Davidson and Purdue will take the floor in the opening game of the Wooden Tradition in Indianapolis on Saturday with a common goal—looking for that first marquee win of the season.
Each team is in the rankings based more on what they did last year than what they have done so far this year. Purdue, the Big Ten favorite, is 0-2 against ranked opponents so far this year, with an overtime loss to Oklahoma in the NIT Tip-Off final, and a home loss to Duke.
The Wildcats, who made a remarkable run to the Elite Eight a year ago, also lost a tight game to the Sooners in the NIT Tip-Off.
All discussion of Davidson starts with the phenomenal Stephen Curry. Curry is averaging almost 32 points per game, nearly five points more than anyone else in the nation. But Curry isn't just a scorer. He also averages 6.8 assists per game, placing him among the nation's leaders in that category as well.
Defending him will be job one for Purdue, and when the Boilers need to clamp down on someone, they turn to G Chris Kramer. Kramer's goal will be to harass and get a little physical with the slightly-built Curry. The idea will be to wear him down, make him work for every shot and to make him shoot a low percentage. If he gets 25, but needs to take 40 shots to make it happen, so be it. The Boilers will be happy with that.
Purdue also needs to make sure the other guys don't get off, especially 6'7" F Andrew Lovedale, who averages a double-double. Lovedale aside, the Boilermaker front line players, 6'11" JaJuan Johnson, 6'9" Nemanja Calasan and 6'7" Robbie Hummel should have a big advantage over the smaller Wildcats, but so far this season, Purdue has been outrebounded by about 3 boards per game.
Another big problem for Purdue that could haunt them in this game is turnovers. The Boilers only average about 12 per game, but have had at least 19 in three of their last five outings. Davidson forces about 8.5 more turnovers per game than they commit. The Boilers cannot afford to give the Wildcats a lot of easy baskets.
If Purdue takes care of the ball, Hummel and G E'Twaun Moore will be difficult for Davidson to match up with defensively. The Wildcats figure to throw their stopper, 6' 6" Max Paulhus Gosselin, at Hummel. If Davidson decides to use Curry on Moore, Purdue could help wear Curry down by making him work on the defensive end of the floor. They could also attack him and try to get him in foul trouble. Bryant Barr may get the assignment instead.
Purdue is also hoping Keaton Grant's shooting touch returns. After a breakout season last year, he is only shooting 32 percent from the floor this year. He may still be feeling the effects of off-season knee surgery.
I will be covering this game with a live blog at CollegeRPI.com, so join in and follow along.