Iowa (15-3) vs. Purdue (17-3)
Time: 12:00 p.m. CT
Location: Carver-Hawkeye Arena
TV/Streaming: Big Ten Network/BTN2Go
Line: Iowa -2.5
When Iowa Has the Ball
Note: All numbers in this piece come from Kenpom or Sports Reference. Additionally, ratings in the four factors charts are scaled so that 100 = average. Thus, above 100 is above average, while below 100 is below average. For example, Iowa's 107 shooting rating means that their eFG% has been 7% better than the national average this year, while Purdue's 103 means they have been 3% better at contesting opponent shots this season.
I made one slight change to the charts this time around. Instead of using complete season numbers, I decided to start using conference numbers only now that each team has played six games or so. Doing so gets rid of early season cupcakes like Coppin State and Co., and I think better reflects a team's true talent while giving us a better idea of how they are playing as of late. And, on this end of the floor, this is a battle of the Big Ten's best offense against its third best defense.
Now, Iowa had a mixed bag on offense the last time they played Purdue. In the first half of that game, the Boilers held Iowa to just 0.63 points per possession, which was their worst half of offensive basketball of the season. By a lot. Three of the four factors weren't outrageously bad, as Iowa didn't turn the ball over much and the offensive rebounding and free throw categories had been an up and down thing for Iowa all year. However, Iowa's big issue was a 25% eFG% that consisted of the Hawkeyes shooting 6-20 inside the arc and just 1-10 from beyond it. We've talked about how badly things can go if this team isn't making their shots, and the first half in West Lafayette was evidence of that claim.
In the second half, though, the Hawkeyes had an offensive outburst that was arguably their best of the season. Their 1.44 points per possession was likely a little more impressive than the 1.53 total they had in the second half vs. Michigan, due to the quality of the opponent's defense and because of the venue. But Iowa turned the game at Purdue around after halftime by forcing turnovers and converting them into points. The Hawkeyes shot 12-19 from two-point range after halftime, while also hitting 6 of their 9 three-point attempts on their way to a 75% eFG%.
In Sunday's contest, shooting is likely the most important factor on this side of the ball again for Iowa. Since Big Ten play started, Iowa has made 41% of their three-point shots, which is good for #2 in the conference. If there was one issue, however, it's that Iowa is making just 48% of their twos, which ranks 9th in the Big Ten. Part of the issue is that Iowa has had a 3 percentage point uptick in two-point jump shots, which has come at the expense of 3 percentage points worth of three-point attempts. The other part of Iowa's two-point struggles in Big Ten play has been the result of them not shooting the ball quite as well close to the basket. The Hawkeyes were making 72% of their shots near the rim in non-conference play, but that has fallen a bit to 67% against Big Ten competition. Both of these things could be issues against Purdue.
Last time around, Purdue's gigantic front line forced the Hawkeyes to take a long two-point jumper on 37.9% of their field goal attempts. That's the third-highest rate of the season behind Nebraska (43.4%) and Dayton (38.7%). Long two attempts haven't necessarily been a death knell for this Hawkeye offense this season, but those shots do have a lower chance of falling, which means a higher probability that Iowa could have a cold shooting day. And if Iowa has a cold shooting day, that means they need to make those points up in the other three factors. Turnovers shouldn't be much of an issue for Iowa, but offensive rebounds and getting to the free throw line against this Purdue team likely won't be easy to come by.
The Hawkeyes are 15-1 this season when they win the shooting category, and 0-2 when they lose it. Hopefully they can put the ball in the basket at a high clip on Sunday, or it could be a long day.
