ACC-Big Ten Challenge
#17 Louisville Cardinals vs. Purdue Boilermakers
Mackey Arena, West Lafayette, Indiana (Purdue)
8:00 pm EST ESPN/Watch ESPN
Despite having a new head coach after everything that unfolded at the University of Louisville this offseason, the Cardinals have not been terrible so far. They have had some close calls this season and have looked sluggish controlling the pace of the game occasionally, but look very solid defensively in the paint. In their four games this season, they are averaging 43 rebounds per game and lead the nation with 9 blocks/game. Junior captain and starting forward, Deng Adel, has filled Donovan Mitchell’s shoes from last season by being the “go-to-guy” offensively for the Cards. In four games this season, he is averaging 17.5 PPG while shooting 54% from the field. He is only 3-15 from long-range this season and like many of his teammates, has struggled from outside the paint. As a team, Louisville is shooting 29-87 (33%) from long-range, which is below their 36% average from last season. Turnovers have also hurt Louisville this season offensively, as they average about 11 turnovers/game so far. On the defensive side of things, they are forcing about 15 turnovers a game. Louisville’s rapid pace of play defensively and ability to turn a turnover defensively into two-points at the other end of the court, as well as their shot-blocking, makes them a dangerous and lengthy team to go up against.
This past week down in the Bahamas did not go as Coach Matt Painter expected it to go. He saw his Boilermakers drop their first two games of the tournament against Tennessee and Western Kentucky, but rebound and beat an Arizona team who lost all three of their games in the Bahamas. After 7 games this season, Purdue finds themselves averaging 92 PPG (15th in the Nation) and are shooting 44% from 3-pt range (16th in the Nation). Not only are they scoring about 12 more points per game compared to last season, but are also shooting at a much higher percentage. Sophomore guard, Carsen Edwards, has been the life of this Purdue offense early on in the season, averaging 18 PPG, shooting 50% from the field and 42.5% from 3-pt range. Over their past three games, Purdue is making just more than 9 three-pointers/game and have not been as effective in the paint. Senior center, Isaac Haas, scored in double-figure in all three games in the Bahamas and has drawn a lot of attention in the paint, making the perimeter assessable for the Boilermakers. Purdue does not have the deepest of benches, which could hurt them against teams who push the pace of play, but are very poised offensively, making them a tough team to defend from the perimeter.
What to Watch For?
In this great matchup between Louisville and Purdue, watch out for Louisville’s freshmen and Purdue’s shooting. Louisville’s bench, which includes G Darius Perry, F Jordan Nwora, F Malik Williams, and F Dwayne Sutton, is a vital piece of their success and contributes to a lot of their scoring. Their bench has averaged 30.3 PPG so far this season, and have shot 44.4% from 3-pt range this season, 11% higher than their team average. Freshman Jordan Nwora has been the biggest contributor from the bench, averaging 10 PPG in about 14 minutes/game. Louisville’s bench sees to be forgotten about a lot, but will need to be handled by Purdue if the Boilermakers want to control the pace of the game and limit Louisville’s efficiency from the floor.
Purdue’s shooting and ability to score has led to their early season success. Despite losing to Tennessee and Western Kentucky, they still managed to make 8+ threes in those games. Purdue has shot 44% from long-range this season and has consistently been a threat from outside in all seven games this season. At times, they struggle to score in the paint outside of Isaac Haas, which could hurt them when they are not shooting well from outside. The Boilermakers heavily rely on the three-pointer right now and their free-throw shooting. As a team, they shoot 75.9% from the “charity-stripe” and find themselves there pretty often. If they can get Louisville’s bigs in foul trouble early, they could really make the Cardinals pay for their fouls.
Outlook and Prediction:
Louisville versus Purdue will not only give us insight on how well Louisville can play defense against a high octane offense, but will answer our questions about Purdue living and dying from the 3-point line. Louisville should not have a hard time defending the paint as Purdue is not that big of a team outside of Isaac Haas. Things could get interesting if Ray Spalding or Anas Mahmoud get in foul trouble early on in the game. If Louisville has to go to a smaller lineup early on in the game, Purdue will be able to attack the basket offensively without worrying about shot blockers. Look for Purdue to be aggressive early on in this one and look to push the tempo up the floor in transition. If they can beat the Cards down the court, they will be well on their way to a strong lead. For Louisville, their main challenge will be defensively as stated earlier. Their ability to force turnovers and and run in transition will be tested against Purdue this week. Purdue is susceptible to turnovers, turning the ball over about 13 times per game, which is something Louisville must take advantage of. Leaders Deng Adel and Quentin Snider will have to take command of the ball and run the offense through themselves for Louisville to shoot at a high percentage. The Cards’ bench versus Purdue’s bench will also be an interesting matchup. When the starters are not in the game, Louisville must seize the moment with Jordan Nwora and Darius Perry.
At the end of the day, I think we will see Louisville out-rebound Purdue by a slim margin and fore Purdue into double-digit turnovers. Purdue will wind up making 7-8 three-pointers for the game, but shoot 38% from the floor for the game as a result of Louisville’s height and ability to defend the paint. Louisville’s bench will outscore their starters in the game and Darius Perry will have a career day for Louisville leading them to a slight victory over Purdue in a low-scoring, high-volume shooting day.
Prediction: Louisville 75, Purdue 71
Darius Perry (LOU) : 20 points (3-4 from three-point)
Ray Spalding (LOU): 12 points, 10 rebounds
Carsen Edwards (PUR): 25 points (5-9 from three-point)
Isaac Haas (PUR): 10 points, 10 rebounds