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GOLDANDBLACK.COM PREVIEW: #6 PURDUE at WISCONSIN

More ($): Fearful Predictions — Purdue's 2017-18 season | Stuff That Matters

Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018 • 7 p.m. ET | Kohl Center (Madison, Wis.) | TV: ESPN | Radio: Purdue Radio Network

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News: GoldandBlack.com Hoops Ticker

ABOUT THIS GAME

• Purdue's 19-game winning streak has turned into a two-game slide as both Ohio State and Michigan State made plays in games' final seconds to knock the Boilermakers off.

The Boilermakers still stand as a No. 1 seed to the NCAA Tournament as of this moment, but now needs help in the Big Ten race, as Ohio State came out of the weekend a game up on Purdue and Michigan State.

Wisconsin is basically playing out the string to finish out a disappointing and injury-riddled season. It's 11-16 overall and 4-10 in the Big Ten. It showed a pulse, though, in pushing Maryland to its breaking point in College Park, then winning at Illinois, but then got routed at home by Michigan Sunday. It was the Badgers' third loss in a row at the Kohl Center, unthinkable by past standards.

• Purdue won the front end of this double-header 78-50 in Mackey Arena on Jan. 16, thanks in part to 14-of-22 three-point shooting — the Badgers often double-teamed Isaac Haas — and 14 steals. Wisconsin's 20 turnovers — seven apiece for star Ethan Happ and point guard Brad Davison — accounted for 19 Purdue points.

• In Big Ten games, the Badgers post double-digit conference rankings in scoring (12th — 63.8), scoring defense (10th — 69.8), field goal percentage (10th —43.1), field goal percentage defense (12th — 47.3), three-point shooting (10th —33.o), rebounding margin (10th — -1.9) and turnover margin (11th — -1.0), among others.

• Wisconsin will honor former All-American Frank Kaminsky at the game.

NUMBERS AND SUCH
Team AP Coaches RPI KenPom KenPom - Win%

PUR

6

7

12

4

81%

WIS

150

94

19%

#6 PURDUE BOILERMAKERS (23-4, 12-2 B1G)

Roster | Schedule | Statistics

Projected Starters

C - Isaac Haas (7-2, 290, Sr.)

Opponents are conceding to Isaac Haas, preferring to slow those around him from the perimeter. People seem to believe it's the "blueprint" to beat Purdue, but the blueprint was so fool-proof at Michigan State that it took a Superman shot from a Superman athlete in the game's final seconds for the Spartans to win on their home floor. That being said, Purdue would probably like more balance.

Haas was 0-for-5 in the first meeting between these two teams, but he burned its double teams solely by occupying them and allowing others to go off.

F - Vincent Edwards (6-8, 225, Sr.)

This is a mystery: The senior forward can't seem to make the shots lately he's made all season and throughout his career, missing higher-percentage looks on drives and around the basket. He's still racking up rebounds and assists, but his 6-of-23 shooting the past two games would look much, much different, as would Purdue's record, if those bread-and-butter shots were falling.

G - Carsen Edwards (6-1, 200, So.)

The sophomore was a defensive terror against the Badgers last time, finishing with five steals, along with his game-high 21 points. Pressure on Wisconsin's guards will matter, because they're young, and thin in the backcourt. And Purdue's leading scorer will obviously be a difficult matchup for Khalil Iverson or Brevin Pritzl or whoever's guarding him.

G- P.J. Thompson (5-10, 185, Sr.)

Whoever's guarding Brad Davison will want to wear him down and force mistakes. That was Purdue's formula in Game 1, in which the young Badger point guard committed seven turnovers. Thompson will get some open looks from three and is due for things to even out some.

G - Dakota Mathias (6-4, 200, Sr.)

Purdue may need to make threes to separate itself again in Madison and Mathias is the best Purdue has in that area. He's not taken double-digit shots in a game since Minnesota on Jan. 13, which isn't altogether surprising because he's never been a volume-dependent player, but maybe more cracks at it for him wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.

KEY PLAYERS

G —Ryan Cline (6-5, 190, Jr.)

It's not that Cline's not making shots; he's not getting shots. In the past two games, he's attempted a total of just one, and it wasn't even a three.

G — Nojel Eastern (6-6, 220, Fr.)

Eastern's done some nice things defensively and on the glass, but things do change offensively with him on the floor, because he's not the floor-spacer Thompson is.

