Madison, WI (SportsNetwork.com) - With the possibility of improving their seeding in the upcoming Big Ten Conference Tournament, the Purdue Boilermakers visit the ninth-ranked Wisconsin Badgers on Wednesday night.
This is the final week of the regular season, and Purdue is a game over .500 (15-14), with the bulk of its losses coming against conference foes (5-11). As for Wisconsin, it held out hope of winning the Big Ten title all season long, but the Michigan Wolverines claimed their first outright conference crown in nearly three decades, thus relegating the Badgers (24-5, 11-5) to second-place status, should they win their final two games of the regular season.
Purdue has won just twice since going on a three-game win streak from Jan. 12-21, suffering a total of nine losses since. The Boilermakers dropped an 83-76 decision at Iowa this past Sunday for their fourth straight setback, and they fell to just 2-7 in true road games. Purdue, which is 0-7 against ranked foes this season, closes the campaign at home against Northwestern this Sunday.
Wisconsin is riding a seven-game win streak into tonight's fray, with its most recent triumph coming in a 71-66 decision at Penn State this past Sunday. The Badgers have won 13 of their 16 home games, and they'll bring the curtain down on the regular season at Nebraska this Sunday.
Purdue owns a commanding 105-66 lead in the all-time series with Wisconsin, but the Badgers won the first meeting this season on the Boilermakers' home court on Jan. 25, 72-58.
Purdue is nearly even in terms of scoring margin (+1.2), and there are three players averaging double figures led by Terone Johnson and his 12.1 ppg. Ronnie Johnson (11.0 ppg, 3.7 apg) and A.J. Hammons (10.6 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 3.0 bpg) both do more than score, with the former serving as the team's set up man, and the latter its primary interior presence. The Boilermakers typically win the rebounding battle (+3.6), but lose out on turnovers (-0.3).
Hammons was his usual productive self in the recent loss at Iowa, as he finished with a line of 16 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks. Raphael Davis was the team's high scorer, netting 18 points. Ronnie Johnson was guilty of seven of the team's 16 turnovers, which made its 49.1 percent shooting effort a moot point. As for the Hawkeyes, they used a 26-14 edge in points from the foul line to help offset a lackluster shooting effort (.433) and a sizable rebounding deficit (40-33).
While not as dominant defensively as in years past, Wisconsin still makes its opponents work for every basket, as foes are netting just 63.6 ppg while the Badgers themselves net almost 10 points more (73.3 ppg). UW is extremely careful with the basketball, coughing it up only 8.1 times per outing, a figure that leads the nation. The Badgers boast four double-digit scorers among its starting rotation, led by Sam Dekker and his 13.4 ppg. Dekker is also the club's top glass cleaner (6.4 rpg), and he is followed closely in both categories by Frank Kaminsky (13.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg). Backcourt mates Ben Brust and Traevon Jackson account for 12.6 and 10.8 ppg, respectively, with the latter also acting as the team's floor general with his 113 assists.
Josh Gasser was high man for Wisconsin in the recent win at Penn State, as he hit three 3-pointers en route to 15 points, while Brust tallied 14 points and five rebounds, and Jackson pitched in with 13 points and five helpers. The Badgers shot 44 percent from the floor, going 8-of-24 from beyond the arc, and they converted 19-of-24 free throws. As for the Nittany Lions, they made good on 48.3 percent of their total shots, but missed all but one of their 13 long- range launches. They also scored only nine points at the foul line.