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Friday, January 25, 2008

A Closer Look: Purdue

Purdue Boilermakers 14-5 (5-1, T-3rd)

Team Capsule:
Home Record: 10-1 Away: 2-3
Pomeroy Rank: 38 RPI: 75 SOS: 152
Efficiency: Offense= 107.9 (82nd) Defense= 89.2 (24th)
*RPI and Efficiency stats taken from KenPom.com

Best wins:
Indiana State 71-60
Louisville (@ Indianapolis) 67-59
Ohio State 75-68

Worst loss:
Wofford 66-69

"Good" losses:
@ Clemson 58-61
@ Michigan State 75-78

The surprise team so far this conference season could very well be the Purdue Boilermakers. The young Boilermakers finished their non-conference schedule with a 9-4 record but have since found their stride winning 7 of their last 8 including 5 out of 6 in Big Ten play to find themselves tied for 3rd in the conference. Purdue will host Wisconsin on Saturday in what will be one of the biggest games played in Mackey Arena in recent years. Many fans around the country and even Big Ten fans will most likely be getting their first glimpse of Purdue, so before the big game let's take a closer look at the Boilermakers.

Purdue starts two freshman, two sophomores and a junior as Matt Painter coaches the youngest team in the Big Ten. The Boilermakers are a very inexperienced, talented and balanced team. The team's leading scorer Keaton Grant averages 11.6 points per game and is one of three starters who average double-digits. Robbie Hummel averages 10.7 PPG and is the team's leading rebounder with 6.0 rebounds per game. Freshman E'Twann Moore averages 10.0 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.

The most impressive offensive stat for this year's Purdue team would be their turnover ratio. The Boilermakers have a turnover percentage of 19.1, which ranks 44th best in the nation. This means that Purdue turns the ball over on 19.1% of their offensive possessions, which is actually quite good for such a young team with no "true" point guard. Compare that ratio to that of Michigan State (21.7) and Iowa (25.4) which rank 10th and 11th in the conference in TO %. The Boilermakers rank 3rd in the Big Ten in that stat.

The Purdue defense also forces turnovers a high clip. The Boilers defensive turnover ratio is 26.0% which ranks 17th nationally. Overall, Purdue's defensive efficiency ranks 24th best in the NCAAs. Defensive efficiency is defined as points allowed per 100 possessions. This tempo-free stat is a much better measure of a team's defensive abilities than just looking at overall points allowed per game.

If Purdue can continue to play solid defense and forcing opponents into a high number of turnovers while taking care of the ball themselves on offense, they will find themselves dancing come March. A win at home on Saturday over Wisconsin would not only put the Boilers in great position for a postseason bid, but it would also jump Purdue into the national spotlight and Big Ten title race. Win or lose, a "closer look" at this young, overachieving Purdue team was long overdue.

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