Battle for Hoosier State Supremecy: A Preview By the Numbers

Posted by Brendan Brody & Alex Moscoso on February 15th, 2014

Heading into Saturday’s game in West Lafayette, Indiana and Purdue both currently sit in the bottom third of the Big Ten standings with matching 4-7 conference records. In addition to playing for state bragging rights in one of the best Big Ten rivalries, both teams are clinging to quickly fading NCAA Tournament hopes. Brendan Brody and Alex Moscoso decided to look at some key numbers for the upcoming game in the form of predicting some over/unders to try to figure out who will come away with the win on Saturday afternoon (4:00 PM EST, ESPN).

Yogi Ferrell needs to score and distribute for Indiana to beat their in-state rival. (Darron Cummings, AP)

Yogi Ferrell needs to score and distribute for Indiana to beat their in-state rival. (Darron Cummings, AP)

Yogi Ferrell over/under 25 points+assists

Alex Moscoso: I’m definitely taking the over. Ferrell is a fantastic college player because he comes up big when Indiana needs him the most. When the Hoosiers upset then-undefeated Wisconsin a few weeks ago, the sophomore put up 25 points and four assists. Against Michigan (undefeated at the time in Big Ten play), he put up 27 points and a couple of assists. Now, his team needs him to step up to get to the right side of the bubble, and I think he’ll deliver.

AJ Hammons over/under 10 rebounds

Brendan Brody: Hammons will have fewer than 10 rebounds in this one. Indiana has outrebounded its opponent in each of their last five games. They’ve also only allowed one player (Jordan Morgan) to grab double-figure boards against them in those games. Purdue does do a pretty good job cleaning the glass, especially on the offensive end, but the combination of Indiana’s rebounding prowess and the potential for Hammons to be in foul trouble at some point in the game makes the prediction 10+ boards too risky.

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Three Keys to Ohio State at Purdue Today

Posted by Jonathan Batuello on December 31st, 2013

Big Ten play is here and it gets started today with No. 3 Ohio State‘s trip to West Lafayette to take on Purdue at 1:00 PM ET. The Buckeyes are still undefeated and Purdue has had its struggles in the non-conference season, but the Boilermakers are coming off their most impressive win at West Virginia nine days ago. The match-up will be Ohio State’s second road game of the season, but the first since its trip to Marquette before Thanksgiving (although it should be noted that Purdue students will still be off campus on break, so the crowd may not be as raucous as normal). The Buckeyes need the win to stay near the top of the national rankings and make an early statement that it is the favorite to win the conference. Purdue needs any and all marquee wins to help boost its NCAA Tournament resume, which boasts an 11-3 record but no truly quality victories yet. Here are three keys to this year’s Big Ten season opener. Happy new year, everyone!

Shannon Scott and Ronnie Johnson open up Big Ten play this year against one another and the guards are both key to their team's success (Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports).

Shannon Scott and Ronnie Johnson open up Big Ten play this year against one another and the guards are both key to their team’s success (Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports).

  1. Can Purdue’s guards penetrate and score on Ohio State’s spectacular defense? The Buckeyes’ defense is one of the very best — if not the best — in the country. It leads the country in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom, and is among the best in scoring defense and opponents’ field goal percentage. With Aaron Craft, Shannon Scott and Lenzelle Smith Jr. leading the charge, Purdue will have to manage to find some offense from its trio of slashing guards. The Johnsons and Bryson Scott need to get to the basket and take smart shots, not just go into the lane with reckless abandon to take a leaning, prayer of a floater that has no chance to drop in the basket. Such drives, if performed successfully, will open up lanes for dropoff passes to AJ Hammons, Jay Simpson and the other players cutting to the basket. Without good penetration opportunities today, Purdue’s offense will go stagnant and the Boilermakers will struggle to reach 50 points in the game (leaving almost no chance to win). Read the rest of this entry »
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Youthful Purdue Still Seeking Some Level of Consistency

Posted by Walker Carey on December 5th, 2013

Walker Carey is an RTC Correspondent. He filed this report after Wednesday night’s game in West Lafayette between Boston College and Purdue.

