Four Things for #18 Purdue Basketball Fans to Watch vs #19 Louisville Cardinals

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It’s the most marquee home non-conference game on the schedule for Purdue basketball, and one of the gems of this year’s B1G/ACC Challenge. The Boilermakers welcome the #18 Louisville Cardinals, the program that was THE story of the offseason/preseason, and for all the wrong reasons.

Louisville is a program that has been rocked by scandal in recent years, and the list of alleged crimes keeps getting longer- prostitution, corruption, bribery. Trending topic one this fall in the college hoops world was the FBI investigation into unethical recruiting practices, and no one saw their section of the Earth move more than the Cardinals.

Head Coach Rick Pitino was fired before the season started, replaced by interim leader David Padgett. There are still multiple shoes to drop here, as evidenced by the events of this past week.

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Full of Drama Like a Soap Opera

In his ode to the city of Los Angeles, Tupac Shakur (then known as Makaveli) described L.A. as “full of drama like a soap opera,” and that’s UL hoops in 2017-18. New coach, new Athletic Director, things are going to get messier before they get cleaner. This sticky situation is only getting started.

Brian “Tugs” Bowen, the McDonald’s All-American at the center of the Adidas scandal will never play for UL, the school announced on black Wednesday. The German sportswear maker funneled $100,000 to Bowen, Federal documents allege, and Bowen is now free to either transfer or pursue professional aspirations.

We should all hope that he takes the college court, because he is indeed a five star talent that is a whole lot of fun to watch. 

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While college basketball maintains a business model that is neo-plantation meets modern indentured servitude, it is sadly still the system. You definitely can’t condemn Bowen, and instead slam the adults in the room who truly let him down.

It’s only the more than a half-century outdated NCAA “laws” that were violated in this specific case, not the actual American rule of law. According to Bowen’s lawyer, he has already long been cleared by the FBI. Wednesday also brought the announcement that Associate Head Coach Kenny Johnson was terminated.

He had been on paid leave since news of the FBI investigation broke. While the off-the-court goings on are of course bigger than the on-the-court doings, credit UL for heading into this contest undefeated on the young season.

Not to make a Federal case out of all of this (although it is literally a Federal case), but the Cards have done a great job staying poised and focused amidst all the chaos.

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Deng Dude, This Team is Loaded with Talent

This is an extremely talented team, with a good mix of veterans and youth. Their pressure defense will provide a great test for this up and down and inconsistent Purdue basketball team. The Cardinals are led by leading scorer Deng Adel, a 6-7 swingman who can score in multiple ways, all he needs to do is further develop his three point game.

Adel may be the answer to the primary question that UL had entering this season- “who will be the primary scorer?”

Ray Spalding has looked a lot like the player the coaching staff thought he’d be this year after a strong offseason.

The 6-10 junior is second on the Cards in scoring and leads the squad in rebounding.

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V.J. King is a former McDonald’s All-American with some substantial NBA Draft stock. He’s a smooth scorer on the wing who should flourish this season in an expanded role.

Quentin Snider was a familiar name to Purdue basketball fans even before he played a minute of college hoops, provided we’re talking about fans who follow conference recruiting closely.

Snider de-committed from Illinois just before national signing day 2013; a prelude to the Cliff Alexander fiasco that year.

He entered the season having started 61 games at the point, and his steady, savvy leadership is exactly what Louisville needs this season.

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What to Make of Purdue Basketball Exactly?

UL’s biggest weakness is interior strength, so Purdue’s best chance to take over in this one would be to focus on pounding it inside and maximize their “Ha-Ha” 7’2″+ twin towers Haarms and Haas. So as Nelson Muntz would say: “Ha-Ha!”

Purdue began the year in very impressive fashion, absolutely dismantling all their cupcakes, in a manner that was even more bombastic than how most power five conference teams destroy their patsies.

Then came the Battle 4 Atlantis (why is it “4” not “for”? Seriously this one gawd AWFUL trend that NEEDS TO STOP Now! Quit replacing words with numbers, we’re not six years old) and chaos ensued.

The Boilermakers fell to Tennessee in overtime on Black Wednesday, which was bad enough, but then came the Western Kentucky disaster on Thanksgiving.

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The Boilers rebounding and defense seemed to be MIA. Then on Friday, things turned around when they absolutely manhandled #2 Arizona, a team with major issues right now in its own right. Zona’s trip to the Bahamas was a total disaster, and right now they look like perhaps the most overrated team to be ranked #2 in history.

Of course, we’re only talking about right now. The Wildcats are so immensely talented this season, and they are in fact Arizona, and you know exactly what a blue blood that program is so they will get it right in time, and this win will look more impressive for the Purdue basketball resume as the season goes on.

Hey, if your date with the Prom Queen just happens to come at a moment in her life when she’s really low for some reason…you still went out with the Prom Queen.

As Lonely Island would say “still counts!”

This will be a chance for both the Louisville and Purdue basketball teams to really learn a whole lot more about themselves. Mackey Arena, celebrating its 40th anniversary this season, will be BUZZING for what is the first marquee home game of the season.

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Festive Period Fixture Congestion for Purdue Basketball

The B1G’s greedy and myopic decision to move the conference tournament to Madison Square Garden will eventually end up shooting them in the foot. This very dumb idea entails:

moving the conference tournament up a whole week, giving postseason teams a lot of extra time off at the end of the year which could make them rusty for the big dance, wedging a lot of additional games into one week.

Here is the first example, as Purdue basketball tips off their first conference game, and it’s a doozy, less than 72 hours after they end one of their most marquee non-conference contests.

Friday night the Boilers head to Maryland, with a very quick turnaround for a Sunday matinee against Northwestern at home.

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While it is nice to have a couple conference games, i.e. something more interesting and meaningful, during a week that is traditionally reserved for dull, tedious scrub opposition, this could still eventually have some adverse effects.

There will be plenty of weeks like this for everybody this season, and you know that the added workload, with its ramped up congestion, will take its toll on guys.

What’s probably worse though is the underlying cause.

The B1G took its boneheaded decision to add Rutgers, which was about nothing more than getting New York City televisions to watch BTN, to its next illogical step.

This was a money grab, plain and simple, and let’s just hope that no one gets hurt too badly as a direct consequence.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and the Tribune company’s blogging community Chicago Now.

Follow him on TwitterInstagramSound Cloud, LinkedIn and YouTube.

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