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What to expect from Purdue vs. Wisconsin

Plus a Q&A with Hammer and Rails.

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

After a dominant victory against Penn State to start the week, the now-unranked Wisconsin Badgers welcome the Purdue Boilermakers to the Kohl Center on Friday night.

Wisconsin (11-4, 3-1 Big Ten) will face a Purdue squad coming off a rough 77-59 loss at Michigan State earlier this week. For that matter, the Boilermakers are looking for their first true road victory of the season after losing their first four away contests.

The big name to watch for Purdue (9-6, 2-2) is guard Carsen Edwards, who averages 24.5 points per game and will take quite the effort from Wisconsin to contain.

Purdue leads the all-time series 108-71, though the programs have split the last 30 contests.

Purdue team stats

  • Points per game: 77.6
  • Opponents’ points per game: 69.3
  • Field goal percentage: 45.2
  • Opponent field goal percentage: 43.3
  • Three-point percentage: 36.2
  • Opponent three-point percentage: 36.6
  • Free throw percentage: 73.1
  • Turnovers per game: 11.1
  • NCAA NET ranking: 24

Key stats

  • Team rank: 17
  • Adjusted offensive efficiency: 117.0 (seventh in nation)
  • Adjusted defensive efficiency: 97.5 (75th in nation)
  • Offensive effective field goal percentage: 53.7 (69th in nation)
  • Defensive effective field goal percentage: 51.6 (214th in nation)
  • Offensive turnover percentage: 16.3 (32nd in nation)
  • Offensive rebound percentage: 35.2 (28th in nation)
  • Defensive rebound percentage: 26.6 (98th in nation)
  • Offensive free throws attempted/Field goals attempted: 26.3 (319th in nation)
  • Three-point percentage: 36.2 (86th in nation)
  • Defensive three-point percentage: 36.6 (283rd in nation)
  • Defensive free-throw percentage: 76.9 (347th in nation)
  • Offensive steal percentage: 7.0 (20th in nation)
  • Best win: 62-60 win vs. Maryland (21st in KenPom)
  • Worst loss: 88-80 loss vs Notre Dame (74th in KenPom)

Possible Purdue starters

Purdue head coach Matt Painter announced on Thursday that junior forward Evan Boudreaux will not play vs. Wisconsin.

  • Senior forward Grady Eifert: 4.5 points per game; 5.2 rebounds per game; 1.4 assists per game
  • Junior guard Carsen Edwards: 24.5 points per game; 3.1 rebounds per game; 3.2 assists per game
  • Senior guard Ryan Cline: 12.5 points per game; 2.8 rebounds per game; 3.6 assists per game
  • Sophomore guard Nojel Eastern: 5.8 points per game; 4.1 rebounds per game; 2.1 assists per game

To help us break down the Boilermakers’ 2018-19 campaign so far through 15 games, Travis Miller from Hammer and Rails answered our questions.

This is not an easy week for Purdue, as it comes off a rough loss to Michigan State and then has to face Wisconsin. What has been the general feeling about the Boilermakers’ season so far with a 9-6 overall start, 2-2 in the conference?

It has been a frustrating season because we have been pretty much in every game. Even at MSU, we were only down four with 10:29 left, but hit only one field goal the rest of the way. We definitely let games against Virginia Tech, Texas, and Florida State slip away, and for different reasons. Against Virginia Tech, our defense was terrible down the stretch. Against Florida State, Carsen Edwards had a bad game and we still let an eight-point lead at the final media timeout slip away. At Texas, Carsen dropped 40, but everyone else was pretty awful.

We’re a team that is close, but still young and inexperienced. We have a vocal part of our fanbase frustrated with head coach Matt Painter because of the dropoff from last year, but I think we might even be ahead of schedule considering how much we lost. This team has shown it can play really well and really poorly, sometimes in the same game. Michigan is the only team that truly dominated us from start to finish, and they are playing some of the best basketball in the country. I still think we’re close, but our lack of consistency is an issue.

Who guards Ethan Happ and how effective can he/they be?

This will be interesting, as Matt Haarms has played really well of late but was in foul trouble at Michigan. Trevion Williams had a fantastic game at MSU and has really come on as a poor man’s Caleb Swanigan. He did not play a ton before late against Notre Dame, but has been a nice bright spot for us. Evan Boudreaux injured his groin against Michigan State and has not been great defensively. I’d imagine it will be some combination of those three with Haarms having the best chance.

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Michigan State
Jan 8, 2019; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans forward Nick Ward (44) is defended by Purdue Boilermakers center Matt Haarms (32) during the second half of a game at the Breslin Center.
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

We have to talk about Carsen Edwards, who currently ranks seventh in the KenPom Player of the Year standings. What makes him so dangerous, and has his game changed any this season?

Carsen can catch fire any night, but Michigan State really frustrated him. Their size allowed them to get physical and deny him from attacking the basket. He settled for a lot of threes and had a really off night. It was probably his worst game of the year. That said, he was incredible against Texas and almost singlehandedly dragged us to a win there. I think he needs to be in the 20-25 per night range [scoring] with help for us to be at our best. We can’t rely solely on him. We need everyone working together like we did against Iowa last week. That was probably our best game of the season.

Ryan Cline is the only other Purdue player to average double-figures in scoring, but who do you feel will give Wisconsin trouble on Friday night? Vice versa, which Badgers will give the Boilermakers fits inside the Kohl Center?

Purdue has greatly struggled defending the three and is the worst in the conference. We lost to Texas, Virginia Tech, and Notre Dame because they shot well above their team percentage from three. That gives me concern for D’Mitrik Trice and Brad Davison. A big reason we lost to Michigan State was that they hit six threes following an offensive rebound, so that inside-out game that Happ likes to run is dangerous.

For Purdue, Cline can be hot and cold. He could easily hit seven threes and have 21 points, or he could shoot 1-for-10. I think we need consistent 5-7 pp. performances from the likes of Aaron Wheeler, Eric Hunter, Grady Eifert, and more. Williams is coming off of his best game, but we simply need more out of everyone to compliment Carsen and open things up.

Who ya got coming out of Madison with a W?

I think this is a critical turning point game for us. We have been so close and have proven we can play with anyone, but at some point we have to get one of these games. Painter has always done well in Madison, perhaps the best of anyone in the conference compared to your overall homecourt advantage. A lackluster game there last year cost us the Big Ten title, too. I think we’ll be motivated and can pull out a close one because I think it is key to our NCAA hopes.