Following a week off to regroup after a crushing loss to Maryland, Northwestern is back in action Saturday at Welsh-Ryan Arena against Purdue. We've asked this question before, and we'll ask it again. Will this be the game that the Wildcats finally break through and end their losing streak?
It's not going to be easy. The Boilermakers have been surprisingly good through eight Big Ten games. They come to Evanston having knocked off Iowa and Indiana in consecutive games. However, they're just 1-3 in true road games, and the only win came in overtime at Penn State.
Purdue's team identity right now is centered around a pair of 7-foot centers, Isaac Haas and A.J. Hammons. Haas is a 7-foot-2 freshman who has had an immediate impact, and has pushed the erratic Hammons for minutes. Matt Painter rarely plays the two together, but when they're on the floor, their usage rates are the two highest on the team. They're also a big reason Purdue is a much better 2-point shooting team than 3-point shooting team.
For Northwestern, Nate Taphorn remains sidelined with a foot injury. Taphorn missed the games against Michigan, Ohio State and Maryland after emerging as a key bench player in the two games prior. Collins spoke about that and more Thursday at practice. Bryant McIntosh and Alex Olah also answered questions.
Here's everything you need to know about the game, including an interesting shot distribution stat:
Time: 5 p.m. CT
Radio: 720 WGN and wgnradio.com | 89.3 WNUR and wnur.org
Line: Purdue opened as a 2-point favorite, but, as predicted on this week's Pound the Talk podcast, it has swung all the way to Northwestern by 1.5. NU is even favored by 2 some places.
KenPom: Pomeroy has Purdue winning 66-65, but it's essentially an even bet, with the Boilermakers only a 51 percent favorite.
Key Stat: Purdue gets to the rim at a good rate--38 percent of the Boilermakers' shots come from within five feet of the rim--and its shooting percentage once it gets there is 67 percent, a top-five mark among power conference teams. Haas shoots 69 percent at the rim, and Hammons shoots 74 percent. Keep the ball out of the lane and out of the hands of Purdue's bigs will be key for Northwestern.
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