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What It Means: Purdue-Nebraska postponement

Mackey Arena
Tuesday night's Purdue-Nebraska game has been postponed. (Chad Krockover)

Amidst a grueling stretch of road games — Purdue's already played at No. 5 Iowa, No. 12 Illinois and No. 15 Rutgers, with No. 23 Michigan State Friday in East Lansing — the Boilermakers were due a bit of a break.

A home game against 4-7 Nebraska, off to an 0-4 start in conference play, a game in which Purdue would have been a double-digit favorite with an 86-percent KenPom win probability.

The Big Ten affords few sure things, but this would have been the closest thing Purdue would have found all season, at least on paper.

Alas, this disjointed 2020-2021 season had other ideas. Monday night, before Nebraska traveled to West Lafayette, the game was called off, at least for the time being, due to COVID-19 concerns on the Cornhuskers' end.

The two sides will work to reschedule for later in the season, and there's optimism something can be worked out, though the logistics may not be easy, but in the meantime, here's a look at some ways this affects Purdue.

• Purdue will now wind up playing four straight road games, perhaps for the first time ever. Modern Big Ten scheduling typically doesn't allow for stretches of more than two games consecutively played either home or away. But after playing at Rutgers and Illinois this past week, Purdue's next two games will be at Michigan State and Indiana.

All told, the Boilermakers will wind up playing five of six in Big Ten play on the road, four against ranked teams, and that would comprise five of Purdue's first seven overall in conference play.

After the trip to Bloomington, Purdue will close the season with seven of 12 at home, eight of 13 if the Nebraska game gets added back.

• Purdue will go 23 days midseason without playing a home game, between the Christmas Day Maryland game and Jan. 17 meeting with Penn State.

• Should the Nebraska game not be made up — again, there is optimism it can be, though it may require some broader reshuffling around the league to accommodate other postponements as well — then Purdue, again, would lose the most-winnable game on its schedule, the home game vs. the Huskers.

As of today, Purdue holds a 74-percent KenPom win probability for the meeting at Nebraska Feb. 20, but at home that number was a dozen points higher.

Should that game be lost forever, though, it would also spare Purdue's NCAA Tournament résumé the SOS hit it would take from playing the current No. 184-ranked team. That trade-off probably wouldn't be a net gain, though, over playing the game and presumably winning.

A loss, of course, would be disastrous — see: 2019-2020 — and the game's cancelation would alleviate that risk.

• Purdue will get almost a full week clear, a full week of nothing but practice.

Painter's often said over the years that he values extended opportunities in-season to practice, the sort of windows the Big Ten schedule doesn't normally afford.

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