When Purdue Has the Ball
On this end of the court, Purdue's offense has the second highest adjusted offensive efficiency in the Big Ten, while Iowa has the fourth best defensive one. Purdue's offense runs heavily through the interior, as they like to get Hammons or Haas posted up on the block. If they catch the ball in a good spot, they will go up for the shot near the rim. If the double or even triple-team comes, they kick it back out to the perimeter for their shooters like Mathias or Thompson. But while their shooting is above average, it certainly isn't off the charts. And this seems to be because Purdue's offense has an issue with getting their shots blocked. The Division I average for block rate is 9.2%, and Purdue has had 10.5% of their shots blocked since Big Ten play started. And Iowa took advantage of that weakness the last time they played, when the Hawkeyes blocked nine of Purdue's field goal tries on the day. The Hawkeyes also used the 1-2-2 three-quarter court press to force Purdue into uncharacteristically giving up the ball a lot as well. So I would imagine that Matt Painter has had his team practice breaking Iowa's press in preparation for this game.
But if there's one main area of concern on this end of the court for Iowa, it has to be rebounding. Purdue has a host of guys who suck up offensive rebounds like they are damn vacuum cleaners, and Iowa has had teams abuse them on the offensive glass quite a bit this season. In fact, Iowa has only won the offensive rebounding factor in half of their games this season. For comparison's sake, Iowa has won the shooting category in 88.9% of games this season, the turnover category in 83.3%, and the free throw rate battle in 55.6%. This is Iowa's weakest area and Purdue's strongest. They are likely going to get their offensive boards, so Iowa will need to make sure that Purdue cannot capitalize on their second chance points.
Style of Play
Since Big Ten play has started, both teams have found their average possessions per game drop. Both average 69 possessions per game on the season, but Iowa has dropped to 67 against Big Ten competition, while Purdue has dropped to 66. Both teams hold the ball on offense for an average of a little more than 17 seconds (Division I average is 17.2), while both teams also force their opponents to hold the ball for a little more than 18 seconds in order to find a decent look.
When it comes to both teams' shot distributions, both are attempting just slightly more two-point shots than average in Big Ten play. On defense, Iowa has also seen their conference opponents' shot distribution come out to right around average. Purdue, though, has seen their opponents shoot a few more twos than threes.
As for putting the ball in the basket, Purdue looks to have the two-point and free throw shooting advantage. Iowa, however, has the three-point shooting advantage. And that is something that can keep them in the game even if they are struggling to convert from inside the arc.
Points-wise, Iowa has been heavily reliant on the three-point shot falling against Big Ten foes. And their defense has continued to hold their opponents to below average output from beyond the arc. Purdue, meanwhile, is slightly above the norm in offensive points from two-point shots at the expense of points from free throws, and the same can be said about the defense. Of course, neither of those should be surprising considering their free throw rates on the charts above.
Players to Watch
Note: A quick reminder on how this chart works. The horizontal axis represents a player's usage rate, while the vertical axis represents a player's offensive rating. The circle size represents playing time (bigger means more time on the court). This chart should tell us how involved in the offense the player is, how efficient they are in doing so, and in how many minutes per game do they accomplish all of this.
Truhawk11 requested that I post Iowa's player profile chart, so here it is. Make sure to pay attention to the difference in the horizontal axes between the two teams, as Purdue's has a bigger range of numbers thanks to Swanigan and Thompson.
For the Boilers, everything starts with their trio of big men. A.J. Hammons, Isaac Haas, and Caleb Swanigan all use almost a quarter of their team's offensive possessions and are responsible for about 35 of Purdue's 80 points per game. Hammons and Haas have a rotation in which they both split almost 50% of the time at the five spot, but Hammons does play about four minutes per game more. When Purdue's offense is running well, the ball should touch center in the post at least once. Both Hammons and Haas (we'll get to Swanigan in a minute) are converting on 58-59% of their twos this season, but they also have pretty good assist rates for big men, which stems from the fact that they kick the ball out to open shooters on the perimeter quite a bit. Haas also has a knack for drawing fouls, which is something Hammons seems to lack.
Outside of scoring, Hammons and Haas are both outstanding rebounders and a big part of why Purdue is the best rebounding team in the Big Ten and one of the best in the country. They are also great shot blockers, and have decreased the number of fouls called against them this season. Last season Haas was especially vulnerable to foul trouble, but not so much this season.
