Nebraska (14-17) vs. Purdue (15-16)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, March 14, 6:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: United Center (20,917) -- Chicago, Illinois. Television: EPSN2. Home Record: Nebraska 11-7, Purdue 11-6. Away Record: Nebraska 2-10, Purdue 4-7. Neutral Record: Nebraska 1-0, Purdue 0-3. Conference Record: Nebraska 5-13, Purdue 8-10. Series Record: Purdue leads, 9-2.
GAME NOTES: Pitted against each other for the second time in as many years, the Nebraska Cornhuskers go up against the Purdue Boilermakers in the opening round of the 16th annual Big Ten Conference Tournament at the United Center in Chicago on Thursday.
Last year, the first for the Huskers in the conference, the teams also collided in the postseason, with Purdue producing a 79-61 triumph in Indianapolis.
Speaking of the Boilermakers, the seventh seed in this year's tournament, they've won the event just once with a 65-61 decision over Ohio State back in 2009, the first time the team was even in the championship round since losing to Michigan in the first-ever tourney back in 1998.
In terms of the 2012-13 regular-season, not since the middle of January have the Boilermakers won back-to-back decisions, taking out Penn State and this same Nebraska squad. More recently the team delivered an 89-73 win versus Minnesota at home over the weekend, giving the group an 8-10 conference mark.
As for the 10th-seeded Cornhuskers, previously members of the Big 12 Conference before coming over in advance of the 2011-12 campaign, they started off this regular season well enough with six wins in seven tries, but once the conference schedule kicked into high gear Nebraska was lost. Overall, the team posted a 5-13 league mark, with two of those wins coming against Penn State which finished all alone at the bottom of the standings.
Purdue owns a 9-2 record all-time versus the Huskers, dating back to 1948. The most recent clash took place in Lincoln in the middle of January where the Boilermakers came up with a 65-56 win, their fifth in a row in the series.
The winner this time around will continue in the tournament and face second- seeded Ohio State in the quarterfinals on Friday evening.
In conference play this season the Huskers had very little success as they generated a mere 56.3 ppg while shooting 38.2 percent from the floor. Dylan Talley was the top scorer with 14.4 ppg and Ray Gallegos checked in with 12.6 ppg which made sense since they were the only two to start all 18 conference outings. However, both shot under 39.0 percent from the floor, the latter coming in at a mere 33.2 percent. Brandon Ubel (9.6 ppg) and Shavon Shields (9.2 ppg) managed to throw their weight around in the paint in order to combine for close to 13 rpg, but the team overall was still beaten on the glass by an average of 7.5 rpg.
The Boilermakers had three players start every conference game this season, but still the program experienced only marginal success against the rest of the Big Ten. Terone Johnson topped the scoring chart for the squad with his 14.2 ppg, while A.J. Hammons chipped in with another 11.4 ppg while also leading the way on the glass with better than six and a half rebounds per game. A force in the paint for sure, Hammons also logged 42 of the unit's 82 blocked shots which is something the Huskers need to keep in mind. Also putting up double figures in conference were Ronnie Johnson and D.J. Byrd with 10.3 and 10.1 ppg, respectively, the latter responsible for 46 of the team's 78 triples.
Obviously Nebraska would prefer to keep the scoring to a minimum, but if the Boilermakers have anything to say about the pace, the Huskers could be out of the running rather early.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Purdue 75, Nebraska 61
03/14 10:36:37 ET