Hoops Preview: Purdue Comment Count

Ace January 9th, 2018 at 4:20 PM

First off, I've been overwhelmed and uplifted by the outpouring of support from my post earlier today. Thank you so much to everyone who's reached out with words of support or shared their own personal stories. It means the world to me to be a part of such a remarkable community.


WHAT #32 Michigan (14-3, 3-1 B1G)
vs #5 Purdue (15-2, 4-0)
WHERE Crisler Center
Ann Arbor, Michigan
WHEN 9 pm ET, Tuesday
LINE Purdue -2 (KenPom)
Purdue -4.8 (Torvik)
Purdue -1 (Vegas)
PBP: Dave Flemming
Analyst: Dan Dakich

Right: It's gonna get physical. [Paul Sherman]


Purdue's visit to Crisler gives Michigan its best chance at a marquee win from a Big Ten schedule that doesn't have MSU travel to Ann Arbor. Given the way the nonconference schedule broke, pulling out at least one victory against the Boilermakers or Spartans is probably the only way the Wolverines can get above a 7 or 8 seed—there just aren't many resumé-boosing wins to be had when most of the conference is moving in the wrong direction.

In rotation news, Zavier Simpson took the starting job back from Eli Brooks for the Illinois game, and that's all but assured to be a permanent change. Brooks could be in a fight for the backup job with Jaaron Simmons, who Beilein inserted for a brief stretch that wasn't in garbage time. Jordan Poole has definitively moved in front of Ibi Watson as the primary backup at both the two and the three. (He's previously just played the two.) Isaiah Livers continues to impress and this could very well be the game he overtakes Duncan Robinson regardless of who starts the first half; the Boilermakers pose a terrible matchup for Robinson.


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.

Pos. # Name Yr. Ht./Wt. %Min %Poss ORtg SIBMIHHAT
G 11 PJ Thompson Sr. 5'10, 185 71 13 135 Not At All
Very efficient, low-usage PG. Hitting 49% of threes. Strong defender.
G 3 Carsen Edwards So. 6'0, 190 67 28 114 No
B1G's most improved. Shot creator who's greatly improved finishing.
G 31 Dakota Mathias Sr. 6'4, 200 76 19 129 Not At All
Three-point sniper, also threat inside arc, good passer when D overcommits.
F 12 Vincent Edwards Sr. 6'8, 225 74 24 118 Not At All
Does a bit of everything on offense, good defender.
C 44 Isaac Haas Sr. 7'2, 290 54 27 124 Very
Behemoth. Strong post scorer, rebounder, shot-blocker.
C 32 Matt Haarms Fr. 7'3, 250 46 14 112 Very
Low-usage Haas, basically. Some offensive dropoff but none on defense.
G 14 Ryan Cline Jr. 6'5, 190 45 13 117 Not At All
Just A Shooter™, makes 40% of his threes.
G 20 Nojel Eastern Fr. 6'6, 220 30 20 86 Yes
Big combo guard at best around hoop. Turnover-prone.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]


Purdue is 1b to Michigan State's 1a in the Big Ten this year. They're 7-2 against KenPom top-100 teams and boast one of the most impressive single-game results of the season in a 89-64 neutral-court pasting of Arizona. Despite losing national player of the year candidate Caleb Swanigan, they've improved on both ends of the floor, and they boast a starting lineup of four seniors and emerging sophomore star Carsen Edwards.

Edwards has been the most improved player in the conference this season. Last year, he was an inefficient chucker who had to take on a significant role for a team lacking shot creators. This year, he's pulled off the difficult feat of improving his efficiency while simultaneously taking on a leading role. He's the bucket-getter, and the offense suffers noticeably when he's not out there.

The rest of the team should be pretty darn familiar to you. The senior holdovers are led by 7'2" center Isaac Haas, who's been overwhelming in the post, making 64% from the field while drawing 8.2 fouls per 40 minutes. While he no longer has Swanigan as a bruising partner in crime, he has a 7'3" backup in freshman Matt Haarms who provides similar efficiency in the post—albeit on much lower usage—while deterring (and swatting) shots in the pain.

Power forward Vincent Edwards, who considered entering the NBA draft early, instead returned to provide his usual bit of everything—he can rebound, defend multiple positions, and score inside and out. While he doesn't necessarily wow you, he's a versatile weapon who'll come up with some big plays.

Purdue gets great outside shooting from guard PJ Thompson and wing Dakota Mathias, who have essentially swapped the roles of point guard and small forward. Thompson is tiny but is mostly used as an off-ball shooting threat. Mathias, a former Just A Shooter™ type, leads the team in assist rate and is more of a threat to score off the dribble. Junior Ryan Cline, a true JAS™, gives them another 40%+ marksman off the bench.


