GAME OF THE NIGHT: (8) Purdue 15-1 (4-0) at (25) Minnesota 12-4 (1-3)
Robbie Hummel was supposed to be a National Player of the Year Candidate for Purdue this season. Unfortunately, another ACL injury cost him his season.
The Boilermaker senior leadership banded the team together, and Purdue has gotten off to a great start in the Big Ten.
However, this trip to "The Barn," in my opinion, is the toughest game on the slate thus far for Purdue.
Minnesota is 1-3 in the Big Ten, but it's lost all three of those games on the road to ranked opponents: Wisconsin, Michigan State and Ohio State.
It starts with a pair of senior leaders: guard E'Twaun Moore and forward JaJuan Johnson, the heart and soul of Purdue.
Moore is silky-smooth with the ball in his hands. He can penetrate and create his own shot and possesses a fine floater when he gets in the lane. He's averaging 18.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 3.1 apg and 1.7 spg.
JaJuan is an athletic forward with a huge wingspan. He's great finishing on the break. He also has an array of moves in his post game and can step out and hit a jump shot. Johnson averages 19.4 ppg, 8.3 rpg and 2.5 bpg.
Role players like Ryne Smith, Kelsey Barlow, Terone Johnson, Lewis Jackson and D.J. Byrd have all stepped up.
Purdue plays tough, in your face, man-to-man defense.
"The Barn" is an 82-year-old facility, but it's one of the toughest places to play in in the country. The floor is raised two feet off the ground, so coaches and players sit below the playing surface. The only other raised floor in college basketball is at Vanderbilt.
The Golden Gophers have a balanced attack—solid both inside and outside.
Blake Hoffarber, Trevor Mbakwe and Ralph Sampson III all average double digits in scoring.
Al Nolen has been good at the point guard position. His greatest asset is his ability to create turnovers. He averages 3.7 apg.
The story for Minnesota has been the stellar play of the 240-pounder inside, Trevor Mbakwe. Mbakwe returned to team practice on Monday after being sidelined for an assault accusation.
Mbakwe is a fantastic rebounder who averages 10.4 rpg and 13.4 ppg.
The matchup inside of Mbakwe and Johnson will be fun to watch.
PREDICTION: Min 56-54
THE BEST OF THE REST
CAA: Old Dominion 12-3 (3-1) at Drexel 10-4 (2-2)
If Drexel wins this one, is it possible that the Colonial can get two bids for the NCAA Tournament?
Old Dominion is the favorite, but Drexel has an impressive road win at Louisville that it can count on come Selection Sunday.
In order for Drexel to have a shot at the Big Dance, I think it has to go at least 13-3/12-4 in conference play and get to the final of the CAA Conference Tournament.
Drex: 64-62 OT
ACC: Virginia Tech 10-4 (1-1) at North Carolina 11-4 (1-0)
The team always on the bubble in the Hokies visits Chapel Hill. This would be a nice road win for Tech.
Pac-10: (18) Washington 12-3 (4-0) at Stanford 9-5 (2-1)
Interesting road test against Stanford.
BEast: Providence 11-6 (0-4) at West Virginia 10-4 (2-2)
The Mountaineers have to take care of business at home against an inferior opponent.
A10: Rhode Island 9-6 (0-1) at Richmond 13-4 (2-0)
The Rams haven't gotten off the quick start they've been accustomed to the last couple of years.
The Spiders have felt the effects of the loss of guard David Gonzalvez. He and Kevin Anderson complemented each other well.
I expect Richmond to patch things up in conference play and once again be an at-large selection to the tournament.
ASun: Lipscomb 9-6 (4-2) at Belmont 14-3 (6-0)
The two best teams, in my opinion, in the Atlantic Sun do battle.
Lipscomb has forward Adnan Hodzic, the favorite to win the A-Sun Player of the Year award for the second straight year.
Belmont is the team that almost shocked Duke as a 15th seed in the first round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament. They lost to Tennessee by just a point earlier this season.
BSouth: Winthrop 7-8 (3-2) at Coastal Carolina 14-2 (5-0)
Just like in the Atlantic Sun, the two best teams in the Big South meet up.
The Chanticleers are a potential 14/15 seed in the NCAA Tournament if they win their conference tournament. They have the size inside to hang with a BCS team in a potential first round encounter.
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