Tonight, the conference schedule begins. According to Kramer, Purdue's motivated to beat this opponent because of the fact that the Illini beat Purdue in the BT tourney to end last year's campaign (prior to the NCAA tourney).
Regardless of their motivation, the games now have more significance...and efforts like the Duke game, ISU game, IPFW and Valpo will probably end as costly conference losses.
It seems to me that Matty picks and chooses his battles as a coach...it also seems that he understands how to motivate a team during the Big Ten season (case in point- 11-game winning streak in '08). That said, teams are looking forward to playing Purdue this season as they became the BT's media darling prior to this season.
Wisconsin remembers being swept, MSU remembers being nearly beaten by a short-handed Purdue team at home then knocked out of the BT lead at Mackey, re-tooled Minnesota and Michigan squads both remember losses to the young Boilers in '08, and Northwestern is trying to stay respectable...avenging at least one of their losses to Purdue last season would go a long way in doing so.
On the flip-side, there is still much to prove for this Purdue team...and Matty knows that. They haven't beaten aOSU at home since the Value City Arena opened...February 3 gives them another chance. IU has beaten Purdue two out of the last three contests...and while most of the players wearing candy stripe pants were underclassmen in high school during the previous contests, Purdue should be no-less motivated. On a greater scale, Purdue and Painter have yet to win a Big Ten Championship...neither regular season nor tourney...and players and coaches alike have talked about this being a priority for them. And finally, the deepest a Painter-coached Purdue team has gotten in the NCAA tourney is the round of 32...There is still a lot left to be accomplished.
Purdue versus Illinois airs tonight on ESPN2 at 7:00.