The 2012-13 season marked the first time in five years that Purdue did not suit up any of the fantastic Robbie Hummel, E’Twaun Moore, and JaJuan Johnson class – a group that brought great success to the program and concluded its time in West Lafayette with all three players’ jerseys in the rafters. Consequently, that campaign was widely expected to be a rebuilding year. Those expectations turned out to be accurate, as Matt Painter’s squad struggled to a 16-18 record that resulted in the school missing out on the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006. Not all was lost for Purdue during the losing season, though, as its lack of veteran depth allowed freshmen Ronnie Johnson, Rapheal Davis, and A.J. Hammons to gain significant experience they likely would not have garnered on a veteran team.

Purdue coach Matt Painter has had to rely on a bevy of young talent. (AP)

Purdue coach Matt Painter has had to rely on a bevy of young talent. (AP)

Purdue’s youth movement from last season has carried over into this one. While the now-experienced Johnson, Davis, Hammons, and senior guard Terone Johnson are key pieces to the puzzle, Painter’s squad once again has several freshmen who are providing the team with a significant boost. Guard Kendall Stephens – known for his shooting prowess – stepped into the starting lineup in his first game on campus and has since started eight of nine. Fellow freshman guard Bryson Scott entered Wednesday’s game as the team’s third-leading scorer despite only playing 17.3 minutes a night. Freshmen forward Basil Smotherman has not played as many minutes as Stephens or Scott, but he entered Wednesday evening shooting a very impressive 64.3 percent (16-of-28) from the field and has also shown he is capable of some high-flying theatrics.

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Purdue Gets First Chance For Marquee Win Against Oklahoma State

Posted by Jonathan Batuello on November 28th, 2013

It hasn’t been an ideal start for Purdue, but none of that will matter against No. 5 Oklahoma State this Thanksgiving day. The Boilermakers haven’t been dominant yet this season, but they have overcome some early rebounding troubles to remain undefeated through five games. As turkeys are going into the ovens a bit later today, Matt Painter‘s team will take the floor in its first chance at a resume-building win in the first game of the Old Spice Classic. For a team hopeful to return the NCAA Tournament, a win over Oklahoma State would be a statement win by itself, and guarantee two other games against quality competition (Butler, Memphis, LSU and St. Joseph’s highlight the other top teams in the event). Travis Ford’s team has been very impressive early, averaging more than 100 PPG as the Cowboys have demolished every team it has faced, including Memphis by 21 in Stillwater. For the whole tournament, fellow RTC writer Max Jakubowski projects a seventh place finish for Purdue in the event. Second-to-last wouldn’t exactly be a strong performance for Purdue, but let’s look at some keys for Purdue to have any shot at pulling the stunning upset at Noon ET today.

Matt Painter's team has its first chance for a big win on Thanksgiving against No. 5 Oklahoma State.

Matt Painter’s team has its first chance for a big win on Thanksgiving against No. 5 Oklahoma State.

  • AJ Hammons and Jay Simpson Dominate Inside. It’d be easy to start with Marcus Smart, but realistically, Purdue isn’t going to stop him. So let’s focus first on Purdue’s biggest advantage with its height and big men inside. The Cowboys don’t have a particularly large front line and it’s top players are guards, which means that the Boilermakers need to go inside early and often in this game. If Hammons and Simpson don’t have big games, it could get out of hand very quickly. Read the rest of this entry »
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Big Ten M5: 11.26.13 Edition

