(Image from Erik Stevenson’s Instagram)
Morgantown, West Virginia – The West Virginia Mountaineers face off against the 24th-ranked Purdue Boilermakers in Portland, Oregon today at 10:00 PM ET on ESPN2. This game will truly show how good this Mountaineer team is and will be the first ranked team WVU will have faced all season.
Breaking down the opposing stats:
Purdue averages 74 points per game, with Center Zach Edey being their leading scorer with 20.7 points per game. The Boilermakers only give up 55.7 points per game and have been dominant on the boards, averaging 43 rebounds per game.
What Purdue is best at:
Purdue is best at rebounding. This team is BIG, having TWO players above SEVEN feet (Zach Edey 7’4″, and Will Berg 7’2″ respectively). Expect this Purdue team to be aggressive and score a lot of points in the paint. With their size, it will be hard for the Mountaineers to guard them, but I expect West Virginia’s Jimmy Bell and Edey to be a good Center matchup.
What WVU is best at:
WVU has a VERY STRONG bench, with every single player on the roster having the ability to come in and be a strong offensive and defensive presence. WVU’s best player off the bench is Guard Joe Toussaint, who averages 10.5 points per game and shoots 37.1% from the field.
West Virginia has a strong veteran presence, led by Erik Stevenson, who is averaging 14.0 points while shooting 59.5% from the field and 53.3% from three point range, Tre Mitchell who is averaging 13.3 points and 4.8 rebounds, and Emmitt Matthews, Jr., who averages 10.3 points per game.
WVU’s Key to the Game:
Winning the rebound game and forcing turnovers. WVU has looked a lot better defensively this season, and the turnover margin is what has been their best attribute. If they can force more turnovers than they commit, West Virginia should be able to do enough offensively to win this game. Rebounding will also be key. Purdue is a GREAT rebounding team. If WVU can get key offensive rebounds and stop Purdue from gaining second-chance rebounds, WVU will have the advantage they need to win.
This will be a close and hard-fought matchup against two LEGIT teams. The winner of this game will likely play the Gonzaga Bulldogs tomorrow at 9:30 ET on ESPN in the Second Round of the Phil Knight Legacy Tournament (PK85).