Inside the Matchup
The Big Ten opener for the Iowa Hawkeyes takes them on the road to visit the 15th ranked Purdue Boilermakers. Early on, Purdue has been one of the top 3 teams in the conference along with Wisconsin and Indiana, which presents a tough task on the road for this young Iowa team. The Hawkeyes won both meetings last season, having to come from behind in both. That was the first time Iowa had swept Purdue since the 2004 season. However, the Boilers do lead the all-time series recording 87 victories to just 75 losses.
The Boilermakers are loaded with talented and are led by sophomore standout, Caleb Swanigan. Swanigan is putting up ridiculous numbers to start the season averaging 18 points and 13 rebounds. He's put up 20 points and 20 rebounds in Purdue's last two games and currently leads the nation with 10 double doubles.
The Hawkeyes are going to need to bring their A game on defense, especially in the low post having to handle Swanigan and fellow front court mate, Isaac Haas. Their defense has shown vast improvements over the last five games and with Tyler Cook coming back for the Big Ten opener, it should help. While defense isn't his strong suit, he gives the Hawkeyes another big body to go up against these two for Purdue. He's also familiar with Swanigan, considering he did play against him in his prep days.
Purdue is a complete team, though. They have a couple of guys in Vincent Edwards and Dakota Mathias that shoot the three pointer at an impressive clip. Both shoot over 47% from behind the arc. Even Ryan Cline and Swanigan shoot impressive percentages from three point land, so they have multiple players that can hurt you. The Hawkeyes haven't been great defending the three, so closing out well and getting a hand in the shooters face will be crucial.
For Purdue, it's about stopping Peter Jok. Carsen Edwards had been starting the past 6 games in place of Vincent Edwards, but it would not shock me to see Vincent inserted back into the starting lineup for matchup purposes. Purdue has the length to slow down the likes of Cordell Pemsl and Tyler Cook, but they are going to have to limit Iowa in transition. Isaiah Moss has shown a nice ability to finish at the rim and with how big and tall Purdue is, Iowa would like to turn this into a track meet.
Hawk to Rock
As usual, Peter Jok would be the popular pick. He averaged 12 points in two games against Purdue last season, but is going to carry the load on offense this season during the Big Ten slate. He comes in averaging 23 points per game and will without a doubt be the focus of Purdue's defensive game plan. However, I don't think that is going to matter. He's shown that it doesn't matter how you defend him, he's still going to get his. He had UNI's Jeremy Morgan draped all over him for a majority of that game in Des Moines, IA but showed that he didn't need much room to get his shot off.
It's going to depend on how Jok opens up. If he gets in a rhythm early, I believe he'll have a big night. Purdue probably throws some double teams at him and will come at him with immense pressure in an attempt to rattle him early. Fran McCaffery will still find ways to get Jok open and what makes Jok so tough to cover is the fact that he never stops moving on the offensive end. I like Jok to score 21 against the Boilers.
This feels like a game where someone like Brady Ellingson sneaks under the radar and scores between 10-12 points. Purdue is going to focus on Iowa's front line of Pemsl and Cook, along with Jok, so I can see someone like Ellingson finding himself open. And he's proven that he's going to knock shots down if you leave him open. He is shooting 62% from the floor and 59% from behind the arc, which is obviously much better than the 27% from three he posted in his freshman season. Keep in mind, he had 8 points in 11 minutes in Iowa's defeat of Purdue in Iowa City last season.
This is a tough test for a young Iowa team right out of the gate. Purdue is experienced, deep, and talented. Iowa had to replace four starters from last year's team and they're still figuring themselves out, although they've come quite a ways in the past month. I think the Hawkeyes will hang around for the first half and into the second half, but sooner or later Purdue's front line starts to wear on the young Iowa front court. They may start to get into a bit of foul trouble, which in turn puts Purdue at the free throw line. Iowa is going to figure out a lot about their team on Wednesday night, but I think it comes in a loss.
PURDUE 77 IOWA 67