#9 Michigan (27-7, 13-5)
at #5 Purdue (28-5, 15-3)
Madison Square Garden
New Yooooooooork, NY
|WHEN||4:30 pm ET|
Purdue -3 (KenPom)
Purdue -3.4 (Torvik)
Purdue -3.5 (Vegas)
ayyyyyyyy got me a slice why you lookin over heah
Michigan is all the way up to #9(!) on KenPom with the #6(!!!) defense in the country, which is three spots ahead of the Michigan State defense(!!!!!) they so delightfully dispatched yesterday. If you'd like to enjoy some of the GIFs a bit early, I've been uploading them to the gfycat page.
Most brackets are lagging behind the action a bit because it's a week early for breathlessly frequent updates; while the Bracket Matrix has Michigan as a five-seed, that's including several brackets that have them as a seven-, eight-, or even a nine-seed in one case. That's not happening no matter how much the committee hates this year's Big Ten. Yesterday's win probably locked up a four-seed; Torvik's forecast has Michigan as the third three-seed (one spot in front of MSU) and they don't drop off the three-line if you project a loss to Purdue. A projected win gets them to a two-seed(!!!!!!!!!!) in Torvik's forecast, though I'm guessing the committee's (justified) skepticism of the B1G this year would prevent that. Either way, Michigan may very well be playing for a spot in Detroit the first weekend of the tournament.
Oh, and a banner. They're playing for another banner. Banners are good. I like banners. You like banners. Let's get a banner.
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||11||PJ Thompson||Sr.||5'10, 185||69||12||127||Not At All|
|Very efficient, low-usage PG. Hitting 44% of threes. Strong defender.|
|G||3||Carsen Edwards||So.||6'0, 190||73||29||119||Not At All|
|Best guard in the B1G this year. Efficient volume scorer/shot creator.|
|G||31||Dakota Mathias||Sr.||6'4, 200||78||18||129||Not At All|
|Three-point sniper, good passer, and excellent defender.|
|F||12||Vincent Edwards||Sr.||6'8, 225||74||24||119||Not At All|
|Does a bit of everything on offense, good defender.|
|C||44||Isaac Haas||Sr.||7'2, 290||59||27||121||Very|
|Behemoth. Strong post scorer, rebounder, shot-blocker.|
|C||32||Matt Haarms||Fr.||7'3, 250||41||16||110||Very|
|Low-usage Haas, basically. Huge block rate but sometimes gambles too much.|
|G||14||Ryan Cline||Jr.||6'5, 190||43||13||117||Not At All|
|Just A Shooter™, makes 40% of his threes.|
|G||20||Nojel Eastern||Fr.||6'6, 220||31||19||92||Yes|
|Big combo guard at best around hoop. Hits the glass. Turnover-prone.|
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
Stop the giant without helping off shooters. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]
You know this Purdue team quite well by now; they're already been the subject of two previews here. Michigan lost to them twice this season by a combined total of five points, and their win at Crisler came with the help of an extremely dubious replay decision in the game's waning moments.
John Beilein and Matt Painter have been engaged in a masterful game of basketball chess the last two seasons as Beilein counters Purdue's size with five-out offense and Painter devises ways to slow that down. The focus has mostly been on the matchup between Moe Wagner and Isaac Haas; Wagner will drag Haas out of his comfort zone on defense, while Haas will do the same on the other end with physical, effective post-ups.
The Boilermakers surround Haas with snipers. In order of three-point lethality: Dakota Mathias, PJ Thompson, Carsen Edwards, Ryan Cline, and Vincent Edwards all hit 40% or better from beyond the arc. Mathis is especially deadly because of his ability to fire in an instant after cutting off the ball. Carsen Edwards is arguably the best guard in the conference this year as a sophomore; he's the guy most likely to drill a killer shot off the bounce, and he can also attack the basket. Vince Edwards does everything well, though he's been a little slowed lately by an ankle injury that caused him to miss three games heading into the BTT. Thompson and Cline are mostly just shooters.
Purdue now boasts the #1 three-point shooting squad in the country. Combine that with the effective post offense of Haas and Haarms, excellent free-throw shooting, and an aversion to turnovers, and you get the #2-ranked offense. The Boilermakers won't attack the offensive glass like Michigan State—they've joined Michigan in the ranks of those who prioritize transition defense—but it's otherwise very hard to find a weak point.
The defense is a little more malleable, and as we've covered extensively over the last couple seasons, Michigan presents problems for Purdue significantly unlike most other teams. The Wolverines will go five-out in the hopes that neutralizes their impressive shot-blocking.
More of that, Z. In addition to his starring role in yesterday's semifinal, Zavier Simpson had two of his best games all year against Purdue—his ability to get by Thompson and make plays in the lane nearly allowed M to pull off two upsets. Meanwhile, he'll defend Carsen Edwards, who's on an absolute tear, scoring 20+ in six of his last eight games, including 27 in yesterday's win over PSU. If Simpson can keep Edwards out of the paint and force tough looks from the outside, M has a great shot.
More of that, Duncan. While Livers is still technically the starter, Robinson is playing starter-level minutes and he's clearly earned them. He gets a matchup with Vince Edwards that would've been terrifying a few months ago. Now it feels like this could be the key to the game. When Edwards plays well, Purdue is incredibly tough to slow down, but Robinson could make life hard on him in the post. Add in some three-pointers and baby, we've got a stew goin'.
Do more, say more, Wagner. Michigan's main advantage over Purdue has been Wagner's ability to draw their big men out to the perimeter, hit open threes off the high screen, and open up the paint for the guards/wings. If he can tread water as an interior defender, he just needs to be his normal self on offense to put Haas in a bind—the way Michigan loses without a tough fight is if they need to start helping in the paint and get rained on from the outside. Threes are worth more than twos. Let's make them and then talk a hilarious amount of trash, please.
Win the game. Obligatory.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Purdue by 3.