WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- It's there for the taking now for Purdue, that chance to finish in the top-four in the Big Ten and get a double-bye in next week's Big Ten Tournament.
But that means getting past No. 25 Wisconsin on Tuesday night, and that's never easy.
"Overall, they're just a really competitive group,'' Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "They have a very good mix of guys, and D'Mitrik Trice has really had a great year. It's just a really good team, and they're well coached by Greg Gard. They won the Big Ten as a group last year.''
Here's everything you need to know about Purdue's game with Wisconsin on Tuesday night:
- Who: Wisconsin Badgers (16-9, 10-8 in the Big Ten) at Purdue Boilermakers (16-8, 11-6 in the Big Ten).
- When: 9 p.m. ET, Tuesday, March 2.
- Where: Mackey Arena, West Lafayette, Ind.
- Latest Line: Purdue is a 2-point favorite according to the DraftKings.com website as of 10 a.m. on Friday.. The over/under was 127.5.
- Poll rankings: Purdue moved back into the Associated Press and Coaches top-25 polls this week, checking in at No. 23 in both polls. Wisconsin is No. 25 in the AP poll and No. 26 overall in the Coaches poll.
- Kenpom.com rankings: Purdue moved up seven spots to No. 13 in the Kenpom.com rankings, its highest ranking all year, after beating Penn State last Friday. Wisconsin is ranked No. 11.
- Last time out: Purdue beat Penn State 73-52 last Friday in one of their most impressive road victories of the season. Wisconsin lost 74-69 at home to Illinois on Saturday.
- Series history: Purdue leads the overall series, 110-72.
- Last meeting: The two teams last played in Madison on Feb. 18, 2020, with Wisconsin winning 69-65. The Badgers made 12 three-pointers in that game. Purdue won the earlier game in West Lafayette in January, winning 70-51.
- TV: ESPN
- Announcers: Dave Flemming (play-by-play) and Chris Spatola (color commentary).
- Radio: Purdue Radio Network
- Announcers: Rob Blackmon and Bobby Riddell
Here are three things to look out for on Tuesday against Wisconsin:
1. Keep D'Mitrik Trice in check
Wisconsin guard D'mitrik Trice can literally take over a game at any time. He destroyed Indiana earlier in a double-overtime win and scored 19 points in two-plus minutes in the loss to Illinois over the weekend. Purdue can't let him go wild on Tuesday night either.
Trice, a 6-foot senior guard who's averaging 14.1 points and 3.9 assists per game, is one of the toughest matchups in the league, but Purdue has a stopper in Eric Hunter Jr., who's one of the best on-ball defenders in the league.
"He's been good in our league since he's been here,'' Hunter said. "He's respected as a scorer and a point guard, and you definitely have to put him up there with some of the best (in the Big Ten).''
2. Hit 3-pointers consistently
When Purdue has gotten beat lately, it's usually because of poor three-point shooting. They need to get off to a good start from deep on Tuesday, and it helps that junior guard Sasha Stefanovic is back in the starting lineup, where he seems much more comfortable than he did coming off the bench after his stint on the COVID list.
Purdue is 9-3 in their last 12 games, but the common thread in those three losses was that the Boilermakers were a combined 8-for-46 from three, a brutal 17.4 percent. They can't have a night like that, especially in the comforts of Mackey. And if they can get rolling early, they could run away with this one.
3. Do NOT be looking ahead
Purdue closes on its regular season on Saturday with a home game against Indiana, a team they have been dominating for five years now. The rivalry game is always huge, but the Boilers can't be peaking ahead, because they need to win BOTH of these games to assure a No. 4 seed in the Big Ten Tournament and that all-important double bye.
Even with such a young team, Purdue has been very good all year in sticking to the task at hand. Wisconsin games are usually played at a slower pace, but the Boilers have the guys who can attack the basket.