Fresh off a 58-56 win over Illinois over the weekend, the Northwestern Wildcats (17-9 overall, 5-8 Big Ten) travel to West Lafayette to take on the No. 17 Purdue Boilermakers (20-6, 8-5) on Tuesday night.
In their last game, the Boilermakers lost 61-56 on the road against a Michigan team that's sitting firmly on the bubble. Despite that loss, Purdue has put together a solid conference resume and picked up a massive 82-81 overtime win over Michigan State on Feb. 9.
Purdue has tremendous size (per KenPom, it's the 12th largest team in the country) which it has used to become one of the best defensive teams in the country. The Boilermakers rank seventh in adjusted defensive efficiency and fourth in effective field goal percentage allowed nationally. Matt Painter's squad features two 7-footers in AJ Hammons and Isaac Haas and starts four players taller than 6-foot-6. If Northwestern is to have any chance to pull off the upset, the Wildcats will need to neutralize Purdue's huge size advantage.
For Northwestern, this could be a must-win game if the Wildcats are to score an invitation to the NIT tournament. Apart from an early-season victory over Wisconsin (which is No. 33 in KenPom's rankings on the heels of seven straight wins), Northwestern doesn't have a win over a team ranked better than 88th. A win would bring the Wildcats back to 6-8 in conference play and, it should be noted, Northwestern is likely be favored in three of its last four games.
It'll be interesting to see how many minutes Scottie Lindsey plays tonight, or if he starts. He was tremendous against Illinois, tallying 18 points and making multiple key defensive plays down the stretch. He has scored double digits in three of the last four games. Chris Collins may very well stick with Aaron Falzon, however, in an effort to counterbalance the Boilermakers' height.
As far as pregame reading/listening goes, we've got you covered:
--Our Zach Pereles gives you an in-depth preview of the matchup. He says Northwestern must slow down Purdue's high-quality bigs.
--The latest Pound the Talk podcast delves into Northwestern's postseason hopes and also previews tonight's game.
--Check out our Big Ten power rankings to see where both Northwestern and Purdue stand.