Indiana Basketball: A rivalry renews as Hoosiers look to upset No. 2 Purdue

Mike Woodson and the Hoosiers look to pull the upset against the #2 Boilermakers at Assembly Hall.

Minnesota v Indiana
Minnesota v Indiana / Andy Lyons/GettyImages
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In 49 states, it’s just basketball. But this is Indiana.

A rivalry as old as time renews as the Indiana Hoosiers take on the No. 2 Purdue Boilermakers on Tuesday night in Bloomington. The matchup is marked by history, tradition, and passion as two of college basketball’s most storied programs go head-to-head.

When Mike Woodson took the helm in Bloomington, Purdue had dominated the rivalry for many years. They won 12 of 13 games against the Hoosiers dating back to 2014. Since becoming head coach, Woodson has gone 3-1 against the Boilermakers, including a win in West Lafayette for the first time in 10 years. After many years of Purdue domination, Woodson and Indiana turned the tide and made the matchup a true rivalry.

Indiana enters this highly-anticipated matchup with inconsistent performances to kick off 2024. After a dreadful performance against Rutgers in Piscataway, the Hoosiers bounced back with a complete performance on Friday night. They defeated Minnesota by a score of 74-62, ending the Golden Gophers’ seven-game winning streak. Mgbako, Reneau, Ware, and Galloway scored in double-digits in the victory.

For yet another year, Purdue is having an incredible regular season. Despite having a disastrous 2023 NCAA tournament, the Boilermakers returned most of the squad that won both the Big Ten regular season and Big Ten Tournament this past season. They currently sit at a 15-2 overall record, which includes an undefeated record in a grueling non-conference schedule.

Their only two losses came in Big Ten play against Northwestern and Nebraska. Due to their most recent loss to the Cornhuskers, Purdue dropped to second in the AP Poll after being first for four straight weeks. They have a strong resume that includes wins against #1 Arizona, #4 Marquette, #7 Tennessee, #9 Illinois, and #11 Gonzaga.

Purdue is ranked 3rd in the country in KenPom, with the Hoosiers far below at 91st. The Boilermakers have a high-octane offense, ranking second in the Big Ten with 85.0 points per game. They are at the top of the Big Ten in both field goal and three-point percentage, shooting 49.4% and 39.8%, respectively. A strong rebounding squad, Purdue is second in the conference in both rebounds per game and opponent rebounds per game.

“Well, you’ve got to block out,” Woodson said regarding rebounding. “That’s just basic basketball...We’re going to have to do that tomorrow night because they’ve got a big team and they’re scrappy.”

After dominating college basketball during the 2022-23 season, 7’4” center Zach Edey decided to return to Purdue and has picked up right where he left off. Edey is averaging 22.3 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per contest. He is putting up these numbers on 64.5% from the field and in just under 30 minutes per game. Edey is well on his way to winning his second-straight Naismith College Player of the Year award.

In addition to Edey, guards Fletcher Loyer and Braden Smith have made giant leaps in their sophomore seasons. Smith is averaging 12.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and is second in the Big Ten with 6.9 assists per game. He is shooting 47.3% from the field, 80.0% from the free throw line, and a remarkable 48.2% from three. Loyer is averaging 11.0 points of his own on 40.0% from the field, 90.0% from the stripe, and 40.0% from behind the arc. The duo’s effective shooting has lowered the pressure on Edey and allowed Purdue to space the floor on offense.

As a former player, coach Mike Woodson understands how much this rivalry means to Hoosiers all across Indiana.

“I think it’s great for college basketball. They have their fan base and we have our fan base...It doesn’t matter who we put in Assembly Hall, our fans have been great all these years and that’s never going to change.”

Assembly Hall is sure to be rocking as Indiana looks to upset Purdue for their third straight time. The Hoosiers have yet to achieve a true signature win, but they get the perfect chance on Tuesday night against one of the nation’s best. Indiana will look to write the next chapter in this historic rivalry and take down the mighty Boilermakers once again.