Posted by Alex Moscoso on November 26th, 2013


  1. Minnesota, under the leadership of first-year head coach Richard Pitino, has had a hot start to the season. They have won their first five games which includes an impressive road game at Richmond. As nice as their start has been, the Gophers ran into reality when they lost 75-67 to #8 ranked Syracuse in their first-round game at the Maui Invitational. As we mentioned in yesterday’s M5, the term “good loss” gets thrown around a lot, but if there is such a thing, then this game might classify as such for Pitino’s squad. The Gophers were competitive throughout the contest and only down a basket with less than three minutes to go to a top-ten team on national television in one of the premier non-conference tournaments. If they can beat Arkansas today and win the next game, they’ll leave the Maui 2-1;  a successful tournament for Minnesota by any measure.
  2. We have had some big performances from some notable Big Ten players this season thus far – players like Gary Harris, Andre Hollins, Nik Stauskas, etc. So when Frank Kaminksy was named Big Ten Player of the Week yesterday, it stuck out since most haven’t heard of the junior big man from Wisconsin before his offensive outburst last week. Kaminsky is, at best, the fourth best scoring option for the Badgers – behind Sam Dekker, John Gasser, and Ben Brust. Bo Ryan was merely hoping Kaminsky would be able to improve his rebounding enough to make up for the loss Jared Berggren. But Kaminsky averaged 26 points and 4.7 rebounds last week, which includes a 43-point showing against North Dakota. If you can believe it, Wisconsin is averaging over 80 PPG. There’s no doubt that having four players who can possibly fill it up is a major reason for their new high-powered offense.
  3. The rubber is about to meet the road for Iowa. Since the preseason, they have had a lot of hype because of all their returning players. Thus far, they have lived up to the hype behind a high-powered offense and for their troubles, they were ranked in the AP poll (#25) this week, the first time since 2006. But all of their wins have come against inferior mid-major opponents. Yesterday, they flew to down to the Bahamas where they will participate in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. Fran McCaffery says they are treating this like a business trip. They will need to be all business when they meet undefeated Xavier on Thursday. The Musketeers will be Iowa’s first real test against a high-major team with an NBA-level stud in Semaj Christon. Last year, Iowa was punished by the NCAA selection committee for not having a challenging non-conference schedule. With other teams like Kansas, Tennessee, and Villanova also in the Battle 4 Atlantis, that will not be the case this year.
  4. Purdue is desperately trying to avoid missing consecutive NCAA tournaments since 2004-2006. They are not off to the steadiest of starts despite their undefeated record. One facet of their game where the Boilermakers are steady is leadership. Senior guard Terone Johnson is the leader of this team and is setting the right tone for Purdue. He just recently scored 1,000 career points which makes him the 47th player to do so in the school’s history. But Johnson has never measured success in personal accomplishments. He wants the Boilermakers to challenge for the Big Ten title in his final season. While most don’t see this as a realistic goal, in order to at least make the tournament, Johnson is going to need to exercise some of his leadership on his younger teammates. Specifically, he will need to motivate sophomore big man A.J. Hammons to exert full effort throughout the game and avoid foul trouble if they are to return to being Big Ten contenders.
  5. Just three years ago, Jereme Richmond was being billed as the key component to returning Illinois back to Big Ten contenders. He had just finished a prolific high school career and was about to take Champaign by storm before heading to the NBA. Now, Richmond is about to spend significant time in jail. Yesterday, he was sentenced to three years for threatening his parole officer. His downward spiral has been as fast as it has been sad. Richmond does not come from a typical broken home. He has two parents who have, at least stated publicly, wanted to keep a level head on him in the face of his recruitment by universities since before he started high school. The only takeaway from this sad story may be that no matter how talented someone may be, it can all come apart with a handful of bad decisions.
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Who’s the Best 3-Point Shooter in the Big Ten? An Analytical Look…

Posted by Alex Moscoso (@AlexPMoscoso) on November 5th, 2013

The title of this post asks a pretty straightforward question: Who is the best shooter from deep in the Big Ten? Seems simple enough. But how do you define the “best” three-point shooter? Is it the player who makes the most threes? Is it the player who makes the highest percentage of his threes? Is it the shooting specialist who contributes the most to his team’s wins?  The best approach, of course, is to appreciate all three characteristics. So let’s do exactly that and look into the numbers.

Andre Hollins lit it up from deep last year.

Andre Hollins lit it up from deep last year. (AP)

First, we need to create a list of players in the Big Ten who meet certain criteria. For the purpose of this analysis, we will only include returning Big Ten players and use last season’s statistics for measurement. While we recognize that freshmen can be highly effective from long range right out of the gate — look no further than Michigan sophomore Nik Stauskas last year — we have no set methodology for projecting freshman output from their high school performance. Therefore, in the interest of convenience, no freshmen are included in this list. The next criterion is that players must have attempted at least 100 3-pointers last season and shot at least 30 percent from deep. This filters out players with a high percentage from a small sample size of 3-point attempts and gunners who put up too many bricks to be considered top-tier shooters.