As for Swanigan, he's a bit of an enigma. He's an uber-talented power forward that can bang down low or stretch the defense outside. However, he's got the lowest offensive rating on the team, which is made doubly worse by the fact that he's so active in the offense. He's not a great shooter this early in his career, but his 33% from outside and 49% from two-point range isn't awful, either. His biggest issue is the fact that he gives the ball to the other team way too much. Last time Iowa played Purdue, he was responsible for three turnovers by himself. And his 3-10 shooting performance didn't help his team much, either. He has the talent to go off on any given night, but his shooting has gotten worse since entering Big Ten play and his turnovers continue to be very high. Let's hope that trend continues into Sunday's game.
Outside of the post, Purdue's starting lineup is rounded out with Johnny Hill at the one, Rapheal Davis at the two, and Vince Edwards at the three. Hill, like Hammons, is a guy who got his starting position after the loss to Iowa. He replaced P.J. Thompson, who is a better outside shooter, but Hill has the ability to take his man off the dribble and force the defense to collapse. Once that happens, Hill is very talented at finishing near the rim, but he's also skilled at finding open shooters on the wing or an open big man on the block. His one big issue on offense, however, is that he can turn the ball over a bit too much at times. But his shooting, offensive rebounding, and his defense (24th in the country in steals) help make up for the value lost with turnovers.
Edwards, meanwhile, is a very versatile forward that has the ability to attack and finish in traffic or find the open man. He's averaging almost 10 points per game this year, while making a little over half of his two-point attempts and almost 37% of his threes. He's one of the best assist men on the team, he can rebound, and at 6'8", he should provide a defensive test for Peter Jok on the wing.
Rapheal Davis is the final starter for Purdue. He plays good defense and is scoring 8.8 points per game on offense. He shoots from all over the floor, but the fact that he's not the greatest shooter in the world means his offensive rating isn't as high as it could be. He does like to attack the basket off the dribble, however, so keeping him from doing that could go a long way in limiting his offensive impact on this game.
Off the bench, P.J. Thompson, Dakota Mathias, Ryan Cline, and Kendall Stephens combine to attempt 15 three-pointers and score 22 points per game. Stephens' 32% from downtown is the worst of the bunch, but the other three are making 36% or better. Additionally, the first of those three are also very good at dishing out assists, while all four are very good at not turning the ball over.
What Kenpom Thinks
Kenpom Rankings: Iowa #4, Purdue #9
Projected Outcome: Iowa 74 (72%), Purdue 68 (28%)
Projected Points Per Possession: Iowa 1.07, Purdue 0.99
Projected Possessions: 69
With Rutgers now out of the way, this game is the beginning of a big two-game stretch for Iowa. They currently sit at 6-0 in the conference and are in the early driver's seat for the Big Ten title. Of course, with upcoming games against conference title contenders in Purdue Sunday and Maryland on Thursday, Iowa has a chance to start to run away with the conference (along with Indiana), or it has the opportunity to allow those teams to catch up.
The first key to beating Purdue will be for Iowa to make their shots on offense, even if Purdue's big men make it difficult to get inside the paint and score. If Peter Jok, Jarrod Uthoff, etc. can make their threes, that should hopefully open up the painted area for Iowa to get to the basket and score or draw some fouls.
On the other end, if they can find a way to create turnovers again, that would be helpful. But they are going to also have to play sound defense, as well. Woodbury, Uhl, Uthoff, etc. will have to front the post to deny entry into Hammons and Haas. But when those guys are able to catch the ball, Iowa's help defenders need to collapse and take away any easy buckets at the rim. If they can force Purdue to kick it outside and they can contest those inevitable three-pointers and limit Purdue on the offensive glass, the Hawkeyes should have a good chance of winning this game. But if Iowa's defense is sloppy, if they gamble on too many steals, or if they don't hit the defensive glass hard Purdue will make them pay.
Iowa has more than enough talent to win this game. Let's hope Carver-Hawkeye ends up being a better home court advantage than Mackey proved to be.