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Golden Gopher Basketball looks to sweep Purdue - OPEN THREAD

Truth be told I'm not very confident about tonight's game. Purdue is coming off an embarrassing loss at Ohio State and I'm sure they feel as though they let us get away with a cheap win in The Barn a couple weeks ago.

Game Time: 12:00 CST

Pos #18 - Minnesota Pnt/Gm Pnt/Gm #12 - Purdue Pos
PG Blake Hoffarber 14.1
5.6 Lewis Jackson
G Rodney Williams 6.7
18.8 E`Twaun Moore G
F Trevor Mbakwe 13.4
7.4 Ryne Smith
F Colton Iverson 6.8
Travis Carroll F
C Ralph Sampson III 10.8 19.4 JaJuan Johnson
Bench Chip Armelin
5.9 Kelsey Barlow
Bench Austin Hollins
3.7 5.8 Terone Johnson
Bench Maverick Ahanmisi
D.J. Byrd Bench

First and foremost we absolutely cannot allow JJ Johnson to go off for 29 points again. Ralph or Colt or even Mbakwe need to slow him down considerably. And I believe this because there is no way that E'Twaun Moore shoots 2/14 again. These two will combine to score plenty of points but we need to keep them to a combined 40 or less.

The wild-card for Purdue is Lewis Jackson who is playing rather well lately. In Purdue's win over Michigan State he managed to score 19 points. The game before that he scored only 3 and the game after he had 5, but in the Big Ten season he has games of 17, 15, 10 and 19 so he is absolutely capable of scoring a bunch and giving Purdue a third scoring option. In their Michigan State win he and Johnson and Moore combined for 65 points!

For Minnesota we need to get back to pounding the paint. In the Purdue win the first time around we were carried by our backcourt. Nolen and Hoffarber combined for 39 of our 70 points and as a team we were beat soundly on glass. Mbakwe had his lowest scoring game of the Big Ten, Sampson and Iverson each had 6 and as I mentioned we were outrebounded by 10.

KenPom Efficiency Stats Minnesota (42) Purdue (10)
Record 16-4
Pnt / Poss 1.132 (31)
1.161 (18)
Def Pnt / Poss 0.951 0.881 (14)
Off eFG% 51.9%
Def eFG% 46.6%
46.2% (67)
Off Reb % 39.2% (11)
Def Reb % 68.7%
TO % 20.4% 16.2 (6)

Well since our last meeting Purdue has fallen a bit in their KenPom rankings, but there is no denying that they still have some impressive numbers. The one stat that jumps out is their defensive eFG%. When we were set to face them in game one the Boilermakers ranked 13th in the country in Def eFG%. In just the four games since they've dropped to 67th. Blake made four threes in that game and has made just three since, so maybe (just maybe) he'll get some open looks again that he can knock down and keep us in this game.

Overall Purdue still has very good numbers as a team. They score efficiently and they hold teams down to a very low .881 point per possession. This team is not what they were hoping to be but this is still a very well coached team that plays the best defense in the conference. They have a balanced offense that can beat you inside and out.

Here is what is really interesting about this game. In order for us to win, the winning formula will have to flip. We won game one with our backcourt scoring in spite of getting beat by double-digits in rebounding and allowing JJ Johnson to score at will while our best offensive player (at least in the frontcourt) had a very average game. But to win today we'll need to pound the paint and dominate the glass while containing JJ Johnson. Mbakwe, Iverson and Sampson need to score in the paint and draw some fouls while Hoffarber needs to hit a few key threes to keep the defense stretched, the rest of the backcourt just needs to take care of the ball.

KenPom gives us a a 14% chance of winning, in the last meeting we had a 21% chance to win and we pulled that one out at home. I fear that the combination of Purdue's focus this time around plus our depleted roster plus being on the road is going to spell a loss. But I don't think any of us were expecting to sweep Purdue and really this win would be a tremendous and unexpected boost to our profile. I hope I'm wrong.