Indiana-Purdue: The Rematch

Indiana hopes to avenge an ugly loss to rival Purdue when the teams meet Thursday night at Assembly Hall.

There's a lot on the line when Indiana and Purdue meet at Assembly Hall on Thursday night. Sound obvious? Well, it hasn't always been that way recently.

Pride -- and revenge, in Indiana's case -- are clear motivating factors heading into the rematch between the two rivals. But postseason play is also very much on the minds of both teams, whether they'll admit it or not.

"I hadn't thought about it like that," Indiana coach Tom Crean said. "But they're really good."

The Hoosiers (18-8, 8-5 Big Ten) should return to the NCAA Tournament barring a complete collapse. But Thursday night's game will go a long way in deciding where they're seeded in March. Right now, the experts have them anywhere from the 5-line to the 8-line. Needless to say, there's a significant difference between the two.

After a horrible non-conference season, the Boilermakers have gotten themselves back to the bubble with a 9-4 start in conference play. Win in Bloomington on Thursday, and there's a legitimate chance Purdue could finish second in the Big Ten. The Boilers have won six of their last seven entering Thursday.

"When both teams are playing at an extremely high level, that just makes the game that much more fun," Yogi Ferrell said.

As I'm sure you remember, the first meeting between the two teams was ugly. Purdue dominated Indiana in every facet, earning an 83-67 win in West Lafayette on Jan. 28. The Boilermakers' size kept Indiana from scoring around the rim, and Purdue beat IU on the other end with straight line drives to the basket.

The Hoosiers have had Feb. 19 circled on their calendars ever since that day, and now they'll get a chance to avenge that loss on their home floor.

"They know that they have to play better," Crean said Wednesday. "They have to be tougher, they have to be smarter."

The atmosphere figures to be as wild as any this season, especially considering the significance of the game outside of the rivalry. Thursday night marks the beginning of the weekend for many IU students, and Maryland found that out the hard way a couple of weeks ago.

"Maybe they get to feel a little bit of the hate we feel when we play there," Ferrell said, smiling.

Indiana's Hanner Mosquera-Perea will play after missing the first game against Purdue, and that's important for the Hoosiers. He's never been consistent, but Mosquera-Perea is the biggest, most experienced big man in Crean's rotation, and he should make a difference against 7-footers A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas.

Hammons had eight blocks when the teams met in West Lafayette. If the Hoosiers are going to win on Thursday, they must learn not to attack the talented shot blocker.

"We can't be challenging him at the rim because he won a lot of those battles last time," Nick Zeisloft said.

Playing at home will greatly benefit the Hoosiers -- they're undefeated at Assembly Hall in Big Ten play -- but Purdue has played well on the road. The Boilers own road wins against Penn State, Rutgers and Northwestern, and they took Wisconsin to the wire in Madison. Their only conference road losses -- to Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota -- came by seven, nine and four points, respectively.

Indiana opened as a 3.5-point favorite. It's a tough game to predict because of the difference in styles.


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