G'day, people. It's New Years', so, before going to your party to watch people in MY CITY celebrate, comment and NU play Purdue to get you prepped for the bowl game tomorrow.
Real excellent preview post by Loretta yesterday, but, let me have my two cents: Purdue has been a significantly better team than NU my entire time at Northwestern, and they are again this year. However, there's a reason Northwestern is 2-1 against the Boilermakers since I came to college, with the one loss a game where NU blew a double digit lead in the closing minutes of the game, and it's the same reason I think NU can win today, even though they're completely outmatched.
Purdue plays fantastic, fantastic, aggressive man-to-man defense. They're great at it. According to Kenpom, they're No. 2 in the country. Chris Kramer annoyed fans of every other Big Ten team last year because he was so damn irritating to whoever it was your team counted on for perimeter scoring, and even though he's gone, I bring him up because he embodied the tenacity you'll see from any guy on their squad matched up one-on-one against an attacker. But their aggression plays PERFECTLY into the hands of a team that runs a Princeton Offense, leading to backdoor cuts to the hoop ad nauseum until they begin collapsing to prevent that, at which point it leads to open threes. It is overwhelmingly noteworthy that Purdue is 12-0 this year against teams that do not run the Princeton Offense, and 0-1 teams that do - the Richmond Spiders, who handed the Boilers a 65-54 loss.
And when they have the ball, as Hammer and Rails points out, Purdue has always seemed perplexed by the 1-3-1 offense. Last year in Evanston, Luka Mirkovic drew some early fouls on JaJuan Johnson, and from there on, they had no counter to the 1-3-1 - they're not a team that bases itself on perimeter passing, which is what the 1-3-1 can't defend.
If NU wants an upset, Purdue is perennially the team they'll be most likely to get it from, not because Purdue is bad, but because NU's style of play is so antithetical to everything Purdue does. That said, they'll have to play their asses off. And John Shurna will have to shoot like he's at 100 percent, because NU will lose if him and Luka can't be offensive dead weight, and Luka already is offensive dead weight.
Personally, I'm in transit to Chicago, but I'll be watching on in the sports bar at JetBlue's awesome JFK terminal and then from 30,000 feet on JetBlue. It's noteworthy that the last time NU played while I was at the JetBlue terminal, NU beat Illinois State in football. Go Cats, yo.