Wisconsin at Purdue
Purdue puts its No. 3 national ranking, its share of the Big Ten lead and Division I’s second-longest win streak on the line Tuesday when it hosts Wisconsin. The Badgers were depleted by graduation in the offseason and have further been hampered by injuries, particularly in the backcourt, and given their current struggles at 9-9 overall, they are in definite danger of missing out on the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998.
As just mentioned, though, there have been a completely different set of headlines for the Boilermakers, who have reeled off 13 straight wins since back-to-back losses in the Nov. 22-24 Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas. Nine of those 13 victories have been by at least 12 points, including Saturday’s 81-47 road thrashing of Minnesota, and Purdue has now climbed to third in the current coaches’ poll, trailing only one-loss Villanova and Virginia. Sophomore guard/leading scorer Carsen Edwards and four senior starters lead the way for the Boilermakers, who own the nation’s best scoring margin at 22.3 points per game. “They’re playing with a great purpose,” Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said of Purdue after Saturday’s rout. “They coach themselves. Matt (Painter) is a terrific coach, but you can tell they’re coaching each other.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
ABOUT WISCONSIN (9-9, 2-3 Big Ten): The Badgers did get off to a 2-1 start in conference play but have dropped their last two games to less-than-formidable foes in Rutgers (64-60) and Nebraska (63-59). Forward Ethan Happ is pacing the squad in scoring (16.8 points per game), rebounding (8.6) and assists (3.4), and is the only major-conference player averaging at least 16 points, eight rebounds and three assists on the year. Freshman guard Brad Davison (12.1 points) is the only other player averaging double digits and is one of only two active guards on scholarship with Kobe King out for the season with a knee injury and D’Mitrik Trice (foot) sidelined indefinitely after undergoing foot surgery last month.
ABOUT PURDUE (17-2, 6-0): Forward Vincent Edwards scored a game- and season-high 25 points in only 29 minutes vs. Minnesota – thanks largely to a 5-of-7 performance from 3-point range – and is one of four Boilermakers averaging at least 13.3 points per outing. Carsen Edwards leads the way at 16.7 points and he and backcourt mate Dakota Mathias (13.3 points, team-leading 4.5 assists) have combined to connect on 92-of-221 (41.6 percent) 3-point attempts. Senior Isaac Haas, a 7-foot-2 center, is averaging 14.8 points and shooting 63.8 percent from the floor while Vincent Edwards is contributing 14.4 points and a team-most 8.2 rebounds.
1. Purdue has won the last three meetings and is 70-18 vs. Wisconsin in West Lafayette, Ind.
2. The Boilermakers and Saint Mary’s, of the West Coast Conference, are the only two Division I teams who had won 17 games as of Monday, and Purdue’s 17-2 start shares the best 19-game record in program history with its 1993-94 and 1987-88 counterparts.
3. Purdue ranks second in Big Ten field-goal percentage (50.0) while the Badgers bring up the rear in the conference in field-goal percentage defense (45.8).