Long the domain of the NBA and occasional NFL and college bowl games, the fraternity of Christmas Day sporting events is set to welcome Big Ten basketball on Friday.
As Purdue prepares to host Maryland in a holiday matinee, the Boilermakers are feeling far more privileged than put out.
"I'm excited," Purdue's Trevion Williams said. "Growing up, I always watched NBA games on Christmas Day. I sit with my family and we sit there and watch the games. It's going to be special."
Typically, the NCAA upholds a rule requiring three days off around Christmas, but the organization waived the regulation as various teams remain on campus amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"When we reached out to our guys, our players were all for it," Boilermakers coach Matt Painter said. "When you look at the players, more than anything, they've sacrificed. They've had to sacrifice in this situation, and they've done a really good job.
"We all know it's not going to be perfect, but don't let it stop something that is good. This is good, in my opinion."
Purdue (6-3, 1-1) is coming off a 70-55 loss to No. 4 Iowa on Tuesday. While the Boilermakers limited the Hawkeyes to their lowest scoring output in eight games this season, Purdue struggled to capitalize, committing 14 turnovers while shooting 39.7 percent.
Williams paced the Boilermakers with 14 points, nine rebounds and three blocks and has scored 14 or more points in four successive games.
Ball control was paramount for Maryland in its most recent game. The Terrapins (5-2, 0-1) had only four turnovers against La Salle on Tuesday en route to snapping a two-game skid with an 84-71 victory. Eric Ayala and Aaron Wiggins led the way with 23 and 15 points, respectively, both season highs.
"Those two guys stepped up and played well. It's good to see," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. "They've got to play that way for us to be good."
Still, the Terrapins are mindful of overall shooting struggles, namely from beyond the 3-point arc. Maryland took a season-high 28 attempts from deep against the Explorers but made just 25 percent.
"We didn't shoot the ball too well," Wiggins said. "If we make shots, we win that game about 25, 30. So, it's still something that we've got to work on, continuing to stay confident and shoot our shots with confidence."
Purdue leads the all-time series 5-4. The Terrapins enter on a two-game series winning streak.
--Field Level Media