Maryland finally lost their first game in Big Ten play Wednesday, falling to Illinois on the road in a late night game. They'll look to get back on track Saturday, traveling to play Purdue for their third conference road game in 12 days. Tip-off is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. ET, televised on the Big Ten Network and streamed on BTN2Go.
The Boilermakers are 10-6 this season, with a 2-1 record in Big Ten play. They're ranked No. 64 in KenPom, and can claim top-100 wins over BYU, NC State, Minnesota and Michigan. They suffered top-100 losses to Vanderbilt, Notre Dame and Wisconsin, but more concerning defeats to Kansas State (No. 105), North Florida (No. 180) and Gardner Webb (No. 190), the latter two at home.
Former Purdue guard Matt Painter was promoted from Boilermakers assistant to head coach before the 2005 season and has been there ever since. After a horrendous first season, Purdue made six straight NCAA Tournaments under Painter, including back-to-back Sweet Sixteen appearances, winning one Big Ten championship and one Big Ten tournament. They've missed the tournament two years in a row now, finishing 7th in the conference in 2012-13 and 12th last season.
Players to know
A.J. Hammons, 7'0, junior. One of four players averaging between 10.2 and 10.8 points per game for Purdue, the big man takes the highest shot load on the team and is one of the conference's biggest presences on the inside. He blocks 13.6% of opponent shots while on the floor, good for eighth in the country, and is tied for the team lead with 5.9 rebounds per game.
Vince Edwards, 6'7, freshman. The guy tied with Hammons for that rebounding mark, Edwards has been Purdue's most efficient offensive player this season. He's a much better free thrower than Hammons and is shooting a remarkable 63.5% from the floor. Part of that is due to the opportunities he makes for himself -- Edwards is a very good offensive rebounder, and often ends up with the ball near the basket.
Kendall Stephens, 6'6, sophomore. Purdue's biggest three-point threat has hit 40 of 92 attempts from long range this season, and he leads the team in scoring as a result. He's been dreadful from two-point range (28.9%), curiously enough, and he hasn't really provided much more than three-point shooting this year.
Jon Octeus, 6'4, senior. Purdue's point guard, Octeus averages 2.4 assists against 1.3 turnovers per game. He's a solid shooter, but isn't one of the main scoring options in their offense.
Rapheal Davis, 6'5, junior. Davis is mostly used as a driving threat to the basket. He leads the team's starters in free throw rate, making it to the line for 65 opportunities this season (against 102 field goal attempts).
Isaac Haas, 7'2, freshman. His minutes have been limited by foul trouble, but the massive youngster from Alabama has impressed in his first season in college. Haas' rebounding percentage numbers match up favorably with Hammons', and while his block percentage is nowhere near the junior's, it's still a respectable 4.8%. Haas actually helps out on offense, too -- he's taken 100 shots in 275 minutes, leading the team in points per 40 minutes. He also draws a ton of fouls (8.4 per 40, fourth in the country), but shoots 52.5% from the line.
Height. Between Hammons, Haas and Edwards, Purdue has three capable players with height who can contribute on the defensive boards and score on the inside. The Boilermakers rank No. 26 in block percentage (14.8%), No. 29 in offensive rebounding percentage (37.4%) and No. 60 in opponent offensive rebounding percentage (27.9%).
Two-point shooting. The Boilermakers shoot 51.7% from inside the line, led by the freshmen Edwards and Haas -- each of whom are shooting over 60% this season.
Distribution. Purdue's best passer this season, Bryson Scott, has sat out each of the past two games following an incident in practice. Painter has reportedly said Scott's lack of playing time is due to the strong play of Octeus and freshman P.J. Thompson, but Scott has by far the highest assist rate on the team.
Three-point defense. The Boilermakers have been burnt by it all year, and they could fall into trouble against Maryland's array of shooters. Purdue has allowed opponents to shoot 37.8% from deep this season, ranking No. 305 in the nation. Maryland is shooting 36.2% from three this year, and could have a field day against the Boilermakers.
KenPom’s prediction: Maryland, 68-67. 57% chance Maryland wins.
Pete's prediction: Maryland, 72-64.