Purdue Basketball Northwestern preview
Northwestern's offense mirrors Purdue's from 2018-'19, with a focus on Buie and Barnhizer, and a deliberate pace. Northwestern hunts matchups.
Northwestern's offense is reminiscent of Purdue's offense from 2018-'19, with Boo playing the role of Carsen and Nicholson doing his best Matt Haarms impersonation from the high post with screens and dribble handoffs. The majority of possessions start with a high screen at the top of the key for Buie, trying to turn the corner, and the center on a delayed roll to the basket. If Buie gets cut off, he throws out to a wing, and the motion repeats, often with the wing using the screen to drive and get the ball back to Buie on the wing, who then either takes the kick-out 3, or resets at the top of the key with yet another screen.
Northwestern's offense is deliberate, with only 5 teams playing at a slower pace. Their main goal is to have the ball in Buie's hands with 10 seconds left on the shot clock and a high screen at his disposal. Northwestern's offense revolves around hunting good matchups for Buie. They'll run through their set a few times, seeing if they can get him on a slower wing or better yet, a power forward. The Boilermakers should at least make Northwestern work for the switch or they're going to see nothing but Buie working Fletcher Loyer at the end of the shot clock.
If they go away from Buie, they'll look to their power forward Barnhizer next, who is a 6'6", 215-pound power forward capable of driving slow-footed power forwards. Northwestern will also pick and pop with Barnhizer. Their centers are used both as screeners at the top of the key and facilitators. Matt Nicholson is second on their team in assists, and most of those come off dribble handoffs into 3 pointers.
Northwestern's two wings take spot-up 3's off Buie drives or cut to the basket looking for easy layups. Ty Berry is a knock-down shooter when left wide open, and Ryan Langborn attempts 4.5 3-pointers a game. Northwestern's offense isn't super complicated. They don't throw the ball into the post. They hunt matchups and utilize their big men either as screeners or facilitators at the top of the key. The offense revolves around Buie and Barnhizer, with everyone else playing a complementary role.
Northwestern doesn't have enough to win if Buie is limited. In their loss to Mississippi State, he was held to 9 points and the Wildcats couldn't break 60 points. Northwestern is both very good and very bad at defense at the same time. They live to turn teams over in the half court and then use their offense to further choke the life out of the game. They're 12th in the nation in turnover percentage. They love to collapse around a ball handler in the lane and then pick off long kickouts.
Purdue is going to have open shooters all night. If they shoot over 35%, it's unlikely that Northwestern wins this game. Northwestern will try and take the air out of the ball, shoot jump shots late in the clock, and ruthlessly foul Zach Edey. Purdue will need to adjust to Northwestern's style of play and force the action on their own. It's up to Purdue to create enough possessions to win the game.
Purdue uses their newfound tempo to push the pace, work earlier in the shot clock, and let Braden control the pace of the game. This Boilermaker team is on a mission, and they are expected to succeed in their first conference game.