Inside The Matchup: Purdue

Northwestern looks to get back on track on Saturday afternoon, when it hosts a struggling Purdue team at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Will the Wildcats get a much-needed victory? Go inside the matchup.

The last time Northwestern played a game at Welsh-Ryan Arena, the Wildcats enjoyed their biggest win of the season, an 81-74 upset of No. 6 Michigan State, and their chances of making their first ever NCAA Tournament were looking up.

Just two weeks later, heading into Saturday's home game against Purdue, the Cats have no momentum and need a big win to stay in contention for the Big Dance.

Purdue, however, is struggling, as well. The Boilermakers have also lost two straight — a blowout at Michigan State and a nailbiter at home to Michigan.

This game can be a big momentum booster for the winning team and a crushing blow to the loser. Let's go inside the matchup to see who has the edge.


No. 12 Purdue beat Northwestern 82-69 in West Lafayette in the teams' only meeting last season.


Crawford has been quite in his last two games, and as one of the Wildcats' two best players, he must step up to get his team back on the right track.

NU goes as Crawford and John Shurna go, and the team has mirrored Crawford's weak shooting performances against Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Crawford may be the most dynamic player for the Cats. He can drive the lane, but can also shoot outside. If he can get hot from outside and finish at the rim — he failed to finish inside against Minnesota — NU's offense will be able to get rolling for the first time since the Michigan State game.


Purdue's strength is on the perimeter, but the Boilermakers must make sure they stop the inside game despite a lack of size. Northwestern isn't very good inside, but Davide Curletti is capable of playing very well if he can get into a rhythm.

Defensively, Purdue needs to find a way to disrupt Curletti.

Offensively, the Boilers like to shoot outside and drive the lane. They don't post up very often because of a lack of size. If they can get the dribble drives going, they can also open up outside shots and get going offensively.


There really isn't anything the Wildcats need to improve on scheme-wise; they just need to get into a rhythm offensively.

The Cats missed their first 14 shots against Minnesota, which put them in an early hole that they could recover from. They have to come out of the gate faster on Saturday.

NU is one of the best outside shooting teams in the Big Ten, so it should be able to get back on track, but it needs to get out of this cold streak that started in the second half of the Wisconsin game if it wants to beat Purdue.


Northwestern will find its rhythm and jump out to and early lead. Curletti won't have the same kind of monstrous game that he had against Michigan State, but he will do well inside, taking advantage of Purdue's small lineup.

Shurna and Crawford will get hot from outside and they'll also play well on the dribble-drive.

Purdue will play solid defense that will cool off the Cats, but they won't have the offensive firepower to be able to come back from an early deficit, handing them their third straight loss and their fourth in five games.

Then again, the "bad" NU team could show up and the Cats could be blown off the court for the third straight game. However, with the tournament implications that are on the line and playing at home, the time seems right for the "good" NU to show up.

SCORE PREDICTION: Northwestern 68, Purdue 61

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