Purdue, IU meet again with the stakes much different
Last time IU and Purdue met on the hardwood at Assembly Hall on Feb. 8, the Hoosiers had zero momentum.
Their tournament hopes were slipping away and the return of legendary coach Bob Knight was supposed to be a spark to right the ship on the season.
None of that happened, as Purdue blew out Indiana despite Knight’s homecoming, cementing questions whether IU would miss the NCAA Tournament for a fourth straight year. It also pushed the Hoosiers’ losing streak to five games.
Indiana would rebound in the games to follow, defeating then no. 21 Iowa at home, getting blown out at Michigan before a big win on the road at Minnesota and a win over a then no. 9 Penn State.
The unexpected reversal has projected the Hoosiers back into the tournament.
Meanwhile, the Boilers have tumbled since that big win on the road. Purdue has lost four straight, with two on the road at Ohio State and Wisconsin and two at home to Penn State and Michigan.
The losses at Mackey Arena are most surprising, as the Boilers now have four on the season at one of the toughest places to play in the country. The last time that happened was the 2013-14 season, when Purdue finished last in the conference. Following that season, the Boilers lost just four Big Ten home games through the end of last season.
Purdue is 9-1 against Indiana in the last ten meetings, and Archie Miller has never defeated the Boilers in his tenure. And when the Boilers get hot at home like they have this season, they have been unstoppable, blowing out teams like the defending national champion in Virginia, offensive juggernaut Iowa and preseason Big Ten favorite Michigan State.
Indiana also struggles on the road, going just 2-6 in road games this season.
Tonight, a rivalry is renewed. For Purdue, it’s a must win for tournament chances that are clinging to life. For Indiana, it’s an opportunity to break a streak and nearly lock themselves into the field of 68.