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Friday, March 9, 8:55 p.m. (ET)
The Sports Network
By Nicholas DeLorenzo, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bankers Life Fieldhouse (18,345) -- Indianapolis, Indiana. Television: Big Ten Network. Home Record: Purdue 13-4, OSU 18-2. Away Record: Purdue 5-5, OSU 7-4. Neutral Record: Purdue 3-2, OSU 0-0. Conference Record: Purdue 10-8, OSU 13-5. Series Record: Series is tied, 83-83.
GAME NOTES: The second-seeded Ohio State Buckeyes begin their quest for a third straight Big Ten Conference Tournament championship tonight when they take on the sixth-seeded Purdue Boilermakers in the quarterfinals.
Purdue breezed to a 79-61 victory over 11th-seeded Nebraska in its first-round matchup, and in the process has advanced to the quarterfinals for the sixth straight season. The triumph ups the Boilermakers' overall record to 21-11, which includes wins in four of their last five games.
Ohio State (25-6, 13-5 Big Ten) won the Big Ten regular-season championship for the third season in a row, but this year it had to share the honor with both Michigan and Michigan State, and by virtue of tie-breakers, earned the third seed in this event. The Buckeyes have been dominant in the Big Ten tourney under head coach Thad Matta, winning 14 of 18 games, including titles in 2007, 2010 and 2011.
Purdue fought hard in the only meeting with Ohio State this season in Columbus, but ultimately fell in an 87-84 final. With that win, the Buckeyes knotted the all-time series at 83-83.
Purdue was on top of its game in the first-round win over Nebraska, shooting an impressive 56 percent from the field, including an outstanding 13-of-25 showing from three-point range. Five Boilermakers reached double digits in scoring in the win, led by Anthony Johnson with a career-high 17 points on 7- of-10 field goal efficiency. Purdue possesses one of the Big Ten's best offenses, putting up 72.2 ppg on 44.2 percent shooting from the field. It is led by its All-Big Ten First Team honoree Robbie Hummel, who nets 16.6 ppg and grabs 7.0 rpg while also blocking more than one shot per contest. Lewis Jackson (10.3 ppg, 4.2 apg) and Ryne Smith (9.6 ppg, 85 three-pointers) have also been productive members of the scoring attack. The Boilermakers have taken great care of the basketball as well, sporting a turnover margin of +4.2.
The Big Ten is a conference where playing strong defense is a necessity to win, and Ohio State is a perfect example of that as the team rank second in the conference in scoring defense (58.5 ppg) and third in field goal percentage defense (.408). But the Buckeyes have been able to distance themselves from many other teams in the league by also filling the basket, ranking second in both scoring offense (74.6 ppg) and field goal percentage (.481). The stalwart for OSU all season long has been All-American Jared Sullinger. The 6-9 sophomore ranks third in the conference in scoring (16.9 ppg), seventh in field goal percentage (.535), and second in rebounding (9.3 rpg). The Buckeyes don't have to worry about defenses keying on Sullinger however, as they have two other potent scorers surrounding him in Deshaun Thomas and William Buford, the two averaging 15.1 ppg and 4.9 rpg apiece.
Just like the first matchup this season, this game is sure to be a hard-fought battle, but the extra rest for the Buckeyes will prove to be crucial.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ohio State 77, Purdue 72
03/09 10:33:13 ET
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