The Hawkeyes blitzed Purdue by 19 points back in February, in a game that was played in Iowa City. Prior to the start of that game, I felt that Purdue would probably trip up the Hawkeyes, because at that time, the Boilermakers were playing about as good as any other team in the Big Ten outside of Ohio State.
That dismantling was impressive, shocking and surprising. Iowa kept its collective foot on the Boilermakers' throats in the second half, never giving up its double-digit lead. That in and of itself was surprising as well.
Carl Landry, Purdue's leading scorer at over 18 points per game, was held to a season low nine points in 33 minutes of action. It was the only game this year where Landry did not score in double figures. David Teague was held to 13 points on 5 of 13 shooting. He came into that game averaging 19.3 points over the course of his six previous contests. He is one of the most accurate three-point shooters in the nation.
The Hawks simply outplayed Purdue in that game. Adam Haluska scored just 11 points in that game, though he sacrificed some of his offense for the defense he put forth against Teague.
Do I think that effort will be duplicated today? It will be very hard to do that, in my opinion.
Iowa attempted 33 free throws against Purdue last month, and they made 23 of them. Purdue attempted 27 free throws, a solid number on the road, but they made just 13. That's a 10-point difference on the scoreboard right there. Iowa had 21 assists on 25 of its made field goals, a great number. Can that be duplicated?
Purdue had 19 turnovers in that game, and Iowa had 18. One would expect that one or both teams would lower that number today.
Purdue has been a poor away from Mackey Arena this year. In their 12 games outside of their friendly confines, the Boilermakers are just 2-10. That includes a 19-point pasting against Indiana State, as well as a loss to Butler and at Minnesota. They finally won a Big Ten road game against Northwestern immediately after their Iowa loss.
The road hasn't been too kind to Iowa this year, either. The Hawkeyes lone true-road wins were at Michigan and Minnesota. Iowa lost at Virginia Tech, Arizona State as well as its 16-point loss at Drake. Iowa was also 1-3 in neutral court games, with those being played at the Paradise Jam back in November.
You could argue that both teams are playing for their NCAA tournament lives, with Iowa having to advance to the finals to have any shot at an at large bid. In all likelihood, Iowa needs to win the Big Ten Tourney to make it to the Big Dance.
For Purdue, their game against Iowa is a likely play in game for them; win, and they are in. Lose, and they are in the N.I.T.
The stakes are higher right now than they were a month ago. Purdue is a dangerous team with dangerous players. Some key Boilermakers were in foul trouble last month, and Cyrus Tate played the game of his career. To expect those things to happen again today are fool hearty.
Iowa doesn't need to play a perfect game to beat Purdue, so don't get me confused here. Purdue is not Ohio State. They are a good team that can play like a very good team.
I hope that Iowa wins, but I think that the Boilermakers will emerge victorious.
Here is how I see the rest of the Big Ten Tournament playing out:
Ohio State defeats Michigan
Michigan State defeats Wisconsin
Indiana defeats Illinois
Ohio State defeats Purdue
Indiana defeats Illinois
Ohio State defeats Indiana
BIG TEN NCAA QUALIFIERS (6)