Seasons at a glance:
Wake Forest: 4-1. Offense: 78.4 ppg. Defense: 60.8 ppg. AP Rank: NR ESPN Rank: NR BP(Bald Prophet) Rank: NR RPI: 182 BPI(Bald Prophet Index): 94
Purdue: 5-0. Offense: 77 ppg. Defense: 59.4 ppg. AP Rank: 4 ESPN Rank: 6
BP Rank: 3 RPI: 29 BPI: 15
Wake Forest: Point guard Ishmael Smith is quietly having a solid season (11.8 ppg, 5.4 apg) and is coming off a double-double, though that came in the inexplicable home loss to William and Mary. However, he’s only shooting 47 percent from the line – a problem when you’re the primary ballhandler. C.J. Harris and L.D. Williams – aka the Initial Twins – combine to put up almost twenty points a game with Harris shooting over fifty percent. However, Harris averages more than three fouls a game – he needs to stay on the floor.
Purdue: Chris Kramer only averages five points a game but contributes so much on defense coach Matt Painter lets his lack of offensive production go. Besides, E’Twaun Moore leads the team in scoring with almost sixteen a pop. Keaton Grant can provide instant offense off the bench.
Wake Forest: Dino Gaudio thanks the heavens Al-Farouq Aminu came back. He is clearly the leader of the front line with his double-double average. Fellow precocious forward Ari Stewart has 20 ppg potential from the three spot but the Winston-Salem watchers may be growing tired of waiting for Chas McFarland to bring something to the table. Will backup Tony Woods step in sooner than later to man the pivot full-time?
Purdue: Robbie Hummel has overcome injuries and is the football frontcourt counterpart to Kramer. JaJuan Johnson is an intimidating presence in the middle and has already hit double figures in blocks for the year. However, if either of these studs get in foul trouble there are no offensive options to speak of unless Moore slides over to the three.
Wake Forest: Dino Gaudio inherited a difficult situation when he was named head coach in 2007. Since then he has won two-thirds of his games thanks to his philosophy of stifling defense. The guy even had success at Army, where they are more concerned with leading our country’s soldiers than winning ball games.
Purdue: Matt Painter also took over for a legend following a brief stint at Southern Illinois. Since 2005, the Boilers have improved every season and returned everyone from last season’s Sweet 16 squad, so expectations are at a fever pitch. They don’t turn the ball over and also play tough defense, staples of Painter’s game when he played at Purdue in the early 90s.
Purdue’s already survived a tough test in a neutral-court battle against Tennessee but this will be no easy task against Wake Forest’s tall timber. Johnson has to play more than 35 minutes tonight to battle Aminu in what should be the key matchup, but Harris and Williams are likely to have their hands full guarding Moore. That should be the difference in a Purdue victory.
Final Score: Purdue 71, Wake Forest 62.
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