Small sample size caveats apply.

Four Factors explanation

They're really good.

If Purdue has a weakness offensively, it's that they can be a little turnover-prone; they're susceptible to steals when opponents dial up the pressure on the bigs, though that comes with its own costs. They're a top-25 shooting team both inside and outside the arc, draw a lot of fouls, and make free throws at a top-50 rate.

Defensively, Purdue's size has the expected impact on opponent two-pointers—they're fifth against twos and 20th in block rate—and they do a remarkable job of avoiding fouls given how often they contest shots.


Figure out the rotation early. I expect John Beilein to start Duncan Robinson. I don't expect that to go well; there's nobody in Purdue's starting lineup you can reasonably hide him against and he exacerbates the existing defensive mismatch of Haas against Moe Wagner. I'd be pleasantly surprised if Beilein stuck with the Wagner/Livers, Teske/Robinson pairings as much as he can. Trying to slow the Purdue offense with both Wagner and Robinson out there is going to be a lost cause.

Slow Edwards. When looking at lineup data, the impact of Carsen Edwards on Purdue's offense stands out. It makes sense—he's the primary shot creator, and nobody coming off the bench replicates his skill-set. It'd be a huge step in the right direction if MAAR or Charles Matthews can stick with his drives and maybe even harass him into some turnovers. It won't be easy; they won't get much help with so many good shooters spreading the floor.

Spread and shred. Michigan laid down the blueprint for beating Purdue last year: go five-out as much as possible, put their huge but somewhat ponderous big men in space, and use the threat of guards blowing past those bigs to open up the perimeter. Zavier Simpson's breakout couldn't have come at a better time; tonight will be the biggest test of how far he's come.


Purdue by 2.

DJ Wilson was a big part of that five-out, spread-and-shred success against Purdue last year. Robinson doesn't provide the same matchup problems (at least not without adding one for Michigan on the other end) and Livers, as much as I love his game, may not be there yet. This should be a fun, tight game, but I expect size and experience to win out.


UMHoops preview.



January 9th, 2018 at 4:35 PM ^

Those Purdue ORtgs are enormous.

Mathias may be "Just a Shooter" on offense, but with Dakich calling  the game, we'll get to hear him gush about Dakota's defensive prowess all night long.


January 9th, 2018 at 4:45 PM ^

Mo needs to be back to 2016-17 form for Michigan to get the win imo...

there's some wildcards with Matthews and Livers... they might rise to the occasion... or they might collapse under the pressure of expectations.

should be interesting...


January 9th, 2018 at 4:53 PM ^

This game is where Beilein sinks or swims.

He has yet to play Two big together, and he continues to start Robby.

If Robby hits 7 of 8 threes we are ok.

Shoot the lites out boys. I think Poole and Livers Will.

Go Blue.


January 9th, 2018 at 5:08 PM ^

spot on with the big pairings. 

Maybe even limit Duncan to the minutes that Ryan Cline plays. AND, I think we should see some four guard lineups tonight.  Matthews should be able to hang with V Edwards, who isn't a big inside player. 

Poole, Z and MAAR can match up with their short front-court. Maybe even put Z on Carsen Edwards and see if he can stay in front of him if MAAR can't.



January 9th, 2018 at 5:20 PM ^

Of all the teams in the B1G, I think Purdue is the most disappointing in basketball. They always have a good enough team to play well in the regular season year in and year out, but seldom make a deep run in the NCAA tourney. In essence, they are a tough game in conference, but seldom do much to help the conference prestge pre or post conference season. 

NCAA Tournament runner-up
NCAA Tournament Final Four
1969, 1980
NCAA Tournament Elite Eight
1969, 1980, 1994, 2000
NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen
1969, 1980, 1988, 1994, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2009, 2010, 2017


And yet:

chool Big Ten
Purdue 23 1911, 1912, 1921, 1922, 1926, 1928, 193019321934, 1935, 1936, 193819401969, 1979, 1984, 1987, 1988199419951996, 2010, 2017
Indiana 22 1926, 1928, 1936, 19531954, 1957, 1958, 1967, 1973, 1974, 19751976198019811983, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1993, 2002, 20132016
Ohio State 20† 1925, 1933, 1939194419461950196019611962, 1963, 1964, 1968, 1971, 1991, 199220062007, 2010, 2011, 2012
Wisconsin 18 1907, 1908, 1912, 1913191419161918, 1921, 1923, 1924, 1929, 1935, 19411947, 2002, 200320082015
Illinois 17 1915, 1917, 1924, 1935, 1937, 19421943194919511952, 1963, 1984, 1998, 2001, 2002, 20042005
Michigan 14 1921, 1926, 1927, 1929, 1948, 1964, 19651966, 1974, 197719851986, 2012, 2014
Michigan State 13 1957, 1959, 1967, 1978, 1979, 1990, 1998, 19992000, 2001, 2009, 2010, 2012
Iowa 8 1923, 1926, 194519551956, 1968, 1970, 1979
Minnesota 8^ 1906, 1907, 1911, 1917, 1919, 1937, 19721982
Chicago 6 1907, 1908, 190919101920, 1924
Northwestern 2 1931, 1933



January 9th, 2018 at 8:04 PM ^

were 1940 or earlier so they're a bit like Michigan football is what you're saying?

