Purdue and Alabama will head to the Great White North Saturday afternoon in a key early season non-conference matchup as both look to add resume building wins.
TV schedule: Saturday, December 9th, 1:30pm ET, FOX
Arena: Coca-Cola Coliseum, Toronto, Ontario
The Boilermakers and Crimson Tide have gotten off to solid starts on the year, as they sit at 8-1 and 6-2, respectively. One slight difference is the fact that Purdue has a ‘4’ next to their name and Alabama is unranked. A major question mark following their upset loss to FDU last season was how the Purdue guards would be able to handle added pressure coming into this season. Alabama has the guards to give them issues, so let’s dive into the matchup.
Zach Edey is off to a ridiculous start as he continues his campaign to repeat as National Player of the Year averaging 24 ppg and 11 rebounds. It’s hard to stop Edey on a night when he isn’t motivated, but during a game in Toronto that serves as a homecoming for him? Good luck. Look for the Boilermakers to feed him the ball early and often, as Alabama does not have the means to contain him. Fletcher Loyer has been a bright spot so far this year, as he has shown the ability to really punish teams that choose to leave him open.
The addition of Lance Jones has given the backcourt another handler to help out Braden Smith, and teams have not been able to turn them over as much as people predicted coming into the season. Jones, Loyer and Smith have been shooting well, statistically, to start the year, but they will need to knock down more open looks down the stretch in close games if Purdue wants to end the year in Phoenix.
I don’t know what to think of Alabama; on one hand, they can score points in bunches. But, on the other hand, they struggle to defend anyone who runs a competent offense. According to KenPom, they have the 2nd overall offense, but just the 71st ranked defense. They will need to sure things up on that end of the floor if they want to hang tough in this game and in the SEC. Aaron Estrada has been awesome for the Tide early on, averaging 16.1ppg to complement Mark Sears, who sits at 19.8 ppg. They should be able to put up points in this one, but I am worried about how they matchup defensively with the Boilermakers.
Grant Nelson is one of the key pieces for this Alabama team, but he is way out of his league when it comes to Zach Edey. Edey will want to show off for his hometown, and with Nick Pringle now suspended, the Tide have less bodies on the bench that they can toss onto the court to stop the basketball playing behemoth. Sears and Estrada will both put up a lot of points, but I think at some point Purdue will be able to run away with this one.
Prediction: Purdue: 86, Alabama: 71