The rivalry renewed

Expect the second installment of the IU/ Purdue rivalry to be far more intense than their Dec 14 "rivalry lite" meeting. When the 16th ranked Hoosiers (4-1) take the court Saturday against the (3-1) Boilermakers, emotions will be running high.

Both teams are off to very strong starts in conference play and both teams have extra incentive to bring their "a-game"s to the court. IU is coming off an emotionally charged routing of Ohio State that finally saw them live up to Mike Davis' challengeto play 40 focused minutes of basketball. The Boilermakers should be thirsty for revenge as they step out on their homecourt to avenge their earlier loss to IU.

West Lafayette marks the first stop of a four game road trip that will take the Hoosiers through a crucial stretch of their sixteen game conference schedule. Consecutive games against Purdue and Michigan State, a non conference trip down to Louisville to take on Rick Pitino's upstart Cardinals, and a matchup against Northwestern can make or break the Hoosiers as they come home to start the second half of the Big Ten season against the Spartans. The trip should be made somewhat easier by the expected return of freshman guard Bracey Wright. Wright's 19.2 ppg and his perimeter shooting ability will keep his defenders guarding him close, which should in turn open up the middle for the likes of Jeff Newton and George Leach.

Despite the return of Wright, IU will look to start the game with points in the paint out of the duo of Newton and Leach, who should have a decided advantage over the Boilermaker big men. If senior forward Jeff Newton can provide early production Saturday, the Hoosiers will be hard to contend with. Newton can catch fire if he gets early confidence to feed off, as seen in his 28 point effort against the ninth ranked Illini last Saturday. IU's inside - outside offensive scheme is as talented as any in the country. If Newton and Leach can get established down on the blocks, perimeter shots should be available for a barrage of three-point attempts at the hands of guards Tom Coverdale, Kyle Hornsby, Bracey Wright, and Marshall Strickland, who went for 15 points Tuesday against the Buckeyes.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Hoosiers will come out man to man and focus on the matchup of Coverdale and Purdue guard Willie Deane. Deane is hands down the most dangerous offensive threat in the Boilermaker's limited offensive arsenal, averaging a team high 16.9 ppg. Strong help defense from A.J. Moye, Strickland and Hornsby, along with the shot blocking abilities of Big Ten leader George Leach (3.1bpg) and Jeff Newton should be a formidable obstacle on Deane's path to his season average.

Both clubs have been steadily beat on the offensive glass all season. A major factor could lie in second chance points. Look for both teams to rebound with a fierceness rarely seen out of either to date. This has been a focus of IU's recent practices and the team has shown improvement by outrebounding Ohio State and Illinois in they're last two games. If the trend continues IU could be in business.

With this game shaping up to look like a battle down low, IU's big men including freshman forward Sean Kline will have to stay out of foul trouble. Purdue is deep in the middle and could possibly gain an advantage if Newton and Leach have to sit for long stretches of the second half, as was the case in the Hoosiers' most recent game against Ohio State.

These keys to victory look easier said than done on paper. Despite the records and the statistics, this is not the same Purdue team as last year's bottom dwellers. With a strong class of Freshman including Indianapolis native George Teague, the Boilermakers are among the Big Ten leaders in almost every team defense catergory, including turnover-margin and steals per game. The Hoosiers will need a determined 40 minute effort if they expect to overcome a Purdue team that will have maximum fan support in the unfriendly confines of Mackey Arena. With this in mind, Coach Davis has been adamant that the Boilers are not to be underestimated. His players underestimated the Buckeyes and were handed a swift defeat on the road earlier in conference play. Top Stories