Hoos v Boilermakers in the ACC-B1G Challenge
Virginia hits the road for its annual ACC-B1G Challenge assignment, an event in which Tony Bennett's club has had consistent success, but may be tested in this Elite Eight rematch. Many of the stars of that overtime thriller are gone, but the programs endure, and this could be a fantastic matchup. The Hoos will still be without Braxton Key but will welcome Kody Stattmann back healthy to the lineup.
|Date/Time:||Wednesday, December 4th, 7:15 pm ET|
|Location:||Mackey Arena, West Lafayette, IN|
What 'They' Say
|Vegas:||Virginia +2.5, O/U 102.5, equates to a ~53-50 Purdue win|
|Torvik:||Ranks Purdue #11, predicts a 51-49 Purdue win, 57% confidence|
|KenPom:||Ranks Purdue #13, predicts a 50-48 Purdue win, 55% confidence|
|PG||#2 Eric Hunter Jr., 6'4" 175, SO|
|31.6 mpg, 10.3 ppg, 3.7 apg, 28.0 3P%|
|SG||#3 Jahaad Proctor, 6'3" 205, SR|
|31.3 mpg, 14.6 ppg, 2.9 apg, 26.9 3P%|
|SF||#20 Nojel Eastern, 6'7" 225, JR|
|23.9 mpg, 3.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 39.4 FG%|
|PF||#1 Aaron Wheeler, 6'9" 205, SO|
|26.1 mpg, 6.4 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 28.6 FG%|
|C||#32 Matt Haarms, 7'3" 250, JR|
|23.6 mpg, 11.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 69.8 FG%|
|PG||#11 Isaiah Thompson, 6'1" 165, FR|
|18.0 mpg, 4.6 ppg, 0.9 apg, 36.0 3P%|
|G||#55 Sasha Stefanovic, 6'4" 195, SO|
|18.8 mpg, 6.7 ppg, 0.7 apg, 39.3 3P%|
|F||#12 Evan Boudreaux, 6'8" 220, SR|
|13.3 mpg, 4.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 34.6 FG%|
|C||#50 Trevion Williams, 6'9" 270, SO|
|14.3 mpg, 7.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 75.0 FG%|
The ABC's of Purdue:
A) They've replaced their backcourt. We all watched that Elite Eight game and got intimately familiar with Purdue's guards Carsen Edwards, Ryan Cline, and Grady Eifert. All three are gone to the pros or graduation. Taking over for Edwards as the dominant scorer is High Point grad-transfer Jahaad Proctor, while along side him are two former role players stepping into starting roles in sophomore PG Hunter and junior wing Eastern. Hunter especially has shined in his expanded role, averaging double-digit points so far while leading the team in assists.
B) They've got incredible size. The Hoos have been spoiled so far this year, being able to overpower other teams with a great trio of bigs who can use their strength and length to dominate the paint on both ends of the floor. Purdue says "hold my beer." Starting at the 5-spot is the 7'3" junior Haarms, with the 270 lb sophomore Williams backing him up. At the 4-spot, Wheeler is using his 6'9" frame to dominate the glass while both Boudreaux and Eastern have excellent size at the 3/4. They're 37th nationally in block rate, and top 100 in 2P% defense, effectively controlling the defensive glass and attacking the offensive boards. With Braxton out, UVA is going to have to learn how to win as the small team, especially if it can't count on big contributions from McKoy or Caffaro, both of whom were total non-factors against Maine.
C) They play slow, grinding games as well. Just like when the leagues and ESPN pit us against Wisconsin in the Challenge to underscore the brutality of our styles, they're doing so again with the Boilermakers. Purdue is 348th nationally in tempo per KenPom, almost as slow as we are, on both ends of the floor. They're 323rd (bottom 10%) in offensive pace, and their half-court defense is stifling. They have the 7th best defense per KenPom (Adj DRtg of 87.3), and rather than do it with pressure and turnovers, they're happy to sit back in a traditional man defense and wear opponents down over the course of the shot clock.
Their Season To Date
Purdue is 4-3 on the year, having played a very demanding schedule with four P5 opponents already faced. They dropped early tests to Texas (by 4 at home) and Marquette (by 10 on the road) before traveling to Florida last week for the Emerald Coast Classic. Purdue started the event by beating a ranked VCU by 3 before dropping the title game in overtime to Florida State.
Keys to getting the win:
1) Don't get beat on the glass. You'll notice I didn't use my usual verbiage, "control the glass," because I harbor zero expectations we dominate Purdue on the boards. Matt Haarms, Trevion Williams, and Aaron Wheeler are just too good a front line to expect UVA sans Braxton Key to really get a plus performance here. But even in Key's absence, it's going to be critical that Jay, Mamadi, McKoy, and Caffaro at least limit the damage Purdue can do to UVA with second chance points. Purdue's one of the nation's best going to the offensive glass, ranking 5th nationally in OR% at a staggering 39.9%, and while the Pack Line may force a lot of first-shot misses, Purdue will be expecting its second chances to carry the day. I'm hoping to keep Purdue's O-Rebound count in the single digits.
2) Pressure their backcourt. Hunter and Proctor have been leading the charge for the Boilermakers, and it's going to be incumbent on Kihei Clark and Casey Morsell to man these two up and make life difficult for them. They're already struggling shooting the ball (28 and 27%, respectively), but have managed to post plus ORtgs by virtue of their facilitation and drawn free throws. Virginia needs to be able to shut down at least one of these two, both in their scoring and in their ball handling / distribution, to prevent the Purdue offense from finding enough rhythm against the Pack Line to get the job done.
3) Our guards need to finally dial in. We've been saying for the last couple weeks that our defense will carry us against a lot of our schedule, but at some point our guards are going to need to step up offensively or we'll fail to outscore a good team. We needed Morsell to survive against Arizona State, and we'll need probably two of the guards to be plus scorers to have a chance in this one. Purdue's size and comfort in the half-court makes them uniquely suited to neutralize our big men scoring. Not to say Jay and Mamadi won't do some damage, but I highly doubt they carry us by themselves. Purdue is one of the nation's best at defending the 3-point line, holding teams to a collective 27% (24th nationally), so asking our guards to get hot is a very tall task; it needs to be done regardless.
The Hoos are on a five-game winning streak in the B1G Challenge, last losing in 2013 on the road in Wisconsin, and since dispatching Ohio State (twice), Maryland (twice), and Wisconsin. This road date may prove a bridge too far, however. When our Big 4 are healthy, we're an incredibly tough out for even the best of opponents. But Key is such a critical part of our versatility, and against Purdue's jumbo lineup, his size and rebounding was going to be very important.Additionally, UVA's been able to overcome its poor 3-point shooting this year by scoring effectively with its bigs in the paint. Again, with Purdue's size, the ability for Huff and Diakite to efficiently score at the rim is going to be tested. This is the kind of game we need our guards to win for us on offense, and given the offensive struggles to date, I'm not ready to bet that they do it.
Purdue Wins 55-49