Carsen Edwards is coming off his worst game of the season heading into a matchup with the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team.
The Badgers aren’t fooled, though. They understand that only makes the Purdue star even more dangerous as the Boilermakers (9-7, 2-2 Big Ten) visit the Kohl Center on Friday night for a game against UW (11-4, 3-1).
“My guess,” Badgers assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft said, “is he’s going to come in here thinking every shot is going in.”
Edwards, a junior guard, leads the Big Ten in scoring at 24.5 points per game. However, he’s tied for 10th in conference play at 17.8 points per game.
After going 3 of 16 in a 77-59 loss at No. 6 Michigan State on Tuesday night, Edwards is shooting 31.9 percent against Big Ten opponents. He’s 9 of 36 (25 percent) from 3-point range through four conference games.
Poor shot selection was partially to blame for Edwards’ struggles against Michigan State, according to Boilermakers coach Matt Painter. The Spartans also disrupted Edwards by using bigger players, 6-foot-5 senior guard Matt McQuaid and 6-6 freshman swingman Aaron Henry, to defend him.
If the Badgers try to do the same, it could fall on senior forward Khalil Iverson to serve as the primary defender against Edwards. Redshirt freshman wing Kobe King, Iverson’s backup, is another option.
“He’s a handful. He’s like one of the best players in the country,” Iverson said. “It’s going to have to be a team effort to slow him down.”
Purdue is No. 7 nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency. More than 40 percent of its scoring production comes from beyond the arc, with Edwards and senior guard Ryan Cline combining for 101 3-pointers through 15 games.
The Boilermakers didn’t start a player taller than 6-8 against Michigan State. That lineup could change against UW because junior forward Evan Boudreaux, a graduate transfer from Dartmouth, was limited to 10 minutes against the Spartans due to a groin injury.
Even if Boudreaux wasn’t injured, Trevion Williams might be a better fit against UW’s bigger lineup anyway. The 6-9 freshman registered his first career double-double in the loss to Michigan State, finishing with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Edwards, meanwhile, finished with a season-low 11 points against the Spartans after scoring at least 19 points in each of Purdue’s first 14 games. He also had four turnovers and no assists.
Still, the Badgers know they will have their hands full against Edwards. UW freshman guard Tai Strickland and former UW standout Bronson Koenig, who was playing professionally in Montenegro until last month, took turns filling Edwards’ role on the scout team in practice on Wednesday.
“Everybody tries to stop him. It’s a lot easier said than done, individually and as a team,” Krabbenhoft said. “We always stress team defense and not putting guys on an island, but Purdue does a good job of countering that and spreading you out and putting you in situations where it feels like you’re on an island. It’s a chess game.”
After being stranded at the Bryce Jordan Center for a few hours following their 71-52 win over Penn State on Sunday night, the Badgers’ charter flight landed back in Madison at 2:18 a.m. on Monday morning.
The delay was caused by a mechanical issue on the plane that was originally scheduled to transport the Badgers from State College to Dane County Regional Airport. Eventually, a new plane was sent from Miami, where the charter company with which UW works is based, to State College.
That plane loaded up the UW travel party and finally took off from University Airport at 1:35 Eastern time, about four hours after the Badgers had finished off their rout of the Nittany Lions.
Some players and staff members passed time after the game with a kickball game on the same court on which they had beaten Penn State. The Badgers had a scheduled off day on Monday and returned to practice the following day.
At first glance, it seemed odd the UW-Penn State game was in the final slot of three Big Ten games televised by the Big Ten Network on Sunday. After all, the Badgers had a far greater distance to travel than the other two road teams involved in those games — Illinois and Nebraska.
When reached Wednesday, Big Ten assistant commissioner for public affairs Kerry Kenny said multiple factors go into which games end up various time slots.
“When it comes to basketball scheduling — and I say this kind of lightly — it’s really complex,” Kenny said.
One of the reasons the Badgers ended up in the late game was because they didn’t have class the next day. UW’s spring semester doesn’t begin until Jan. 22.
“So even a late game in the Eastern time zone on a Sunday night, getting back late, they weren’t going to be in a missed-class situation on Monday morning,” Kenny said.
The game that appeared in the time slot immediately preceding the UW-Penn State matchup was Nebraska at Iowa. Nebraska did have class the following day, so it made sense for the Cornhuskers to be in an earlier game.
Another factor was the fact that UW’s next game isn’t until Friday and is at home. “There wasn’t a compression or a prep day issue that was created by that late start on Sunday,” Kenny said.
There was a third factor that was part of the discussion back in August, when the Big Ten schedule and start times were being mapped out.
“The other thing you have to keep in mind with early January from a TV network perspective is they have to take the NFL playoff schedule into consideration as well,” Kenny said. “At the time that we set the schedule back in August, obviously we don’t know anything about who’s going to make the playoffs, but traditionally the Packers and the Steelers, two teams that are in the same markets as Penn State and Wisconsin, have been perennial NFL playoff teams. So, trying to build the schedule around not having direct conflicts within those markets is something that BTN and the conference learned very early on in the scheduling process.”
As it turned out, the Packers and the Steelers each missed the postseason. Oddly enough, the other game in the BTN mix on Sunday ended up being the one that was the most impacted by the NFL.
There were three potential start times for Northwestern’s home game against Illinois up until the NFL playoff schedule was released. When the kickoff time for the Chicago Bears’ home game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday was announced, the Northwestern-Illinois game was moved to the early slot on BTN.
“It’s an art as much as a science with scheduling,” Kenny said.