They definitely have been a bit underacheiving in the tourney under Painter (and massively so under Keady), so I agree.  That they didn't make the Elite Eight with the Robbie Hummel/Jajuan Johnson/E'twan Moore squads had to be disappointing.  And if they don't do it this year, the Swanigan/Edwards/Haas era will be a disappointment as well.

This is Painter's best team, I think.  Pressure should be on to make the Elite Eight or even Final Four.


January 9th, 2018 at 6:08 PM ^

You just hope Teske's 5 are GOOD ones, and interspersed with some blocks & put backs.

Mo needs to be hawt from 3.

Matthews needs to have a really strong game, and stay out of early foul trouble.

And finally, Livers needs to play WAY more minutes than DRob, and DRob needs to hit some early 3s to build his confidence & loosen things up.

That's all, carry on!


January 9th, 2018 at 6:14 PM ^

20 minutes, that is not at all a good sign for us.  Means he's either needed to help out too much off the ball or is getting totally abused by Haas. 

I'm somewhat confident the former shouldn't be an issue if we minimize Duncan's minutes and I'm not super worried about the latter.  Stay in front of Haas/Haarms, get your hands up and if they hits shots over you, tip your hat.  I think he matches up with them better than quicker bigs that can get around him.


January 9th, 2018 at 8:22 PM ^

prevent a near certain layup/dunk, and to a lesser extent occasional fouls that come at the cost of playing agressive (but not overly) defense.  So the latter are non-ticky-tack, I guess, as you put it.

Hence if Teske has to come over to foul a guy that beats his man so badly that he'd have a layup otherwise.  Of if Haas beats him so badly he has to do the same.  If those are happening frequently, it's a bad sign because we're getting smoked.

Otherwise, just stay in front of the bigs, get your hands up and make them shoot over you.

I'm not talking about good/bad calls, because again, if he gets five that are good calls in less than 20 minutes, he's either making stupid fouls or we're getting beat badly as per the above.

Cali's Goin' Blue

January 9th, 2018 at 5:47 PM ^

Even in this thread. Just wanted to say that I always forget about your condition between the times you write about it because you seem so happy and awesome on the podcasts and your writing style is in my top 3 for sports writers across all forums. But your enthusiasm and positivity is one of the most iinspiring things when it gets brought to my attention. Keep powering on man and know that you have an incredible amount of people who care about you even though many of us have never met you. 


January 9th, 2018 at 5:52 PM ^

Really big potential game tonight. I don't expect Saturday to go well, but Michigan usually plays well against Purdue as of late so I feel optimistic about tonight!


Go Blue, Beat Purdue!!!


January 9th, 2018 at 6:25 PM ^

are people really more likely to go to a 7pm game?

I don't live in the area, unfortunately, but I'd have a much more difficult time getting to a 7pm game between wrapping up work, eating dinner, getting the kids to bed, etc.  9pm would be ideal for me.  I could get all that done, get to the game and, to me, 11:30-12 isn't too late to get home one time during the week.

Maybe if I had older kids in the 7-12yo range with a later bedtime that could go to a 7pm game but not a 9pm game (and if my wife didn't want me to leave her with the kids) would an earlier game be preferred for me.

No kids = no excuses for not attending a late game.

Maybe it's the senior citizen set that can't do the late games.  We do have a lot of those.

What is the consensus here?


January 9th, 2018 at 7:58 PM ^

or having to get up before 5am for work is a legitimate excuse for sure.

But anyone not willing to go because a seven or eight hour sleep gets reduced by one hour is..not a great fan.  I get up at 6am.  If I only get six hours of sleep instead of my usual 6.5-7 because I get to watch a big game in person, great. I'll have another cup of coffee in the morning and be just fine.

But I guess we also lead the country in down-in-front fans at football games so there's correlation I'm sure.


January 9th, 2018 at 10:14 PM ^

tha fuck is up with Purdue making every three attempt

Also I've got a kid sister that can shoot free throws better than Matthews

Also, Livers is the fucking future