BoilerUpload – Game Preview – #1 Purdue vs Iowa
#1 Purdue and the #1 ranked offense will face a growing Iowa team and the #2 offense in the country.
The Boilermakers maintained the No. 1 ranking despite losing at IU on Saturday, and will now look to avenge that loss with a win against the #2 offense in the country according to Kenpom, the Iowa Hawkeyes.
The Hawkeyes are on the rise, three straight winners, and playing the best basketball of their season. They have won three games in a row at home against Rutgers, Northwestern and Illinois. They will now have to travel for back-to-back games. First a visit to the Mackey Arena to take on the best team in the Big Ten, Purdue, and then to Minnesota, where they take on the worst team in the Big Ten on Sunday.
Purdue is coming off a disappointing loss to their Bloomington rivals. It was their second straight loss at Assembly Hall after 9 straight wins against the Hoosiers before last year’s loss at IU. It’s only Purdue’s second loss of the season.
This will be the only matchup between these two teams in the regular season. Purdue won both regular season games last year before losing to Iowa in the Big Ten Tournament Title Game.
Zach Edey remains the favorite to win National Player of the Year and Big Ten Player of the Year.
In a normal year, Kris Murray would get a lot of attention as a potential player of the year. The Iowa star, and brother of Keegan Murray, had something of a coming-out party in Iowa’s first game against Purdue last year when he scored a then-record 23 points. Turns out that game foreshadowed what Murray was capable of.
Murray averages over 20 points per game in his Junior season.
While Iowa and Purdue have the same offensive rating at the top of Kenpom’s offense rating system, they couldn’t be more different in style. Purdue wants to play the half court and has the 331st fastest adjusted pace in the country. Wanting to run and into space, Iowa has the 16th lowest average possession length on average.
Offensive dichotomy will reign when Iowa’s fast-paced offense meets the methodical half-court sets of Zach Edey and Purdue.
Fran on Purdue
Fran McCaffery is no stranger to Mackey Arena right now.
Lately, that familiarity hasn’t served McCaffery well. Purdue has won its last four games against Iowa at Mackey Arena by a total of 81 points. He knows that this year won’t get much easier to take on the number 1 team in the country.
“They’re not a foul team. They’re defending,” he said Tuesday prior to his trip to West Lafayette. “They’re a very connected group. You can see it. You have two freshman guards who play really well and you have some veterans of the bench who accept their roles and excel in their roles.”
This touches on what Tom Izzo says is the most impressive part of Coach Painter’s job this season, getting his players to fit into their roles.
Of course, it all stops and ends with the big man in for Purdue.
“He’s gotten a lot better at playing in traffic,” McCaffery said of how Edey has developed from the first time he saw him.
Iowa has leaned on their one big man, Filip Rebraca, to take a bigger role on offense and anchor the defense. The senior plays 10 minutes more this season than last season, and his efficiency and play have improved at every level after seeing his minutes reduced in his junior year.
Rebraca is at a physical disadvantage against the 7-4 Zach Edey. Stop if you’ve heard that before.
The underpowered center has been critical to Iowa’s success, playing one minute into the Hawkeyes’ two-point victory against Illinois on Saturday.
He moves willpower on the field and could have the speed advantage against Edey, but a possible on-camera Freudian misstep underlies what is arguably Hawkeyes’ biggest disadvantage against Purdue.
“And then just run too,” Rebraca said of using Edey’s size against him. Then he went on to say this: “If we get a plate – I mean when, not if.”
While that’s obviously a slip of the tongue, Edey single-handedly beat a Big Ten team at home this season when he went for 22 rebounds against Minnesota. Minnesota gives up 31% of defensive rebound opportunities for offense. Iowa is at 29%.
Edey grabs nearly 23% of Purdue misses while on the floor. He is the best offensive rebounder in the country and Purdue is the best offensive rebound team in the country. They grab 38.7% of their misses and are the 15th best defensive rebound team.
Paint on Iowa
“They really got you into trouble with the way they can attack you in transition with all that skill,” Matt Painter said Wednesday, a day before #1 Purdue receives an Iowa team on a three-game win streak.
Both Purdue and Iowa are efficient offenses, the most efficient offenses in the country according to KenPom, but the teams go about it in different ways. Purdue likes to be methodical, researching defenses and doing smart sets to get their star Zach Edey as many clean looks in the post as possible. The difference between the two teams this season is that Purdue has been able to defend, while Iowa has shown a lack of interest or execution on that side of the ball at times this season.
That said, Purdue just had their worst defensive performance of the season. In particular, they gave up 50 first-half points to Indiana after not giving up more than 70 points in an entire game before. Purdue will have to be better at home to slow down a powerful and fast-paced attack in Iowa.
“You have to be ready to score the basketball because you know they are,” said Matt Painter. “And that’s our goal. Our goal is to slow them down. I don’t know if you can stop them in the end. You have to be able to slow them down and not let them steal points.”
That was something Purdue did too many times in IU, flipping the ball 11 times in the first half, fueling IU’s offense with quick break points.
He is not his brother, but Kris Murray has taken on the role of Iowa’s best player released by Keegan Murray who went to the NBA and was as impressive as Iowa’s leading scorer. Before Kris Murray was this good for an entire season, he was so good against Purdue. Kris had a season high against Purdue last year, scoring 23 points in 24 minutes.
“Not just looking at them individually, but the kind of actions they perform as a team,” Caleb Furst told me Wednesday of his team’s focus on limiting Kris Murray and his impact on the game after drawing the difficult brief to try and stop Trayce Jackson-Davis.
“It’s the kind of speed they play at,” Furst continued about what makes Iowa’s defense as a whole hard to defend.
Kris’ versatility is perhaps his most advantageous skill, as Iowa only has one traditional major, Murray is a possible candidate to slide down and play on the five. While the disadvantage against Edey is obvious, it could also force Matt Painter on the other side into some tough defensive assignments.
“Normally we just put him on the guy who we think is less likely to hurt us, but there’s still a downside. Just like there’s an advantage on the other side of the field,” Matt Painter said of the matching Edey with smaller setups. “It’s like playing cards, you have to turn the deck over [in your favor.]”
Not so free throws
This game may be fast.
Purdue and Iowa share a big offense, but they’re also among the least error-prone teams in the country. Purdue gives up the fewest free throw attempts compared to field goal attempts against them. Iowa is the third best at keeping players off the free throw line.
Both offenses were good, but not great for getting to the line, but potential free throw edges are obvious. Zach Edey is the top post player in the nation who will have 7 inches on his primary defenseman.
He makes 6.7 fouls per 40 minutes, the 23rd best score in the country.
For Iowa, Filip Rebraca commits 5.1 errors per 40 minutes on his side and Tony Perkins is coming off a 16 free throw game where he hit 15 against Illinois.