Game Info/ How to Watch
Who? Indiana Hoosiers (20-9, 10-6) vs. Purdue Boilermakers (19-11, 10-6)
When? Friday, March 3rd, 2:00 PM, Big Ten Network
Where? Banker’s Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana
Rivalry week in the state of Indiana continues. After Indiana’s men’s team was unable to take down Purdue in West Lafayette on Tuesday, the women’s squad has a chance to avenge them in the Big Ten tournament on Friday.
The Hoosiers are the four-seed in this year’s tournament and their matchup with Purdue will be their first game after getting a bye in the first two rounds. They are riding high coming in as they have won five of their last six, including a 74-60 victory at Illinois in their last game.
Meanwhile, Purdue is the five-seed and after getting a bye in the first round, they are coming off a 72-58 victory over 12th-seeded Illinois. The Boilermakers were led by Andreona Keys’ 26 points while All-Big Ten guard Ashley Morrissette finished with 13.
However, Purdue is not the only team with All-Big Ten talent in this contest. Indiana’s Tyra Buss and Amanda Cahill were recently awarded with All-Big Ten honors while Alexis Gassion was named to the All-Defensive team.
Whichever team wants to win this game will have to grind it out until the end. Both teams have had successful seasons and both finished 10-6 in conference play, which shows how evenly matched the two teams areas a whole. Don’t be surprised by a good old-fashioned defensive battle as Purdue comes into the game with the highest ranked defense in the Big Ten, holding opponents to 58.4 points per game.
Cahill and Jenn Anderson will have to earn everything they can get in the post as they match up with Purdue’s Ae’Rianna Harris and Dominique McBryde who have proven to be two of the best post defenders in the conference.
Meanwhile, Gassion’s perimeter defense will become very vital to the Hoosiers’ success if the offense struggles against Purdue’s stingy defense. They will need to counteract any defensive tenacity that gets thrown at them and Gassion is the player to do it.
Indiana is 15-21 all-time in the Big Ten tournament but they aren’t just looking to improve upon that record this year. They are looking to win it all and it all starts with this game.
Stuff to Watch For
The rivalry continues: Listen, we know the men’s team blew it again. We know the three things to expect in life are death, taxes and double-digit turnovers by halftime but don’t’ expect that from the women’s team. This one is going to be much more evenly matched than Tuesday’s game and could easily come to a down to the wire finish that fans of the rivalry have yearned for all season. Indiana won 74-60 in their first matchup this year in Bloomington. Besides, this is the Big Ten tournament, not the regular season. The stage is set for a grudge match.
Buss vs. Morrissette: Both teams have All-Big Ten First Team guards in Tyra Buss and Morrissette. Both are two of the most dynamic scorers in the conference and both aren’t afraid to shoot the ball. It has yet to be seen if the two will truly matchup and guard each other during the game as Indiana head Teri Moren might insist on putting Gassion on Morrissette. Either way, it will be fun to see which high-scoring guard can produce the most when it’s all said and done.
Make Purdue shoot outside: One thing Purdue has struggled with this season is their outside shooting. They rank ninth in the Big Ten in three-point field goal percentage at 32 percent but still managed to rank second in overall field goal percentage at 37.4 percent. That just goes to show that the Boilermakers do their most damage offensively inside the arc. If Indiana can force them outside and buckle down in the post, Purdue could have some major problems. Even if their defense is top-notch, it will be hard for Purdue to contend with an Indiana team that is so skilled on offense if they aren’t scoring at the same level. Buss and Cahill have both proven to be deadly beyond the three-point line this year and if Indiana can force Purdue into a shootout, leaving their fate in the hands of their two best players would be ideal.
Purdue’s defense: It’s already been made clear that Purdue is the best defensive team in the Big Ten. They are nearly three points better than the second-best defense. Nearly every guard can defend at a high level around the perimeter and Harris and McBryde are a scary duo in the post as a superb shot-blockers. However, one thing that is surprising when evaluating their defense is despite not giving up many points, they don’t force a lot of turnovers. They only rank fifth in the conference in steals. Indiana actually ranks ahead of them in that department at fourth. Purdue just plays exceptional half-court defense. One thing Indiana has done really well this year is take care of the ball and they rank second in the Big Ten in assist to turnover ratio. If they can continue that trend and find a way to get Buss or Cahill hot early, Purdue could have trouble finding a way to remain competitive. If their defense fails, they are in trouble.