BoilerUpload - Purdue at Illinois | Game Preview | Is the crown up for grabs? (2024)

#3 Purdue goes into Champaign where a win will win the Big Ten outright.

Confetti might have already fallen in Mackey Arena, but #3 Purdue will get a chance to win the Big Ten outright on Tuesday night against the only school capable of tying with them, #12 Illinois.

It won't be easy. Purdue won the first matchup on January 5th, 83-78, but that game was played in Mackey Arena. This one will have Purdue traveling to Champaign to play at the State Farm Center.

#3 Purdue 26-3 (15-3) at #12 Illinois 13-5 (13-5) | 7:00 p.m. | Peaco*ck

The scenario is simple. Purdue has two games left, one on the road at Illinois, and a season finale at home against a plummeting Wisconsin team. It has to win just one of those two to win the Big Ten outright.

It would also win outright if Illinois loses to Purdue or on the road at Iowa for its season finale.

It will make for an interesting dynamic as Purdue heads to Illinois, not needing to win while Illinois absolutely needs the win to stay alive in the Big Ten and to get a bump in seeding for the NCAA Tournament.

It's the marquee Big Ten matchup of the season as the two teams have separated themself from the rest of the Big Ten and are the Big Ten's best bets to go far in the NCAA Tournament.


And while Purdue's Big Ten title might be decided in Illinois, there's a chance that it'll go back to West Lafayette with the Big Ten on the line as Wisconsin looks to right its season with a major upset to finish the season.

And Autograph wants to make sure you don't miss it. On March 6th at 3:00 est it will be offering three pairs of tickets as part of its True Fan Pricing experience for just $16 a ticket.

We are excited to be partnering with Autograph and help reward you for your fandom.

All you need to do is download the Autograph app and sign up, using the code: boilerupload to start getting rewarded for your fandom.

Autograph is the ultimate fan experience providing a place for all your Purdue news, shows, and articles in one place.

Illinois Starting Five


Ty Rodgers

6-6 | 200 lbs | So.




77-145 (.531)

0-0 (.000)

Terrence Shannon

6-6 | 225 lbs. | Sr.




93-157 (.592)

55-154 (.357)

Marcus Domask

6-6 | 215 lbs | Sr.




133-245 (.543)

32-110 (.291)

Quincy Guerrier

6-8 | 220 lbs. | Sr.




70-122 (.574)

33-91 (.363)

Coleman Hawkins

6-10 | 225 lbs. | Sr.




66-126 (.524)

49-123 (.398)

Purdue doesn't need it, but it wants it.

There's no way to spin this game as equal. Purdue is all but locked into all its end of season goals. It will, at worst, share the Big Ten title and just has to win at home against Wisconsin to wrap up a solo Big Ten Championship for the second straight year. It will have a double-bye as it heads into the Big Ten Tournament. It is also almost a lock to get its preferred seeding and location in the NCAA Tournament.

It doesn't need to beat Illlinois.

But Illinois still has aspirations to share for the Big Ten title as well as improve its positioning in the NCAA Tournament. With one win over Purdue, a win on the road at Iowa, and a run through the Big Ten Tournament that would likely mean another win over Purdue, it would set itself up to be a solid #2 seed.

It needs to beat Purdue to improve its path through the Big Ten and NCAA Tournament.

But for Matt Painter, he thinks his team has enough pride to cover any gap in motivation.

"I don't think so," he told me when I asked him if he had to defend against his team not viewing it as a must win. "Just because the pride factor. We have a lot of respect for Illinois and their players. They're very talented. And just the fact that you want to compete, you want to get a victory, you want to win. For no other reason, not improving resumes, not helping your seen in the tournament - even if all those things are true - just trying to be better than the guy in front of you. I think that's one thing our guys will look at from a pride standpoint."

BoilerUpload - Purdue at Illinois | Game Preview | Is the crown up for grabs? (2)

Matchup nightmares

Matt Painter moved the first chess piece between himself and Brad Underwood by sticking Zach Edey on Underwood's 'point guard' Ty Rodgers instead of Illinois' multi-talented big man Coleman Hawkins to start the first game at Mackey Arena.

