2 0.9 0.5 0.3 0.2 1.8 8.4
Kelsey Barlow 26 24.3 2.8 6.7 42.0 0.3 1.2 25.0 2.4 3.4 69.7 1.4 2.3 3.7 1.7 1.0 1.2 0.2 2.3 8.3
Terone Johnson 30 22.3 3.3 7.1 46.2 0.6 2.0 29.5 1.1 2.8 40.0 0.7 2.5 3.2 1.8 1.3 1.0 0.2 1.8 8.3
Anthony Johnson 29 15.0 1.9 5.0 37.2 0.4 1.5 27.3 0.9 1.9 49.1 0.7 1.4 2.1 1.0 0.8 0.4 0.0 1.6 5.1
Travis Carroll 30 17.1 1.1 2.4 47.9 0.1 0.2 33.3 0.3 0.6 55.6 1.5 1.6 3.1 0.5 0.6 0.5 0.6 1.5 2.7
Jacob Lawson 27 12.0 1.1 1.9 58.8 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 1.0 34.6 1.3 0.8 2.1 0.3 0.6 0.5 0.7 2.4 2.6
John Hart 16 5.6 0.6 1.5 37.5 0.3 1.0 31.3 0.3 0.4 66.7 0.0 0.4 0.4 0.1 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.6 1.7
Sandi Marcius 20 7.9 0.7 1.1 59.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.7 46.2 0.8 1.2 2.0 0.2 0.7 0.2 0.2 1.4 1.6
Neal Beshears 9 2.3 0.2 0.3 66.7 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.2 0.2 100.0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.2 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.7
Dru Anthrop 11 3.2 0.3 0.7 37.5 0.0 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.2 0.7 0.9 0.5 0.0 0.4 0.1 0.2 0.5

Robbie Hummel has responded pretty well to becoming "the man" on offense, something he never had to be, at least not exclusively, when JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore were around. As I said before last game, Lewis Jackson's shooting percentage is amazing for a 5-9 kid who doesn't shoot well from the perimeter. DJ Byrd and Ryne Smith are streaky but dangerous three point shooters. After spending his first season and a half as an epic bricklayer, Terone Johnson finally seems to have discovered his offense, and he played the best game of his career at Michigan last week. The best three point shooting game of his career was last year in Bloomington, when he made 3 of 6.

All that said, I think IU is a pretty tough matchup for Purdue. The Boilers have no obvious conterpart to either Cody Zeller or Victor Oladipo, both of whom played very well in the earlier game. Still, I'm pretty nervous about this one. Zeller could get into foul trouble, and there is always the risk of emotions running a little too high on Senior Night. Purdue has been extremely tough on the road in the Big Ten this year. Other than the hard-to-explain 20-point beatdown at Penn State and the easy-to-explain beatdown at Michigan State, Purdue has won at Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Northwestern, and Minnesota, and played well in a road loss at OSU. They also played extremely well for 30 minutes at Xavier before an epic collapse. This isn't a team that will be intimidated on the road, and most of their players have won in Bloomington before.

Hopefully the fans and the team will maintain an even keel. This is a big game, it matters, but it's not decisive of anything other than a relatively rare opportunity for a sweep of Purdue. This has been a fantastic season no matter what. For your entertainment, and because it's hate week, I feel compelled to post a link to this post, not so much for the 26-5 (14-4) prediction (Travis admitted he was being optimistic, although it is somewhat delicious that an IU win would put Purdue below the worst case record of 21-1), but for the sublime awesomeness of the IU discussion in the comments. Let's not forget, in mid-November there were two eternal truths held by a decent chunk of the Purdue fan base: 1) Cody Zeller was profoundly overrated; and 2) Tom Crean was a drooling moron, a fraud, "Clappy the Clown," etc. That attitude is quite evident in the comments, where Travis received quite a bit of pushback for thinking that IU could win 15-18 games and just might, might, might be on the bubble by the time March 4 rolled around. For the true believers in the above articles of faith, this basketball season must have been comparable to what members of a cult experience when a designated judgment day turns out to have been the fabrication of their leader. Let's hope that Sunday night's matchup leaves them with no ammunition.
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