The Gophers are now on a three-game winning streak after beating Ohio State, Oklahoma State and Florida International, each of which were impressive and convincing. For the first time all season the team is firing on all cylinders and leaders like Daniel Oturu, Marcus Carr and Gabe Kalscheur are scoring in droves and delivering on both sides of the ball. The end result is Oturu leading the conference in rebounds and second in scoring, blocks and field goal percentage. Carr checks in at second in the conference in assists.
The sledding gets a little tougher on Thursday, as the Gophers start the full conference slate on the road at Purdue. While the Boilers are ranked 12th in KenPom, they are 8-5 on the season, having lost to the likes of Texas, Marquette, Florida State, Butler, and a head scratcher to Nebraska. They also snuck by VCU and thoroughly dominated Virginia during the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
Purdue Boilermakers (1-1, 8-5)
Date and Time:
Thursday, Jan. 2 @ 6 p.m. CT
Mackey Arena (West Lafayette, IN)
Tell me more about the opponent.
Mackey Arena is a very difficult place to play so the Gophers will have their hands full with a good Boilermaker team. They did drop a home game to Texas earlier in the year, but at 6-1 at home on the year. They’re currently getting a few votes in both national polls, but are not ranked in the Top 25.
Jahaad Proctor leads a trio of double-figure scorers with 12.2 points per game, joined by Eric Hunter, Jr. (10.8) and always annoying Matt Haarms (10.8).
The Boilermakers have the Big Ten’s best scoring defense, holding opponents to 57.4 points per game which is ninth in the country. Purdue has limited every opponent this season to 70 points or less entering Thursday’s matchup.
The Boilers do a great job on the offensive glass, limiting opponent’s three pointers and keeping them off balance. The Gophers will need to be on their game offensively if they want to pull one off on the road.
Beating a conference opponent on the road is one challenge the Gophers haven’t yet accomplished this year. Their last attempt was a miserable effort against Iowa, where they shot incredibly terribly. Since then they’ve looked like a completely different team - one that can shoot well and hold their opponents in check defensively.
They beat a great defense when they upended Ohio State. Can they do it again? They actually play okay on the road at Mackey Arena. With the team firing on all cylinders I’ll take the Gophers by 2 in a thriller.