|WHAT||Michigan (19-7, 11-3 B1G) at Purdue (15-12, 5-9)|
|WHERE||Mackey Arena, West Lafayette, Indiana|
|WHEN||7 pm Eastern, Wednesday|
|LINE||Michigan -7 (KenPom)|
|TV||BTN (PBP: Eric Collins; Analyst: Stephen Bardo)|
Right: Matt Painter is still looking for answers. [Eric Upchurch/MGoBlog]
From this point forward, Michigan just has to win games they're supposed to win to secure a Big Ten title. According to KenPom, this is the second-most difficult game left on the schedule, and his algorithm gives U-M a 74% chance at victory.
Michigan State hasn't played since Sunday's game and won't until they host Illinois on Saturday, so a win would give Michigan a full game's lead on the Spartans with both teams having three games left to play. The dark horse in the Big Ten race is no longer Iowa, which currently sits in fifth place (8-6 in Big Ten) after consecutive losses to Wisconsin and Minnesota. At 10-5, the Badgers could share the conference title if they win out—a decent possibility with Penn State, Purdue, and Nebraska remaining on their schedule—and get a lot of help from U-M and MSU.
The upshot is essentially the same as it was earlier this week: Michigan is all but assured a share of the title unless they lose three of their final four games. The only way they'd miss out on a title in that situation is if MSU, losers of five of their last nine games, wins out.
THE PREVIOUS MATCHUP
Derrick Walton had one of his best games in the first matchup [Fuller]
Michigan overcame their uncharacteristically sloppy play (16 turnovers) with hot shooting against a lackadaisical Purdue defense, coming away with a comfortable 75-66 win at the Crisler Center.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold:
|G||3||Ronnie Johnson||So.||6'0, 178||66.8||23.0||Kinda|
|Decent distributor, okay shooter, poor finisher at the rim, gets to FT line well|
|G||0||Terone Johnson||Sr.||6'4, 198||71.9||22.5||Kinda|
|Volume shooter of bad shots, better finisher than Ronnie but still not great|
|G||21||Kendall Stephens||Fr.||6'6, 193||47.2||17.5||No|
|Three-point specialist, no inside-the-arc game, solid outside shooter|
|G||35||Raphael Davis||So.||6'5, 211||40.0||17.7||Yes|
|Decent offensive rebounder, draws fouls, not much of a scorer otherwise|
|C||30||AJ Hammons||So.||7'0, 251||55.6||25.5||Very|
|Excellent rebounder and shot-blocker, offense/effort comes and goes|
|F||5||Basil Smotherman||Fr.||6'5, 222||48.0||13.4||Very|
|Tiny usage, much of offense comes off putbacks, recently lost starting job|
|G||12||Bryson Scott||Fr.||6'1, 201||40.4||25.5||No|
|A shorter, higher-usage, less-efficient version of Terone Johnson|
|F||32||Errick Peck||Sr.||6'6, 223||45.7||14.7||Kinda|
|Solid rebounder, turnover-prone stretch four with iffy outside shot, tiny usage|
Disregard, Carter tore his ACL last weekend
|F||23||Jay Simpson||Fr.||6'10, 250||28.2||23.7||Very|
|Hammons's primary backup, strong rebounder, not good at much else yet|
Terone Johnson is slated to slide back into the starting lineup after coming off the bench for Sterling Carter in their last game, while Raphael Davis is set to start his second game this year. This starting lineup, which Purdue hasn't used yet this season, would be their 13th different lineup of the season. Remember what Matt Painter said before their first game against Michigan?
Purdue coach Matt Painter, on his rotation: "I'd like our guys to play better, so I'd know who the hell to play."
— Rod Beard (@detnewsRodBeard) January 27, 2014
He's the B1G coach who should be complaining about PLAYING SOME WEIRD GUYS OUT THERE, though it's mostly his fault for recruiting this bunch. (Seriously, Matt Painter, what happened?)
Purdue is still trying to figure out their rotation. It's February 26th. They haven't suffered any major injuries. That's good from a team health perspective and terrible from every other perspective.
