Purdue’s got a tall task in front of them tonight as they play the #2 ranked Michigan Wolverines in the newly renovated Crisler Center (formerly Crisler Arena). Michigan has been playing extremely well all year, minus one game at Ohio State where they couldn’t score, and currently sit at 17-1 on the year. They are a great team all up and down the lineup. Trey Burke is the best point guard in the B1G and one of the best in the country. He’s Michigan’s leading scorer at 18 ppg and also contributes a mind blowing 7.2 assists per game. He’s an amazing player and one that Purdue will struggle to contain. The job of holding Burke in check will fall to one of the Johnson brothers. Ronnie should get the first shot followed by Terone if Ronnie struggles or is in foul trouble. Ronnie’s quickness should help to slow Burke down but Ronnie has never guarded a player of Burke’s caliber. Terone will be a nice change of pace as a bigger, stronger defender that will hopefully prevent Burke from driving.
Apart from Burke Michigan has plenty of other offensive weapons. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III (Little Dog) are great players that will cause defensive problems for Purdue. Add to that the emergence of three point dynamo Nik Stauskas who shoots 49% from distance and you’ve got a potent offense that is capable of going off on any team out there. The schedule for Michigan hasn’t exactly been brutal and they’ve lost their toughest game so far (I consider O$u and not Minnesota their toughest game as evidenced by Northwestern taking down Minnesota last night), but it’s the way in which they win that is so impressive. Their offense simply blows people away. They shoot over 50% from the field as a team that’s good enough for 4th in the nation. They also score an astounding 79 ppg which is unheard of for a B1G team. The B1G, right or wrong, is none for being more of a half court slow ‘em down type conference. Think of Purdue, Wisconsin, and to a lesser extent Michigan State. Purdue will struggle to contain the offensive firepower of Michigan tonight. There is hope though if Purdue plays the way they’ve played for this three game winning streak. They’d have to play a near perfect game though.
- Purdue’s been a good rebounding team thus far this season and in order to have a chance this must continue. Michigan is also good on the boards so Purdue has to make the extra effort to crash the glass to get second chance opportunities and prevent Michigan from getting second chances.
- Jacob Lawson has struggled recently rebounding the ball grabbing just 2 rebounds in the last 5 games. In the previous 13 games he’s averaged over 4 rebounds a game. In order to continue seeing the floor Lawson has to find the fire from the start of the year.
- Rapheal Davis by contrast has really picked his rebounding up. In the last 5 games he has 21 boards. The light is clicking on for him on both ends of the floor. His progress is huge for Purdue especially if his shooting continues to impress.
- DJ Byrd must continue his hot shooting ways. During conference play only Byrd is shooting 44% from three. Who knows why he clicks during conference season but I’ll take it. His shooting is key for Purdue.
- Ronnie Johnson’s maturation has helped Purdue cut down on bad turnovers and bad shots early in the shot clock.
- AJ Hammons is important on both offense and defense for Purdue. Burke is able to get to the hoop seemingly at will and Hammons needs to be the big man clogging the lane to stop him. On offense he and DJ can combine to give Purdue a potent inside outside combo.
I don’t think Purdue is mature enough to win this type of game on the road yet. I think Purdue can and will compete it’s just a matter of getting better and learning before Purdue can pull off an upset like this. The talent is there on the roster it’s just learning to play like it. Michigan is a good team. I don’t know if they are #2 in the country good but they are good. Purdue’s got a puncher’s chance in this one but they have to play nearly flawless basketball. I don’t think they’ve got it in them tonight.
Purdue 61, Michigan 77 (My record-11-7. Misses Bucknell, Nova*, Oregon State, Clemson, Xavier, EMU, Illinois)