Poll Dancing: Respect must be earned.
Purdue has lost four of their last ten games...two of those to Iowa. Currently, The Forces of Good sit at 17-4 overall, and 5-3 in the conference. They're three games back from IU and Iowa in the unimportant regular season conference crown race.
Sure, I said it a few times before the season started- I really don't care about a B1G Championship this season; my focus is/was bigger. I thought this team was built for a run at least into the round of eight in the dance...my Boilers are testing this stance by looking like a team that doesn't belong in the top-4 of a conference, that looks decidedly weaker than usual top-to-bottom.
I had a text discussion with a pal of mine yesterday following the Boilers' eight point loss to the Senior-laden, decidedly-good Iowa Hawkeyes. While venting, sometimes sarcastically, I organized my thoughts; mostly, I'm sorely disappointed with the way the last month has gone for our Boilers.
A 17-4 record is damned good...but Purdue has yet to notch a victory against a ranked team, has allowed too many 50 point halves to opponents and keeps allowing opposing players to score 20+ points.
Is Iowa a bad matchup? Clearly. Were my early expectations unreasonable? I don't think so. Is it OK to be disappointed at this point? Absolutely. Is the season lost? Nope.
Defense that was once the hallmark of Purdue teams isn't really a pillar this season when they play teams that have cracked the code: Draw Hammons out of the lane and Purdue is soft on defense. The problem is, as Davis seems to struggle as he plays slightly out of position and tries to get back to 100% off of his knee injury, Purdue looks like a pretender.
Offensively, Purdue is flat-out offensive at times. Mathias, Stephens and Cline aren't shooting the ball at the high percentage most of us thought they would be...it's a damned good thing PJ Thompson is the anti-Ronnie Johnson with his ability to knock down open three pointers. That said, when Purdue loses, they are a turnover factory. And as Biggie has shown, turning the ball over is something that can be improved upon...but maybe Matty needs to get simple and just get guys back to their natural position? I'm just spit-balling. Whatever the case, Purdue has plenty that needs to be fixed and is still ranked.
As of this evening, the *BSCR is 17.
I think this team is good enough to be in the top 15 of the human polls...but they surely haven't earned it. The next two games, Purdue won't have a chance to help themselves...games at Minny and versus Nebraska give Purdue little to gain and much to lose. But then it gets interesting...
If Purdue is to make a significant run in the tournament, they need to make believers out of the pollsters and computers alike in order to improve their seeding. A four or five seed puts our Boilers in a position that they'll have to play above seed to make noise in the post-season.
Circle the week of February 6th to 13th on your calendars. If Purdue is going to make a move in March, they need to prove to themselves (and others) that they can play with and beat the elite of the conference (and nation).
*BSCR is the Boiled Sports Composite Ranking comprised of the AP & Coaches Polls along with the RPI, Sagarin and KenPom computer rankings.