#15 Purdue takes on Wisconsin Sunday night at 7:30 and the game will be televised on the Big Ten Network. Purdue (23-7, 11-6) is coming off a victory on the road over Nebraska Tuesday night 81-62. Wisconsin (20-10, 12-5) was also on the road earlier this week and beat Minnesota 62-49. This will be the rematch of a game won by Purdue in Madison on December 29th, 61-55.
It will be an emotional night in Mackey Arena as Purdue will be saying bye to three four-year players and one, fifth-year senior.
Rapheal Davis, A.J. Hammons, Stephen Toyra, and Johnny Hill will all be playing their final game in Mackey. This class as seniors has gone from a last place finish in the Big Ten two years ago to being ranked in the top 25 all year this year. This class has been through a lot and it would be great for them to be able to leave their home court for the last time with a win.
Wisconsin will not make that easy for the Boilers. Wisconsin has been the surprise team of the Big Ten. A lot of people left them for dead after losing at home in the non-conference to Western Illinois, Milwaukee, and Marquette. They finished the non-conference with a record of 9-5. Then during Christmas break, long time coach, Bo Ryan, resigned and longtime assistant coach Greg Gard took over before the Big Ten season started. Since then, they have gone 12-5 in the conference and have won 11 of their last 12 games. They are one of, if not the hottest team in the Big Ten.
Wisconsin is led by forward Nigel Hayes. He is averaging 16.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.1 assists a game. It will be imperative for Caleb Swanigan/ Vince Edwards to keep him out of the paint and force him to score from the outside. Two other players to watch for Wisconsin are guard Bronson Koenig (13.7 ppg, 41% from three) and forward/center Ethan Happ (11.9 ppg, 7.9 rpg).
This is an important game for Purdue with the Big Ten Tournament coming up. A win will put them in the two through four seed line and a double bye in the tournament. A loss will put them in the six through eight seed line and a much tougher road to go through in the tournament. There is a lot at stake for both teams going into the final game of the regular season in the Big Ten.
It should be an emotional night in Mackey, and I look for the Boilers to come in focused and ready to play.