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Wisconsin Opponent Preview: Purdue

How They Are Doing So Far:

Purdue is just 9-6 overall. The Boilermakers were supposed to compete with Michigan State for a Big Ten title, and they still may, but a 9-6 mark is not where Purdue fans expected to be. However, none of the six losses are that bad. They lost to Virginia Tech on a neutral floor and then lost at Florida State and at Michigan. In mid-December Purdue fell in back-to-back games at Texas and against Notre Dame on a neutral floor. And then most recently the Boilermakers fell at Michigan State. A Big Ten contender should be winning some of those games though.

 

Last Time Out:

There is no shame in losing at Michigan State. The Boilermakers hung around for a little while before the Spartans pulled away for a 13-point halftime lead and a 77-59 win. Purdue, for the first time all season, was not led in the scoring by Carsen Edwards. He managed just 11 points and went 2-of-13 from three-point territory. That was the first time Edwards was held to under 19 points this season. Ryan Cline and Trevion Williams scored 12 and 13 points, respectively, to keep Purdue within striking distance for at least part of the game. That was by far Williams’ best game of the year. The freshman played a career high 21 minutes and also set career highs with 13 points and 12 rebounds.

 

Who To Watch:

Carsen Edwards is clearly the player to watch. Through 15 games he is averaging 24.5 points per game and adds 3.2 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.3 steals. Just about every bucket goes through the 6-1 junior one way or another. Edwards is good enough at attacking the basket that the opposition cannot simply defend him on the perimeter. If they take a step back, Edwards will shoot it. If they defend him too tightly, Edwards will use his speed and strength and get to the basket. The problem is that Edwards can only do so much on his own. And, after last game, it remains to be seen if Edwards can come back and score closer to the 30 points he will need for Purdue to beat a team like Wisconsin.

 

Who Else To Watch:

A Purdue victory will come much easier if somebody else besides Carsen Edwards can score. Senior Ryan Cline has been the most consistent secondary scoring option so far this year. He is averaging 12.5 points per game, but Cline is also a pure shooter so when his shot is not falling, he is not scoring. Evan Boudreaux continues to do the dirty work in the paint, but he has not been scoring much lately. Matt Haarms, a 7-3 sophomore, makes a huge impact on the defensive end when he is on the floor. He has also started scoring more recently too, dropping a dozen points on Belmont before scoring 14 against Iowa before scoring four points against Michigan State. Of course, Trevion Williams is turning into an option now after his breakout performance against the Spartans.

 

Prediction:

If Edwards can rebound from his tough outing on Tuesday and Purdue can find somebody else to do a little scoring too, they can give Wisconsin some trouble. The Badgers are certainly a little vulnerable following their losses to Western Kentucky and Minnesota. The win at Penn State was nice, but Purdue is a much more challenging squad.

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