Yesterday, I took a look at the history between these teams. Today, let's look at the 2008 versions. As I said yesterday, the computer rankings probably don't reflect that team that Purdue is right now. IU still has the lead in RPI (23), Sagarin (12), and Pomeroy (13 to Purdue's 23). Pomeroy's statistical model gives Purdue only a 24 percent chance of winning at IU tonight and only a 39 percent chance of winning at Ohio State. Since the Big Ten season began, Purdue's only loss was by 3 at Michigan State, and Purdue became only the third Big Ten team in seven years to win at Wisconsin. The Boilers would be formidable opponents even if the Sampson soap opera were not ongoing.
While much has been made of Purdue's three point shooting, the Boilers have really excelled at the defensive end. Purdue's raw offensive efficiency score of 1.04 points per possession ranks #122 in Division I. Oddly enough, Purdue's five least efficient offensive performances in Big Ten play have been at home. Over the entire season, Purdue's only really noteworthy offensive ranking is #60 in turnover percentage (unfortunately, defensive turnover percentage is IU's least impressive ranking). On the defensive side, Purdue's overall efficiency is outstanding, ranked in the top 20 both raw and adjusted. While Purdue's effective field goal percentage is pedestrian (48.5, #113), Purdue forces turnovers (via steals and otherwise), rebounds well defensively, and blocks a lot of shots. If IU can shoot the ball or get to the line, the Hoosiers will be in good shape. But according to the statistics, Purdue's success can mostly be attributed to taking care of the ball on offense and limiting the opponents number of scoring opportunities on defense. IU has been a good rebounding team all year, so that should be an interesting battle. While IU has struggled at times this season with turnovers, IU really has kept them in check since that awful performance at Minnesota early in the conference season.
Courtesy of Statsheet, here is how IU and Purdue rank within the Big Ten in various categories, counting conference games only:
Points per possession: IU #2 (1.079); Purdue #3 (1.06)
Effective Field Goal percentage (offense): IU #1 (52.4); Purdue #5 (50.8)
Effective Field goal percentage (defense): IU #4 (40.7); Purdue #7 (43.3)
Free throw percentage: IU #1 (76.0); Purdue #2 (74.8)
Free throw rate: IU #7 (34.3); Purdue #5 (35.0)
Three point FG% (offense): IU #5 (34.2); Purdue #2 (39.9)
Three point FG% (defense): IU #7 (34.2); Purdue #2 (31.9)
Offensive Rebound %: IU #8 (32.1); Purdue #10 (31.3)
Defensive Rebound %: IU #1 (73.1); Purdue #9 (67.5)
Turnover percentage (offense): IU #3 (19.4); Purdue #1 (18.9)
Turnover percentage (defense): IU #9 (18.2); Purdue #2 (25.2)
It will be interesting to see whether IU will try the zone defense at all. If DJ is hurt, IU may have no choice, but Purdue is one of the leading three point shooting teams in the conference. Of Purdue's four players who have attempted 60 or more three pointers, three (E'Twaun Moore, Robbie Hummel, and Keaton Grant) have made more than 40 percent. Hummel is particularly dangerous, shooting 53 percent from two point range and 46 percent from behind the arc.
Purdue looked vulnerable at time against Northwestern but still managed to win by 15. Overall, the Boilers appear to be a year early and present an important test for IU. With a win, the Hoosiers will remain in the Big Ten title hunt, with a three way tie among IU, Purdue and Wisconsin a realistic possibility and with some slim chance at an outright title. If IU loses, Purdue almost certainly will be the #1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, and likely will win the conference outright. Either way, with all that surrounds this game, it should be one of the more memorable in the series.