The table below displays our initial list of candidates given those criteria, and their pertinent statistics from the 2012-13 season (from

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Purdue Needs to Feature AJ Hammons to Realize Its Potential

Posted by Brendan Brody on October 28th, 2013

It would probably be a bit of a stretch to say that the days of needing a dominant, back-to-the-basket, seven-foot behemoth to win at the highest levels of basketball are over. That said, the game is seemingly getting smaller and quicker, and there are fewer teams who function with a traditional center. The teams last year in the Big Ten that went the furthest all had size, but you could hardly say that Cody Zeller, Adreian Payne, or Mitch McGary played like normal fives. Purdue is not one of those teams, however, as its second leading scorer and leading rebounder  in 2012-13 is a projected first round draft pick by the name of A.J. Hammons. Hammons is not a new age pick-and-pop big man, as evidenced by his grand total of zero three-pointers attempted so far in his lone year in West Lafayette. He is, however, a 7’0″, 251-pound load on the low blocks who will be the determining factor as to whether Purdue can rebound from a 16-18 season coming on the heels of six straight 20-win campaigns before that.


Hammons Isn’t a New Age Big Man By Any Stretch

My colleague already covered how Purdue desperately needs to improve from behind the arc. Guards like Ronnie Johnson, Terone Johnson and transfer Sterling Carter need to improve from distance, but the Boilermakers need to take advantage of Hammons and keep getting him the ball if they really want to be successful this season. Hammons was 12th in the league in usage rate last season, tying teammate Ronnie Johnson at 24.9 percent. For Purdue to improve, he needs to be around the 27 to 28 percent range. For some perspective, Trey Burke was nearly at 30 percent last season. A team’s best player should be using the most offensive possessions, even if he is not a ball-handler. This may be a bit too simple, but big guys like to get the ball. If they’re to be expected to bang bodies all game long , they’d like to get rewarded for their troubles. If they are rewarded, they will be more inclined to be more active defensively and generally more engaged when it comes thankless tasks like setting screens and help defense.

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On the Importance of Purdue’s Three-Point Shooting This Season

Posted by Jonathan Batuello on October 24th, 2013

AJ Hammons has received plenty of talk regarding Purdue basketball coming into this season. It’s easy to understand why, because with a consistent effort and big year, the center could be headed for the NBA Draft next summer. His offensive production, though, isn’t as important for Matt Painter’s team as its ability to find some 3-point shooting. The Boilermakers will need to keep defenses from sagging down to protect the rim against Hammons, and right now, their outside shooting is a huge question mark.

AJ Hammons is getting plenty of press, but Purdue's 3-point shooting will be key this season (AP)

AJ Hammons is getting plenty of press, but Purdue’s 3-point shooting will be key this season. (AP)

Last season, Purdue was ninth in the Big Ten in 3-point shooting at 32 percent, and the team’s 3-point shooting leader, DJ Byrd, is gone due to graduation. Byrd made more than half of the Boilermakers’ treys last season, leaving the team with a bunch of mediocre-to-bad shooters beyond the arc. The heavy duty for returnees will fall to Terone Johnson, Ronnie Johnson and Raphael Davis, but all three of these players are better known for their ability to break defenses down off the dribble. Johnson was the best shooter among the group last season, but he still only made 37 threes on the year. Between the rest of the returnees outside of him, the group knocked down a combined 26 3-pointers. This means these players will not only need to improve their long-range shooting this year, but also be willing to look for it more often. This is not a good position for a team that will want to work the inside-outside game.

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Three Thoughts on Michigan’s Win Over Purdue

Posted by WCarey on March 6th, 2013

Walker Carey is an RTC Correspondent. He filed this report after Wednesday night’s game between Michigan and Purdue. You can follow him at @walkerRcarey.

Michigan and Purdue both entered Wednesday’s game fresh off huge victories from Sunday. Michigan notched an important 58-57 home victory over Michigan State. Purdue went into the Kohl Center in Madison and spoiled Wisconsin’s Senior Day with an impressive 69-56 win. While Purdue entered the game at just 14-15 overall, its recent play (winners of two of its last three) coupled with Michigan’s recent conference woes made for an intriguing matchup. Prior to Wednesday evening, Michigan carried a solid 24-5 record and a #7 national ranking. The Wolverines have a plethora of talent and their strengths far outweigh their weaknesses, but their play on the road this season has been below average. While losing on the road is essentially part of life in the ultra-competitive Big Ten, a team of the caliber of Michigan carrying a 3-5 road record certainly raises some questions — especially true because in the road game prior to this contest, Michigan lost to a Penn State team that had previously been 0-14 in Big Ten play. With Purdue playing hard and Michigan looking to remain in the race for the Big Ten title, Wednesday night’s action was definitely memorable with the Wolverines battling back from a 12-point second half deficit to defeat the Boilermakers, 80-75. The following are three thoughts from Wednesday evening’s action from West Lafayette.

