#27 Michigan (17-5, 6-3)
at #2 Purdue (19-2, 8-0)
West Lafayette, Indiana
|WHEN||7 pm ET, Thursday|
Purdue -13 (KenPom)
Purdue -14.1 (Torvik)
Purdue -10 (Vegas)
PBP: Rece Davis
Analyst: Robbie Hummel
Right: Moe vs. Drago IV [Marc-Gregor Campredon]
Michigan's trip to face a white-hot Purdue squad represents something of a no-lose situation for the Wolverines. Neither the fancystat sites nor Vegas give Michigan much of a shot to win this one.
According to Bart Torvik's tourneycast, a loss would keep Michigan at their current standing as a projected 8-seed. A win, meanwhile, would shoot them all the way up to the 5-seed line. Barring a deep conference tourney run, this is easily M's best shot at getting off the dreaded 8/9 line and even get a little wiggle room to stay off of it. It'd also keep Michigan in contention for a rather shocking Big Ten regular season title; a loss almost certainly knocks them out of the race.
THE LAST TIME
Michigan was on the brink of handing Purdue their only conference loss until the Zaprudering.
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||13||137||Not At All|
|Very efficient, low-usage PG. Hitting 51% of threes. Strong defender.|
|G||3||Carsen Edwards||So.||6'0, 190||68||28||119||Not At All|
|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||75||24||122||Not At All|
|Does a bit of everything on offense, good defender.|
|C||44||Isaac Haas||Sr.||7'2, 290||54||26||122||Very|
|Behemoth. Strong post scorer, rebounder, shot-blocker.|
|C||32||Matt Haarms||Fr.||7'3, 250||46||16||109||Very|
|Low-usage Haas, basically. Some offensive dropoff but none on defense.|
|G||14||Ryan Cline||Jr.||6'5, 190||46||14||118||Not At All|
|Just A Shooter™, makes 41% of his threes.|
|G||20||Nojel Eastern||Fr.||6'6, 220||32||19||88||Yes|
|Big combo guard at best around hoop. Hits the glass. Turnover-prone.|
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
For more detail, revisit the preview from the first game, since not much has changed since then.
Since the first matchup, Purdue has won their last three games by an average margin of 28 points, moving up to #2 on KenPom and #1 on Torvik. At yesterday's presser, John Beilein noted a boggling stat from conference play:
Beilein just dropped an absurd stat in his pre-Purdue press conference: five different Boilermakers have made more 3s than any single player on the Michigan roster.
— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) January 24, 2018
With Isaac Haas commanding serious attention inside, Purdue's shooters have gone wild, making 47% of their triples in Big Ten play. They've clearly passed Michigan State as the team to beat in the conference; they rank first in the B1G in both offensive and defensive efficiency.
The primary matchup focus, as usual, will be Haas vs. Moe Wagner; more broadly, it's John Beilein vs. Matt Painter as they continue a years-long battle to find the right way to win that matchup. Before Nebraska deployed it with great success, Painter had Purdue switch everything against Michigan in the first game:
I don't know if Matt Painter's constant absurd switching was brilliant or idiotic. It was both? At the same time? Probably? Yes. It oscillated wildly between those two states on possession to possession basis.
On some possessions Michigan would stare blankly into the middle distance for 25 seconds before Charles Matthews thundered at a 7'2" or 7'3" guy with little success. On others Zavier Simpson would check to make sure he had the laces right on the basketball—another good Dakich catch—before lifting up in front of a helpless Isaac Haas. Michigan seemed to figure it out in the second half when they made their push to tie, and then it evaporated late on two or three horrendous offensive possessions, any one of which could have produced a game-winning basket.
Given the results since, expect to see more of that. Wagner didn't do enough to take advantage of switches in the first game, and he wasn't helped by teammates unaccustomed to feeding the post—something they normally avoid, which is fine under normal circumstances but much less so when your 6'11" center has at least a half-foot on his defender.
Conference-only stats. Small sample size caveats apply.
No, I can't find the weakness, either. The only thing on either side of the ball that Purdue isn't doing particularly well is get to the free-throw line, and that doesn't matter too much when you're raining fire from beyond the arc.
Z, aggressive. Michigan came within an eyelash of beating Purdue earlier this month in large part because Zavier Simpson had one of his best games. If the Boilermakers are going to be content switching screens and daring Simpson to take Haas off the dribble, he has to be willing to do so—and effective when he does. He dropped 15 points with five assists and one turnover in the first matchup; he'll need to post a similar stat-line for Michigan to hang in this one.
Be on, Wagner. Meanwhile, Michigan probably already has a win over Purdue if Wagner avoids a foul or two in the first matchup and makes one or two more shots. With the way Painter is expected to approach this game, Wagner could have a Louisville-type performance if he's on top of his game; he can light up Haas one-on-one or take advantage of post-ups against guards if Michigan can get him the ball in the right spots.
Stick to shooters. Haas is a terrifying presence, and the prospect of getting dunked on by Ivan Drago often leads teams to overcommit theiir defense to the interior. With Purdue's shooters, that's asking for a beatdown. As scary as this sounds, Wagner and Teske will have to do their best to play the big man straight up—maybe with the occasional quick double on the catch—while the rest of the defense prevents literally everyone else in the lineup from getting open, high-percentage looks from beyond the arc.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Purdue by 13.
Michigan at least has a blueprint for pulling the upset. It still involves pretty much everyone being on top of their game, and the team hasn't had it all come together like that since the MSU game. While Beilein has finally had some practice time to work on beating switches, a few days can only do so much—I think that strategy remains effective enough, at least for stretches, for Purdue to keep Michigan at bay.