The top-ranked Purdue Boilermakers will face the Ohio State Buckeyes while trying to recover from its first loss of the season.
TV Schedule: Thursday, January 5, 7:00 PM ET, FS1
Location: Value City Arena in Columbus, OH
When the week started, it appeared the Purdue Boilermakers would march into Value City Arena as an undefeated squad, the best candidate to be declared the best team in the land and worthy of its No. 1 ranking in the AP poll. That’s no longer the case.
On Monday night, the Boilermakers suffered their first defeat of the season, a home loss to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. It was the second time in as many years that Rutgers knocked off Purdue in a close game, following Ron Harper Jr.’s memorable buzzer beater from last season.
Now, Purdue is faced with the potential of a two-loss week. Going to Columbus is never a joke and these Ohio State Buckeyes are exceeding expectations this season.
Despite no Big Ten teams playing more than three conference games to this point, only three teams haven’t suffered a loss in league play yet: Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio State. One of the Buckeyes’ wins came in highly controversial fashion against those same Scarlet Knights. The other came at Northwestern.
Sometimes, teams can be compared by looking at their performance against a common foe, in this case, Rutgers. But that doesn’t work here. Both games were incredibly close, one-point differences at the end. Were it not for a controversial call that favored Ohio State, both teams would’ve lost to Rutgers by one shot. So let’s discard that.
Purdue’s biggest strength is its big man, Zach Edey. When the 7-foot-4 center is at his best, there are very few teams that can consistently stop him. He’s making a serious run at National Player of the Year and is pacing one of the best offensive-rebounding teams in the country.
Ohio State doesn’t have anyone who can match Edey’s size, but the Buckeyes’ wings can bang around with anyone. Zed Key is looking like a star, as is rising freshman sensation Bryce Sensabaugh. Justice Sueing rounds out a strong positional group.
During Chris Holtmann’s tenure in Columbus, the Buckeyes have played the nation’s top-ranked team twice. They won both of those games, each of which was played at home.
Ohio State has also yet to lose at home this season in seven games. The crowd at Value City Arena should be raucous as the Buckeyes make their case to join the elite of the Big Ten.
Purdue is not in trouble this season by any means. The Big Ten is a gauntlet, with the capability of putting 10 teams into the NCAA Tournament. Every team – even the best of them – are going to take their knocks in league play.
Ultimately, the home court advantage should be strong enough to propel Ohio State over the tower that is Zach Edey and towards a minor upset and send Purdue reeling with two straight losses.
Prediction: Ohio State 70, Purdue 68