Sports Column

Smith: Its rivalry weekend for Purdue and IU


It’s been a long time since the Hoosiers and Boilers were both good in Men and Women’s basketball at the same time, but here we are. The stage is set for this weekend, as the men will play in Bloomington on Saturday, and the women will match up in West Lafayette on Sunday. What’s at stake? Winning streaks, conference standings, tournament resumes, and maybe the most important of them all- bragging rights.

The scenarios are similar, but flipped in these two matchups. The Purdue men are favored, and have only lost once all year, but they’ll have to go on the road to play a dangerous Hoosier team. In the other game, the Indiana women are favored, and have only lost once all year, but will have to go on the road to play a dangerous Purdue team. These teams will also play each other again later this month, making this February one to remember.

The Purdue men (22-1) are the Number One team in the nation and they will carry a 9-game winning streak into Assembly Hall. They dominated Indiana in the Archie Miller era, and split with the Hoosiers last year in Mike Woodson’s first year. The Hoosiers (15-7) had their five-game winning streak snapped on Tuesday at Maryland, but they’ve been a different team at home this season. In their last three home games, they’ve defeated Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Ohio State by 18, 13, and 16 points, respectively. The Boilers, however, are a different animal and Mike Woodson knows it.

“They’ve got a good team,” Woodson said. “I mean, they’re twenty-something and one? So they’re doing something right. Matt (Painter) has done a great job with their ball-club. Edey is having a great year, but they’ve got the surrounding pieces as well. We’re going to have to do everything well. We’ll have to knock down shots, defend, and rebound. I’m just anxious to get to the game to see where we are against the number one team in the nation.”

There will be a number of storylines to follow, but none bigger than Trayce Jackson-Davis and Zach Edey down low. Jackson-Davis put up video game numbers in the month of January, joining the likes of Shaquille O’Neal and Tim Duncan as the only college players to average 23+ points, 14+ rebounds, and 3+ blocks per game in a calendar month over the last 25 years. Zach Edey, however has put up similar numbers over the course of the entire season. He’s averaging 22 points and 13 rebounds per game, while shooting 61.7% on the year. If both players can stay out of foul trouble, you would expect big numbers from each. And if that happens, the determining factor of the game might come down to the freshman guards. How will freshmen Braden Smith and Fletcher Loyer perform in their first trip to Assembly Hall? For Indiana, freshman Jalen Hood-Schifino has been streaky this season, but has been much better at home. I think this game is going to be a lot of fun, and come down to the wire.

On Sunday, it’s the women’s turn, and the scene shifts to Mackey Arena. The Hoosiers are ranked #4 in the nation (which may be underrating them by a spot or two), while the Boilermakers received the most AP votes (#30) they’ve had since 2015. Both teams recently gave Ohio State their first two losses of the season, and both squads are riding high and ready for a war. It’s great for the state, and great for women’s basketball to see big crowds and rivalries that mean something. Mackey Arena is expected to be sold out on Sunday afternoon.

Tyler Smith covers the Indiana Pacers and Indiana Hoosiers for IndySportsLegends and is a frequent contributor to the Journal Review. Smith is also the head girls basketball coach at Crawfordsville High School.