Center AJ Hammons remains the most dangerous player on this team as a seven-footer with considerable skill. He's reliable for rebounds and blocks; that's about it when it comes to reliability. Hammons hasn't cracked eight points or played more than 20 minutes in any of the last three games; over that span, he has ten fouls and six turnovers. He preceded that with four straight games in double-digits, including games of 18/12 and 20/14 (points/rebounds). His defensive effort also comes and goes. Trying to predict whether or not he'll show up is a fool's errand.
The two other Boilermakers you're most familiar with are brothers Terone and Ronnie Johnson, Purdue's bricktastic backcourt duo. While the Johnsons are getting more selective, and therefore more efficient, with their outside shooting, both still struggle to finish inside the arc (41.0% and 43.9%, respectively).
The other two starting spots have changed since last we met. Freshman Kendall Stephens, who's shooting 38.6% from beyond the arc, is slated to get his second straight start at the three; he's a pure three-point specialist. The Boilermakers plan to start four guards, as 6'5" sophomore Raphael Davis is penciled into the four spot. Davis is decent on the offensive glass, gets to the free-throw line frequently, and otherwise doesn't add much.
Purdue gives ten players regular minutes in their ongoing quest to find a few half-decent options. Freshman four Basil Smotherman lost his starting gig a couple weeks ago; he's an undersized forward who scores well inside the arc but can be overwhelmed at times. Errick Peck will also see minutes at power forward; he's a slightly better rebounder than Smotherman but not on his level as a finisher.
6'10" freshman Jay Simpson spells Hammons off the bench; he's a very good rebounder who doesn't do much else well at this stage in his career. The primary backup guards, Bryson Scott
and Sterling Carter, both take lots of shots they don't hit very well (in Scott's case, tons of two-point jumpers; in Carter's, three-pointers). EDIT: Carter tore his ACL against Nebraska on Sunday and is out for the season. I may be slipping on my "watching/caring about Purdue" obligations, which is for the best.
5-9 in the Big Ten with their best win either a triple-overtime triumph over Minnesota, a six-point victory over Nebraska, or an 18-point spanking of Indiana, all of which came at home. Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Michigan State all handled the Boilermakers easily in Mackey Arena. Their best road win came against #62 West Virginia by three points.
Purdue is eighth in the conference in offensive efficiency and ninth in defensive effiency. Other than rebounding (2nd offensively, 3rd defensively) and shot-blocking (2nd), they're well below average at just about everything. The number that stands out the most is the percentage of three-point attempts they allow: 38.4% of opponent FGA come from beyond the arc, the worst mark in the conference. Purdue is lucky to be just seventh in 3P% against.
Fire away. If Purdue is willing to give up threes, by golly, Michigan should take them. Their perimeter and pick-and-roll defense are bad, especially when Hammons gets lazy with his hedges, which happens often. Michigan went 7/13 beyond the arc in their first matchup; last week, MSU bombarded Purdue with a 17/32(!) three-point performance.
Get Hammons away from the hoop. Hammons is both a lackadaisical perimeter defender and generally foul-prone (yes, there's a correlation between the two). Running lots of pick-and-roll not only draws Purdue's only rim protector away from the hoop, it's likely to end with him in foul trouble. Purdue is 11th in two-point defense despite Hammons's inside presence; other teams have figured this out.
Box out. With their poor shooting numbers from both inside and outside the arc, Purdue's best chance at victory is to crash the offensive boards with aplomb. Morford should be able to mitigate Hammons's offensive rebounding—he had just one in the first matchup—so it's on Glenn Robinson and Caris LeVert, mostly, to make sure to get a body on their man. The Boilermakers had ten(!) different players get an offensive rebound in the first game, in part due to the wild bounces their wayward shots took off various parts of the rim/backboard; when that's the case, out-jumping offensive players for rebounds isn't enough.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 7
That left corner isn't just "Stauskas Corner" anymore. Also, just 'wow' in general—you're highly encouraged to read the whole thing.
The Daily's Daniel Wasserman addresses the Maize Rage issue Brian and I discussed on the podcast; I co-sign everything in this piece.