In just their sixth game of the season, the #4 team in the land will find a home on national television. What was the rush, EsPN?
As you know if you read this site, tonight is Purdue's shot at the ACC in the form of Wake Forest in the eleventh annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge, or as ESPN likes to call it "We love the ACC and the Big Ten sucks."
As everyone has pointed out, the Big Ten has lost the Challenge every year for ten years. And this is the year many thought the Big Ten might right the ship. However, don't be surprised if it doesn't happen. A bunch of Big Ten schools mailed it in over the weekend, doing about as much damage to the conference's rep at this early juncture as they could. And I look at this year's slate of Big Ten/ACC games and don't see our conference winning.
I mean, seriously, should this matter to us? I don't think so. What should matter to us is Purdue's game tonight against Wake Forest. Wake lost a game to William and Mary over the weekend, so that's not necessarily good and it takes some luster off what could have been a matchup of 5-0 teams. However, Wake is still a good squad and one who people take notice of, right after UNC and Duke in the ACC.
Last year, everyone was amped for the Purdue-Duke showdown in Mackey. We had those guys on our floor, in our house, and so forth.... and the boys showed they were not ready for prime time.
This year, sure, it's not Duke, but it's still a big game. Purdue needs to show they can and will be as evenly prepared for each game as they have been through their first five. Sure, there have been concerns about rebounding, about fouls, about depth, about inexperienced players, etc. However, the team has looked about as prepared and focused in games against patsies as they have in games against legit teams. Last year, they surely were ready for Duke -- almost over-ready, if that makes any sense. They were so hyped up, they seemed to hardly be able to find the handle. Duke methodically wore them down and there was no coming back. Whether you love or hate programs like Duke, Purdue wants to get to a place where they're consistent. It's a word you hear overused in sports, but when you think about what it can mean, it often applies. This is one of those cases.
Purdue does not need thirty points from Smooge tonight (although we'd take it). They don't need the Ostrich to shoot 70% from three-land (although it'd be fun). They need to simply be consistent every time down the floor and let their talent, shooting and defensive skills take this game over. They're at home, they're unquestionably a better team, and they should win this game. Sure, sometimes that can make it harder if you start thinking too much about it, but let's hope they are well coached by Matty.
For those interested in chatting live about the game, we defer this evening to our friend T-Mill over at Hammer and Rails. He has sold out and obtained a press pass for this evening's tilt and will be running a Cover It Live babble-fest from press row. Be sure to visit and offer insightful things to ask the players afterward as well as tell him how awesome Boiled Sports is.