WBB Probably Loses to Buckeyes, Still In First Place
Sorry for the delay on this - apparently all the marketing $$ in the world can't buy you up-to-date online services. Unless you've got the actual BTN itself, sometime in the fourth quarter on Sunday, the game basically came to a halt. CBS' GameTracker apparently decided that there was no point in following the rest of the game, so a few game minutes after they tried to tell us the fourth quarter had ended (even though the stats clearly only went through three quarters), it simply stopped updating. BEE ONE GEE. (To be fair, when the Big 14 yanked online coverage out from under CBS and quickly created BTN "Plus", CBS was the company that politely refunded my money and did their best to explain things from their side, while BTN pretended they had no idea anything had changed.)
Anyway, all you really need to know about the game is that the Buckeyes shot .586 from three, which is close to the point where you wonder why they would ever shoot from anywhere else on the court. (The answer is that they shot .600 from two; yeah, that's not close to the eFG% on their threes, but one feeds the other. I suspect there's a point not too far past OSU's ratio where your three accuracy decreases because teams defend it more because you don't shoot twos.) Also, Purdue shot .408 from two, which isn't great, especially on a lot of attempts (20 for 49). That outweighed a significant edge in rebounds (40-28), which itself was partially offset by the turnover margin (-4, 15-19 in favor of OSU).
Kelsey Mitchell and Shayla Cooper led the outside assault, hitting 5 of 9 and 4 of 4 respectively. Ameryst Alston was only 2 of 7, dropping her season average to .352, so it actually could have been worse. Even defensive specialist Cait Craft (yes, she's that guy's sister) hit her only attempt. Alston added another 16 on 8-for-12 from inside the arc, and 3 more from the line gave her 25 to complement Mitchell's 27. Yes, Ohio State isn't deep - only seven players played a minute or more - but when four of them combine for 78 points, they don't have to be.
The usual suspect led the Good Gals: April Wilson with 19 on 19 shot equivalents, Ashley Morrissette with 17 on 18, and Dominique McBryde with 12 on 11. OSU's defense made Purdue work for most of their points: if it hadn't been for 13 fast-break points, the final score would have looked even worse. McBryde led everyone with 7 rebounds ... it's too bad that there isn't a good way to get her more playing time this season, because she's certainly doing a lot with the time she gets. Surprisingly - or perhaps not, given the outside nature of the OSU offense - no Boiler had more than three fouls.
Thankfully, the Buckeyes are off the schedule now, barring a matchup in Indianapolis, which isn't out of the question given the current standings, with Ohio State atop a three-way tie for first at 5-1 (they've beaten Maryland in College Park) and Michigan State in fourth at 4-2 (um, 5-2 now that they've beaten Rutgers), followed by fifty teams at 3-3 or something like that. Purdue has a chance to separate that pack even further this coming week, as they host 3-3 Nebraska tomorrow and 3-3 Iowa on Sunday, then travel to East Lansing on the 27th. After that, their last chance for real quality wins prior to the Big 14 tournament will be the games against Maryland (home on 2/2, road on 2/11). Split those and a top-four finish should be all but guaranteed; lose them both, and expect to see both a weak seed in March and complaints about it from people who don't look deeper than W/L record.
For as well as Purdue has played this season, they've got just five top-25 Massey games on their schedule: Louisville (W), Stanford (OT L), OSU (L), and the Maryland games. Yes, RPI plays a bigger factor, and since it's basically a counting stat, Purdue looks pretty decent there ... but even so, they dropped to 23rd from 16th, and the Boilers sit at 3-1 on the road. Maryland shot up to 19th, and Iowa's actually 21st, so quality wins can still be had.
Enough of this! Purdue's a solid third in Massey, down one spot to 17th, and Massey shows a clear gap between fourth-place MSU (22nd, 2.11) and fifth-place Iowa (33rd, 2.02). Win tomorrow, and they'll be just fine.
#17 Purdue (5-1, 14-3)
Wed vs #49 Nebraska
Sun vs #33 Iowa
1/27 at #22 Michigan State
#7 Ohio State (5-1, 13-4)
Thu at #59 Michigan
Sun at #36 Rutgers
1/28 vs #43 Northwestern
#5 Maryland (5-1, 16-2)
Wed at #136 Wisconsin
Sat vs #22 Michigan State
1/26 at #168 Penn State
#22 Michigan State (5-2, 14-4)
W today vs #36 Rutgers
Sat at #5 Maryland
1/27 at #17 Purdue