Badger Basketball Preview: Purdue Boilermakers Edition

The Basics

Where: Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Indiana

When: Sunday, January 8th; 3:30 p.m. CT

Channel: CBS

Spread: Purdue -3

All-Time Series: Purdue leads 106-70

Last Meeting: Purdue won 90-81 on March 6, 2016

Projected Starting Lineups

20 Purdue Boilermakers (13-3, 2-1)

G P.J. Thompson – Jr. 5-10, 185 (7.7 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 3.6 apg)

G Carsen Edwards- Fr. 6-0, 190 (10.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.0 apg)

G Dakota Mathias- Jr. 6-4, 200 (9.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.9 apg)

F Vince Edwards- Jr. 6-8, 225 (12.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 3.8 apg)

F Caleb Swanigan- So. 6-9, 250 (18.3 ppg, 12.9 rpg, 2.8 apg)

13 Wisconsin Badgers (13-2, 2-0)

G Bronson Koenig- Sr. 6-3, 190 (14.3 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 1.9 apg)

G Zak Showalter- Sr. 6-3, 185 (8.5 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.1 apg)

F Nigel Hayes- Sr. 6-8, 240 (13.7 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 3.2 apg)

F Vitto Brown- Sr. 6-8, 235 (7.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.2 apg)

C Ethan Happ- So. 6-10, 232 (13.1 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 2.8 apg)

Biggest Matchup: Ethan Happ versus Caleb Swanigan

The matchup in the paint between Happ and Swanigan will not only decide the game, but it will also have a huge impact on the Big Ten Player of the Year race. Both big men have had great seasons so far, and appear to be the frontrunners to take home the hardware. Swanigan is putting up video game numbers, averaging 18.3 points and 12.9 rebounds, while shooting 55% from the field and 40% from three.

While Happ’s raw stats aren’t quite as impressive, his impact on the game is. He has the second highest Player Efficiency Rating in all of college basketball. He also leads the team in Usage, effective field goal percentage, offensive rebound percentage, defensive rebound percentage, assist percentage, and steal percentage. On offense, the Badgers are at their best when they play through him. For that reason, he is now becoming a staple on National Player of the Year watch lists.

The battle between Wisconsin and Purdue will be fun. But the battle of the elite big men is why every college basketball fan in the country should be tuning in on Sunday.


3 Numbers to Know

0– That is the number of KenPom top-25 wins the Badgers have. In addition, their best win, at Indiana, may continue to lose luster if they continue to struggle. For that reason, Wisconsin is finding themselves in the 5-7 seed range in most NCAA Tournament bracket projections. Obviously if they continue to win, that will go up. But if they want to have any serious shot at earning a number one or two seed, they are going to need some marquee wins. With the Big Ten as weak as it as the top this season, this game at Purdue will be one of their only chances.

5– That is number of Purdue players that shoot over 40% from three-point range. With Swanigan and 7-2 6th man Isaac Haas in the post and a plethora of shooters on the perimeter, Purdue’s inside-outside offense is downright lethal. Wisconsin struggled to defend it last season, allowing 90 points in a road loss close to the end of the season.

21– That is Purdue’s KenPom offensive and defensive adjusted efficiency ranking this season. Overall, they are ranked 15th. For comparison, Wisconsin is 12th on offense, 18th on defense, and 11th overall. These teams are evenly matched, with the hostile Mackey Arena making Purdue a slight favorite.


There aren’t many things in the Big Ten tougher to do than winning at Mackey Arena. In order for the Badgers to pull it off, they are going to have to bring their “A” game for all 40 minutes, which is something they have yet to do this year. They are are capable of doing it, but Swanigan and Haas are going to be too tough for Wisconsin to stop, giving the Boilermakers a narrow victory.

Purdue 78- Wisconsin 74