– For what I believe (correct me if I’m wrong, basketball historians) is the first time in history, MSU is on a 3 game win streak at Mackey Arena. The program had never won more than 2 consecutive road games at Purdue prior to the current run. They’ve also won 4 of the last 5 in that building, have beaten Purdue 7 consecutive times overall and 8 of the last 10. All of those numbers are unprecedented in MSU basketball history.
– For many reasons, not least of which are those numbers above, I expect Purdue is going to be absolutely jacked for Tuesday’s game. For those of us with some age under our belts, it’s easy to think about how tough a building that has been for MSU and everyone else in this league historically (MSU is 18-40 all time at Purdue, which is actually not *that* bad, considering how good Purdue has been). Much like Iowa, you have a team full of kids who don’t know what it’s like to beat MSU and that is a big deal. Add in recent recruiting drama between the two programs and you have the makings of a frenzied atmosphere.
– The biggest, most interesting matchup to me is going to be Zel vs. Raphael Davis. Davis is generally regarded as the best individual defender in the league and physically, he’s a guy who can hang with Valentine. Zel has been great lately but he’s been living on Easy Street in terms of the defense he’s faced. On Tuesday night, he’s going to face probably the stiffest individual challenge he’s had this year in terms of the way he’ll be guarded.
– The good news for MSU is that they have the physical tools to at least combat Purdue’s strength, their interior game. You can’t quite match Hammons and Haas in terms of height but Costello and Schilling have faced these guys before and held their own. Davis vs. Swanigan, which is how the game should start, will be another subplot worth paying attention to. I would expect both players to be highly motivated.
– Purdue shoots a lot of free throws but, not surprisingly, a lot of them come via low post activity. They’re not a team laden with high level dribble drive guards.
– I think the whistle is going to be very important, stating the obvious. Both teams want to play a physical game. If the officials let that happen, then it’ll come down to which team plays a tougher brand of basketball. If fouls are called closely, who knows what will happen? I think both teams are going to start the game trying to go at it…we’ll see if the stripes change that.