That allowed Edey to ignore Rodgers and hang towards the paint, cutting off the lane, and dominating the glass. It stuck an Illinois offense that's used to space and getting on the move. Purdue held Illinois to just 32 points in the first half. Edey ended up spending a good portion of the half on the bench in foul trouble, but it was clear that providing Edey a spot to hide allowed him to control the game away from scoring. Edey had just 10 points against Illinois, but was able to grab 15 rebounds in just 23 minutes of action.

Rodgers plays a pivotal role for Illinois. Illinois is an iso heavy offense, relying on the individual athleticism and skill combined with length everywhere to attack defenses. Marcus Domask, a 6-6 wing, made Purdue's life hell by isolating its smaller guards in the post and getting to the free throw line.

But Rodgers is the only natural play maker on the roster. He's a strong defender, and a good rebounder. But he hasn't attempted a three-pointer all season. Edey will hide on him any time they are matched up on the court together. Rodgers offers a place for Purdue to send its best help defender at whatever precarious situation Illinois' collection of ball handlers is putting Purdue's guards in.

And Illinois' rotation barely looks the same as when they played Purdue early in January. The obvious change, and red mark on the university, is Terrance Shannon's return to the team in the face of Illinois' own conduct policy. Shannon who is charged currently with rape has returned to the team thanks to a judge's intervention and was immediately brought back into the rotation and now the starting lineup for Brad Underwood.

It's allowed Underwood to make changes to his rotation including limiting the minutes of one of his best shooters, Luke Goode, who scored 16 points while making four threes the first time Illinois played Purdue.

In the last two games, Goode has played a combined 7 minutes and has only scored 3 points. Goode is one of the more comfortable places Painter can put Fletcher Loyer and not have him take on a plus athlete. Loyer has mostly done better guarding size than elite quickness or strength.

Goode hasn't played because the rest of Illinois' wings provide a lot of the quickness and strength as Illinois offense has taken off. Illinois is most dangerous in transition and Purdue will have a tough task to keep Illinois from getting out and running in front of its home crowd.

Illinois defense

While Illinois' offense has been great, its defense has quickly gotten worse and worse as it reaches the end of its regular season. It's held just one team under 80 points since February. With Illinois personnel, it barely makes sense. Illinois is one of the country's longest teams and has plenty of athleticism. But defense doesn't really seem to interest Illinois' players.

Teams are shooting 34% from three against Illinois, but maybe most importantly to Purdue, Illinois is one of the worst teams in the country at forcing turnovers. Teams are turning it over just 12.6% of the time against the Fighting Illini.

Teams do most of their damage against Illinois from the three point and Illinois has relied on being pretty tough inside the paint and outscoring teams. That doesn't work as well when Purdue presents the most efficient scorer in the paint in the country in Zach Edey.

Purdue was 9 of 19 from three in the first matchup, a game that Purdue jumped out to a big lead early, and carried a 20+ lead for good portions of the contest until Marcus Domask led a late comeback to get the game close in the final seconds.

It wasn't Zach Edey that got the best of Illinois, but Trey Kaufman-Renn, who had a season-high 23 points on 7 of 11 shooting from the floor. Illinois only stalwart in the post, Dain Dainja, is nearly unplayable for Underwood with his struggles in the pick and roll defense and though he's 270 lbs., he only has a 6-9 frame to go up against Edey inside.

In many ways, both teams represent potential kryptonite for the other.

Will Illinois' home court and addition be enough to flip the score around for the Fighting Illini? Or is Zach Edey and his Boilermakers inevitable and they'll be able to wrap up the Big Ten by multiple games for a second straight season?

Either way we should all be in for a treat as college basketball's spotlight will be shining on Big Ten country on Tuesday night.

BoilerUpload  -  Purdue at Illinois | Game Preview | Is the crown up for grabs? (2024)
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