These teams enter this game as opposites. Xavier lost almost everybody from last year’s NCAA tournament team, while Purdue returns virtually everybody. The point spread is huge at -17.5 in favor of Purdue, and that’s a lot against a program like Xavier.
As they have so much experience returning, this Boilermakers squad is much simpler to analyze. Edey remains on their roster, while 7-foot-2 freshman big man Will Berg has recently been added.
Berg and Edey will cause frontcourts plenty of problems throughout the season and should use this matchup to impose their will on opponents’ inside games. Both should dominate on the glass and eliminate any chance for offensive scoring on their end of the court.
Purdue has made an immediate statement with its limited action thus far, clearly showing why they’re the top team on KenPom. Specifically, they lead in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency while ranking seventh for Defensive Efficiency.
These numbers come from small samples sizes, yet it is impressive that they’ve shot 46% from beyond the arc! If they consistently hit their threes, this team could become dangerous when March rolls around.
It’s astounding the amount of talent this Xavier team lost last season – Colby Jones, Jack Nunge, Souley Boum, and Adam Kunkel, to name only some key departures.
That is of most concern going into this matchup since the Musketeers are playing in an unfamiliar environment early in the year with a roster that has yet to gel properly.
However, I do believe this offense can find success. Based on what we’ve seen in the data points collected thus far, I think there will be opportunities to score outside.
Purdue’s defense can be broken by forcing Edey out of his comfort zone, with one way being to take him outside the paint and screen him into mismatches with powerful ball handlers.
McKnight, of Western Kentucky transfer, is an exceptional ball handler with the offensive repertoire to put Edey on skates. I expect Sean Miller will utilize ball screens extensively so as to create as many mismatches as possible.
Too many questions exist around Xavier; there is no way to know how they stand up against Purdue. So, with that being said, I will bet the under in this game, as it seems a little high to me.
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