F — Grady Eifert (6-6, 220, Jr.)

Eifert's seeing spot minutes at the 4 and being modestly productive, with a total of two rebounds, two assists and a steal in a combined seven minutes the past two games.

C — Matt Haarms (7-3, 250, R-Fr.)

Not a bad afternoon for Haarms at Michigan State. There was a defensive breakdown or two, but he gave the Boilermakers seven points, three rebounds and two blocks in just 13 minutes and made a couple important free throws.

WISCONSIN BADGERS (11-16, 4-10 B1G)

Roster | Schedule | Stats

C- 22 Ethan Happ (6-10, 235, Jr.)

Maybe the most unique player in the Big Ten, Wisconsin's big man will play with his back to the basket, facing the basket and often, bring the ball up as the Badgers' de facto No. 2 point guard.

He's one of the few players you'll see anywhere leading his team in scoring, rebounding and assists, and he's been on a tear the past two games, scoring 27 at Illinois, then 29 vs. Michigan.

In Big Ten play, Happ's averaging 18.6 points, 8.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists.

In the first meeting, Happ was held to 15 points on 7-of-16 shooting and just six rebounds, his seven assists largely offset by his seven turnovers.

Happ is one of the finest players in the Big Ten, but he's not gotten much help this season.

F - 35 Nate Reuvers (6-10, 215, Fr.)

The freshman spent a good deal of the first meeting guarding Haas, but with enough help to keep the ball away from him before Haas could take advantage of the matchup, though Haas did contribute to Reuvers' foul trouble.

At the offensive end, the rookie can shoot from the perimeter, 10-of-25 from three-point range in Big Ten play, two of them against Purdue.

F -21 Khalil Iverson (6-5, 210, Jr.)

The super-athletic swing man is not a threat to shoot (but Purdue has thought that about other players lately too and been burned) but is a threat to punish the rim off baseline drives and is someone Purdue will want to keep a body on when rebounding.

G - 34 Brad Davison (6-3, 205, Fr.)

The freshman has been pressed into a leading role by a season-ending injury to D'Mitrick Trice and has had the sort of ups and downs that come with youth. Purdue forced him into seven turnovers, for example. He was a great shooter coming out of high school, but is connecting on less than a third of his attempts in conference play, but averaging 10.4 points nonetheless. He's logging huge minutes for Wisconsin without a true backup to spell him and that may take a toll down the stretch. He's a big part of Wisconsin's future, though.

G- 2 Aleem Ford
(6-8, 215, So.)

Now a starter, the swingman is making almost 48 percent of his threes in Big Ten play on high per-minute volume. He's averaging less than five points, but could have some great-equalizer potential if he gets hot.

KEY PLAYERS

G- 1 Brevin Pritzl
(6-3, 197, Jr.)

Pritzl has long been known for his shooting, but he comes in at just 31 percent from three-point range in Big Ten play.

F - 25 Alex Illikainen (6-9, 231, Jr.)

Illikainen has come and gone from Wisconsin's playing rotation this season, as the Badgers have a number of big bodies they can turn to, none of them having established themselves particularly well. Illikainen can make threes, too, so that might be something Purdue's wary of.

F - 5 Aaron Moesch (6-8, 220, Sr.)

Moesch will probably give Wisconsin a few minutes off the bench in its frontcout.

THREE THINGS
CONTAIN HAPP TURNOVERS GOOD DECISIONS

Easier said than done, but if Purdue's posts need to be disciplined, stay big and not take the bait when Happ goes to his bag of tricks around the rim. On the perimeter, if Purdue can make things difficult on the Badger guards and make Happ handle the ball more, that would just add to his workload.

Purdue's turnover avoidance at Michigan State was the prime reason it was in position to win at the end, and it will stand as maybe the Boilermakers' most important key every time out the rest of the season. Empty possessions at key times have cost Purdue dearly in its losses.

The Boilermakers may again see post-doubles, in which case its shooting will come to the forefront again. If the doubles come, Haas' decision-making will be crucial, as will shot selection on the perimeter. It's been a few games now that Purdue has seen consistent help in the post.

PREDICTION: PURDUE 80, WISCONSIN 70

Wisconsin is just so limited. It's shocking to say that a loss at the Kohl Center would ever go down as a bad one, but this one would. Purdue's lost two in a row but is no less of a team than it was before, when it had won 19 straight. Here's a chance to prove it.

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