Trey Burke Led His Team Back Against Purdue

Trey Burke Led His Team Back Against Purdue

  1. Trey Burke Should Be The Leading Candidate For National Player Of The Year. With his team trailing by 12 points almost midway through the second half, the sophomore point guard grabbed control of the game and led his team to the victory. After a rough first half with just four points and two assists, Burke exploded and finished the night with 26 points and seven assists. While Indiana’s Victor Oladipo and Georgetown’s Otto Porter are both worthy candidates for National Player of the Year as well, you would be hard-pressed to make a case that either have outperformed Burke this season. In the best conference in the country, Burke has scored 15 or more points in every conference game. That statistic shows that win or lose, Burke is still giving the Wolverines a chance. Even after last week’s bad loss at Penn State, the Wolverines still have a chance to win a share of the regular season Big Ten title and that chance is thanks in very large part to the play and leadership of Trey Burke. Read the rest of this entry »
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Big Ten M5: 01.04.13 Edition

Posted by jnowak on January 4th, 2013


  1. Without a doubt, the biggest upset of the early Big Ten season was when scuffling Purdue rose to the occasion and knocked off Illinois in West Lafayette this week. As‘s Rob Dauster points out, the Boilermakers were able to do so by controlling Brandon Paul — with ball-screen defense, switching and the individual defense of Terone Johnson, who probably turned in the best all-around performance of his career. Illinois goes as Paul goes, but the nearly-3o-minute stretch of play during the game during which Purdue held Paul scoreless was certainly the difference-maker in this one. Will other teams in the conference be able to duplicate such an effort?
  2. Iowa put up a good fight against Indiana in its conference opener earlier this week, and it was essentially all without a contribution from Devyn Marble. The junior guard missed 13 of the 14 shots he took in the game — a four-point loss for the Hawkeyes — but Scott Dochterman says it hasn’t affected Marble’s confidence moving forward. “It was frustrating, but I’m not going to let it affect my game or depict what I’m going to do next,” he said. “On the final play, as you saw, I kept shooting.” Granted, Marble has been more up than down this season, turning in a 30-point effort against Northern Iowa and a 27-point game against South Carolina State. Considering what lies ahead this season, he and the Hawkeyes will need all the confidence they can muster.
  3. We know the Big Ten is the toughest conference in the country this season (see: previously-embarrassing Purdue knocking off previously-unbeaten Illinois this week), but what will it take to win the league? In previous years, the Big Ten regular season champion has finished with anywhere from two to five losses (Ohio State won it two years ago with two losses, while Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State all tied for first last year each with five losses). USA Today‘s Eric Prisbell and Nicole Auerbach agree that five losses sounds about right for a conference champion again this season, and any team that emerges from the Big Ten with three losses is a certain national title contender. What do you think? How many losses can Big Ten teams afford to have and still have a shot at the conference championship?
  4. Minnesota has just one loss this season, is ranked in the top 10, has a slew of signature victories already — including a rare win against Michigan State to open the Big Ten slate — but could the Gophers still be flying under the radar? The Star Tribune‘s Amelia Rayno reports that some national pundits (namely Jay Bilas of ESPN) believe Minnesota is still underrated. “I think the Gophers have plenty more to prove before they can be introduced to that level of respect, but right now, they’re doing all the right things,” Rayno writes in response. “There’s no need to talk about the Gophers being underrated right now. Perhaps they were at the beginning of the year, but now, they’re gaining more respect week after week.” What do you think?
  5. Quick: Who is Indiana’s most valuable player? The easy answer, of course, is preseason National Player of the Year sophomore center Cody Zeller. But midway through the season, could another candidate have emerged for the Hoosiers, who remain that same title contender? ESPN‘s Andy Katz points to Victor Oladipo as somewhat of a surprise — surely, we’ve known he was important to the Hoosiers, but perhaps not this important — and calls Oladipo a “game-changer” who makes winning plays. It’s been perplexing for much of Zeller’s career that he hardly ever seems to be the go-to guy down the stretch, which is precisely a trait that Oladipo possesses.
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