#8 Michigan (22-11, 10-8 B1G) vs
#4 Purdue (25-7, 12-6)
Bankers Life Fieldhouse
|WHEN||1 pm ET, Saturday|
|LINE||Purdue -6 (KenPom)|
Right: Michigan took the home leg against Purdue in their last matchup. [Eric Upchurch/MGoBlog]
Moe Wagner's extended playing time today has been explained, at least in part, by the revelation that Ricky Doyle hurt his ankle late in the Northwestern game. Doyle played four minutes, all in the first half, compared to 16 effective minutes for Wagner, who's likely to serve as Mark Donnal's primary backup given the injury and his strong showing today.
THE LAST TIME
Zak Irvin scored 16 of his 22 points in the second half to lead a late Michigan rally for a 61-56 win over Purdue at the Crisler Center. Irvin was the only Wolverine in double figures, but Michigan held Purdue to only 0.92 points per possession and a 15/41 mark from inside the arc.
Michigan's victory over Indiana took them from clearly outside the field to very much in the at-large conversation, but a bid isn't sewn up yet. ESPN's Eamonn Brennan gives his outlook in ESPN's Bubble Watch:
In situations like these -- when bubble teams grab a huge win in conference tourney play -- it is typical for fans to assume their team must automatically be lifted into the field. Not so fast. As important as a late-season neutral-court tourney win against a top-20 RPI outfit is, and thrilling as it was, Friday was nonetheless Michigan's fourth top-100 win of the season. Its sub-200 nonconference schedule is still dead weight. The Wolverines' lack of bad losses compares favorably to other bubble teams, but a 4-11 top-100 record hardly makes for a sure bet. For now, it's more like a 50-50 bet. One more win like Friday's would do much to strengthen those odds.
With some potential bid thieves still out there, 50-50 seems accurate right now. ESPN's Joe Lunardi still had Michigan out of the field when he gave an update on TV following the game, though he had Vanderbilt ahead of the Wolverines, which I have a hard time seeing after the Commodores lost to a sub-.500 Tennessee squad in their SEC Tournament opener. Yahoo's Brad Evans, on the other hand, currently has Michigan as the last at-large in the field.
A win would seal up a bid. A loss and Michigan might need some help. Pull hard against Tulsa and St. Bonaventure tonight.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.
|G||3||PJ Thompson||So.||5'10, 188||56||12||No|
|Low usage, decent outside shooter, great assist:turnover ratio, high FT rate.|
|G||35||Rapheal Davis||Sr.||6'6, 217||64||17||Not really|
|Last year's B1G DPOY, iffy shooter but can hit open jumpers. True lockdown guy.|
|F||12||Vince Edwards||So||6'8, 225||66||21||No|
|Solid all-around player, 42% 3P shooter, PG-level assist rate.|
|F||50||Caleb Swanigan||Fr.||6'9, 250||62||24||Yes|
|Beast on boards, playing very well lately, can struggle with turnovers.|
|C||20||AJ Hammons||Sr.||7'0, 250||55||28||Not really|
|Living up to his potential: monster rebounder and shot-blocker, shooting 60%.|
|G||31||Dakota Mathias||So.||6'4, 200||46||14||No|
|39% 3P shooter rarely ventures inside arc. Good distributor.|
|G||1||Johnny Hill||Sr.||6'3, 187||44||18||Very|
|Strong finisher for a PG, TO-prone, no outside shot, surprisingly good off.|
|C||44||Isaac Haas||So.||7'2, 282||37||29||Very|
|Behemoth. Good finisher and rebounder, not nearly Hammons as shot-blocker.|
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
Purdue has cooled off a bit since the first matchup, after which they moved up to #4 on KenPom only to promptly lose by 14 at Illinois. They've mostly held to form since, losing only at Iowa and Maryland and holding on for an overtime win over MSU on Tuesday, but they've dropped to #17 and the defense doesn't look quite as impenetrable.
