Washington has its work cut out for them on Saturday when they play a second round game against the Purdue Boilermakers. Purdue is a much better team than Mississippi State and they present a more challenging matchup.
Purdue is as fundamentally a sound team as the Huskies have faced this season. The Boilermakers are physical, strong, and they are tough. They are a patient team like WSU that doesn't take bad shots. They play solid defense and have the type of depth that matches up well with Washington.
Purdue made 27 three pointers in three conference tourney victories and was guilty of only 17 total turnovers in 120 minutes of action. The Boilermakers won the Big Ten Tournament and finished second in the regular season. Purdue was the pre season pick to win the Big Ten and they seem to be reaching that potential at the end of the season.
Purdue is led by small forward Robbie Hummel who is getting closer to 100 percent after battling a stress fracture in his lower back. The 6-foot-8 Hummel averaged 16 points and 9.3 rebounds in Big Ten tournament action and was selected the event's MVP. 6-10 sophomore center JaJuan Johnson teams with Hummel to give the Boilermakers a large profile on the front line.
Guard E'Twaun Moore is more than capable of putting the ball in the basket and defending on the perimeter. He averaged 14 points a game this season and scored 17 in the Big Ten championship game against Ohio State.
His backcourt mates Keaton Grant and Lewis Jackson aren't big time scorers but they have enough speed to be able to compete with the quickness Washington will bring to the table.
As far as depth goes the Boilermakers use a rotation of eight solid players so fatigue shouldn't be a factor in this one if they are able to control the tempo. Like WSU and UCLA the Boilermakers win when they control the tempo.
What does this all translate to on Saturday?
Washington will go with a bigger lineup to counter the big Purdue front line. Expect to see more of Matthew Bryan Amaning teaming up with Brockman and Pondexter earlier in this one.
Brockman is a beast on the boards and he will surely get another double-double on Saturday no matter how well Purdue plays. The key up front will be how much help he gets from his front line mates. Both MBA and Pondexter are coming off a solid game against MSU if that is any indication.
On the outside Washington needs to apply the same type of pressure that they did to disrupt Mississippi State. Venoy Overton will once again be key in this one when it comes to disrupting the Boilermakers. MSU was an excellent three point shooting team but Washington's defense out on the perimeter took that out of the game. Purdue can also shoot the long ball so UW needs to apply pressure to take that away.
If Purdue can't hit from the outside they still will have a strong inside game to counter. Make no mistake this team is much stronger inside than Mississippi State.
I watched the victory over Northern Iowa today and I think the Huskies have the overall edge in quickness and I think that will be the deciding factor in the game. UW will have to start shooting better from the outside which means Thomas and Dentmon who are both due need to step up in this one.
I think it will be close game but I am picking Washington by 6 points in this one. I think the pressure on the perimeter from our guards, the muscle of Brockman, and the finesse of Pondexter will be the deciding factor. I just don't think the Boilermakers will be able to deal with our pressure on the point and I would pick Brockman over any big man in this tournament.