Location: West Lafayette, IN
Mascot: Boilermaker Special, Purdue Pete
Line: Purdue by 7.5
Typical Rotation Depth: 9
KenPom rank: 2
- This will be the first #1 team Nebraska has played since 2013 (at Indiana) and the first home game against a #1 ranked opponent since hosting Kansas in 2002
- Nebraska is 3-13 all-time in games vs #1 ranked opponents
- Last season Nebraska took Purdue to OT at home before eventually falling 65-62
- Purdue ranks 9th in KenPom's minutes continuity metric as they return 6 of last year's top 7 scorers
KenPom most used lineups
Player to watch: Zach Edey
Purdue is known for their big post players and Edey is one of the biggest and one of the best. The returning Big 10 and national player of the year has been even better this year than last season, especially in the 'foul out your front line' department. You cannot stop him, you can only hope to contain him.
Player to watch: Braden Smith
The killer part about Smith is that when he's not feeding Edey and company, he's knocking down 3s at a 47.9% clip. You can pressure him into turnovers but that isn't Nebraska's game.
Player to watch: Lance Jones
The Southern Illinois transfer is the one new face for the Boilermakers and he brings a defensive presence on the perimeter plus a combo guard skillset. His 3pt shooting is scattershot so he's the one guy you might concede shots to in a game where you need Purdue to miss 3s.
Others to watch
Fletch Loyer is shooting 40.3% from 3, 39.4% from 2. Trey Kaufman-Renn can play inside and out at the 4 where he's more of a scoring threat than glue guy Mason Gillis. Both are shooting 50% from 3 on what I assume are completely uncovered 3pt attempts. Long time vets Caleb Furst and Ethan Morton provide depth at the post and guard, respectively.
UNL Game Notes
Will update if needed when the B1G releases their injury
5 Ahron Ulis 6-3 190 lbs Junior - Likely out for the season
15 Blaise Keita 6-11 257 lbs Junior - Ongoing ankle injury recovery
Have been showing up on the injury report
35 Henry Burt 6-7 216 lbs RS Freshman
2 Ramel Lloyd Jr. 6-6 210 lbs RS Freshman
3 Brice Williams 6-7 213 lbs Junior - ANKLE
Possible starters for Nebraska
10 Jamarques Lawrence 6-3 183 lbs Sophomore
30 Keisei Tominaga 6-2 179 lbs Senior
0 C.J. Wilcher 6-5 214 lbs Junior (If Williams is out)
4 Juwan Gary 6-6 221 lbs Junior
51 Rienk Mast 6-10 248 lbs Junior
53 Josiah Allick 6-8 231 lbs Senior
9 Jarron Coleman 6-5 213 lbs Senior
1 Sam Hoiberg 6-0 183 lbs Sophomore
11 Eli Rice 6-8 213 lbs Freshman
21 Matar Diop 6-10 213 lbs Freshman
31 Cale Jacobsen 6-4 200 lbs RS Freshman
24 Jeffrey Grace III 6-3 197 lbs Sophomore
It might be somewhat surprising that it's been over a decade since Nebraska has played a #1 team but given how dog-eat-dog the B1G conference can be, it's not shocking. Purdue hasn't just been winning, they've achieved their ranking by knocking off a who's who of the Top 25 with victories against Gonzaga, Tennessee, Marquette, Arizona, and Arkansas. They are a team squarely on the path to try and duplicate Virginia's feat of following up a shocking loss to a 16 seed with a National Championship.
Nebraska potentially has the offense to pull out the upset as their 3pt shooting has come alive with the start of conference play. Keisei Tominaga has scored in double digits in all 3 of his games vs Purdue; will be interested to see how much of their defensive focus is on denying him shots. The big question tonight likely is the defense of Nebraska as Indiana and Wisconsin have been able to exploit Nebraska's double-teaming scheme on the inside. With all the game tape Purdue has on Nebraska plus 4 days of prep, the Boilermakers will be quite capable of blowing this game wide open from the start. If Brice Williams can't make a go of it, Nebraska might be digging pretty deep into the bench in the first half.
Nebraska will need to nearly eliminate their turnovers, shoot lights out, and keep from fouling out to have a chance in this one. If they find a way, rush the court.
Prediction: Purdue 81 - Nebraska 74