AJ Hammons earned first-team all-B1G and Defensive Player of the Year honors this season after shooting 60% from the field with elite rebounding and shot-blocking rates. He dominated Michigan in the first matchup and had an uncharacteristically poor outing in the second. The other seven-footer in the rotation, Isaac Haas, combined to go 8/15 over the two matchups in just 26 combined minutes; at 282 pounds he's a load to handle, though there's a dropoff in shot-blocking when he's on the floor.
Freshman power forward Caleb Swanigan is one of the best rebounders in the conference and an effective inside scorer; he's been inefficient due to iffy shot selection—he's a below average outside shooter—and turnover trouble. Swanigan has proven too strong a post scorer for Zak Irvin to contain so far this season; he had a lot of trouble staying in front of Irvin on the other end in the second matchup. The Irvin-Swanigan battle will go a long way towards determining the game.
Sophomore PJ Thompson has a tiny 12% usage, an important caveat since he ranks as the second-most efficient offensive player in the country by O-Rating. He's got solid 48/43/82 shooting splits with a high free-throw rate and a solid assist-to-turnover ratio. Backup Johnny Hill is a good slasher and surprisingly productive offensive rebounder who struggles with turnovers and doesn't even have the threat of an outside shot (1/8 3P).
Rapheal Davis remains the most fearsome perimeter defender in the conference, if not the country, and while opponents still dared him to take three-pointers he made a respectable 37% this season—he did cool off to 33% in Big Ten games. He's made Duncan Robinson a relative non-factor in the season series. Vince Edwards is a good rebounder and passer with a 42% mark from three-point range. He hasn't finished well inside the arc in conference play and has been especially unproductive (3/14 2P) against the Wolverines.
Reserve Dakota Mathias made 43% of his threes in conference play and finished with the highest assist rate on the team; he attempts more than twice as many threes as twos. Kendall Stephens dropped out of the rotation—he hasn't played in 8 of the last 12 games—after the Just A Shooter™ lost his three-point shot this season. Freshman Ryan Cline took Stephens' role; he's made 41/104 threes this season... and 1/11 twos. He's a streaky player; he went 0/1 in the first Michigan game and 3/6 in the second (all 3PA).
While Purdue is merely decent at shooting inside and outside the arc, they make up for that with a great rebounding rate. Forcing a high number of turnovers, something Michigan failed to do against Purdue this season, is key to offsetting their overwhelming size.
The defense didn't maintain its national-best pace from early in the season, finishing seventh in the Big Ten with middle-of-the-pack two-point and three-point numbers. They were first in the conference in defensive rebounding and dead last in forcing turnovers—Michigan's coughed it up just 14 times combined in the two matchups.
Win the Irvin-Swanigan matchup. Zak Irvin had trouble handling Caleb Swanigan in the post in both regular-season matchups, but Irvin has almost entirely eliminated him as an offensive rebounder (one in two games). Irvin had a rough outing in the first matchup; Swanigan couldn't keep up with him in the second as Irvin went 4/8 from beyond the arc. With Rapheal Davis a good bet to shut down Duncan Robinson, it's paramount Irvin at least matches Swanigan's production.
Keep it even on the boards. Michigan has kept the rebounding battle even against Purdue so far this season; the Wolverines improbably emerged as a legitimately good team on the boards. Still, the Boilermakers rebounded 36% of their misses this season, boast two skilled seven-footers, and get solid contributions from the non-centers—Swanigan, Edwards, and backup PG Johnny Hill are all plus offensive rebounders. Everyone needs to block out; Purdue will capitalize on mental errors.
Win The Game. Find a way.
THE MOMENT OF ZEN
THE OTHER MOMENT OF ZEN
— Michigan Athletics (@UMichAthletics) March 11, 2016
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Purdue by 6.
PLEASE BE WRONG, O MIGHTY KENPOM.