1/25/2018 – Purdue 92, Michigan 88 – 17-6, 6-4 Big Ten
77%, 7'2", cumong man [Marc-Gregor Campredon]
The most absurd thing about last night's basketball game, which was a nonstop avalanche of absurd things, was that I had a reference point for it. That is, of course, last year's delirious first-round NCAA tournament game against Oklahoma State, which finished 92-91. Last night, which is officially That Michigan-Purdue Game, was 92-88 in an identical number of possessions. (Give Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman the free throws he inexplicably bricked on a night he could have tossed up a blindfolded halfcourt shot and called bank and the similarities get downright eerie.)
That number: 65, so if we do some division... carry the 8... yep, it comes out to plaid. Because I have another exact reference point for this:
I can probably stop typing now, because the above clip sums it up: some introductory exchanges, a jump past anything that could be considered a reasonable or safe velocity, a sudden stop, and then... I'm fine with it. Also my head has been crushed. I would like to fall over now.
Sometimes they get to have Nik Stauskas in evil kiss-blowing ninja mode. Sometimes they get to have Trey Burke.
The thing about Purdue is that they're sort of all Stauskas? Not Haas. Haas is not Stauskas. But he did remind me of that year Jared Sullinger and John Diebler were on the same Ohio State team. Sullinger spent his days posting up with absurd efficiency and kicking it out to Diebler, who hit 50% of his 227(!) threes. OSU was 34-3 and the #1 team on Kenpom that year. It's a good pattern, having an ogre who can hit free throws surrounded by a bonanza of shooters.
That OSU team hit 42% of its threes as a team. 2018 Purdue is at 44%. Meanwhile, designated ogre Haas is now a high-usage 7'2" guy who could throw Brock Lesnar through a brick wall; if he had sufficient minutes to rank on Kenpom leaderboards he'd be in the top 20 in FT rate. He hits those free throws at a 77% clip. He does not get sufficient minutes to rank because Purdue also has a 7'3" Dutchman who's half windmill.
So I don't know what the hell you're supposed to do if you don't have someone capable of checking Haas, and nobody really does. I don't know what you're supposed to do against Haas when that team has five different guys hitting 40+% from three. Even when you do get a good defensive possession in, I don't know what you're supposed to do to prevent Carsen Edwards from getting off bad-idea shots that go down anyway. I don't know how to score on the windmill, although Xavier Simpson evidently does.
I mean, I do know what you're supposed to do: you're supposed to have Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman leave his damn body, shoot 63% from two and 57% from three as a team, and have a +3 shot volume advantage. EXCEPT THAT DOESN'T WORK.
Teams that score 1.3 PPP or better are 209-1 in college basketball this year (h/t @totally_t_bomb's site). Michigan is the 1. Wolverines scored 1.35 PPP at Purdue and lost last night. Game Recap: https://t.co/iP972nwoAV
— Dylan Burkhardt (@umhoops) January 26, 2018
So, okay. I accept that this is the year Purdue has Stauskas and Burke and THJ and GRIII all on the same team. Matt Painter ain't never done nothing to me except leave my corpse gently cooling in the dusty street, so I hope Purdue wins the whole damn thing in March. Still super pissed off about that review from the Crisler game, though.
Meanwhile for Michigan, it seems clear that this is not The Year, like it is for Purdue and their four seniors. So we can take equal parts frustration, amazement, and hope from this plaid-ass game.
Michigan's thudding offense from the previous three games was gone. Whether that was an opportunity to rest or practice the ways in which opponents were dealing with the Michigan offense I don't know, but a Beilein offense was never going to stay 20-points-in-a-half broken. Zavier Simpson, as mentioned, was able to get several shots up and in against the human windmill, and a couple of misses were Kobe assists. When not playing Purdue the defense is very good, and there's a bunch of talent coming in next year.
Also I am going to spend the next two months squinting at John Teske and hoping. It could happen!