Michigan Beats Up Boilers on UM's Senior Night
The table was set quite well for the Boilers- Win out, win the outright regular season title for the first time in a generation (1996). Senior night in Ann Arbor; Michigan playing for their NCAA tourney lives...and for the second time in the season, Purdue's opponent would be playing for a sick kid...Hate seeing sick kids, obviously...but Purdue had to stand-up and play motivated, regardless of the circumstances, because that's what championship-caliber teams do.
Purdue didn't look at all like a MAC champ today, let alone a Big Ten conference champion contender. Losses happen, especially on the road in college basketball...but the way Purdue seemed to not compete for about 25 minutes was tough to swallow.
Swanigan and Haas simply couldn't defend Michigan's Wagner for the first 20 minutes. In the first half, he had 22 points as he rained threes and drove around Purdue's big men...all while laughing at them and talking trash. Perhaps it wasn't in English, so it didn't light a fire under Purdue's vaunted frontcourt.
As Swanigan's POY tour has started closing down, Biggie has looked amazingly human. In two straight games, he has struggled to find consistency, on the offensive end...but worse, he's played some of the worst defense I've seen from a Purdue big man in the last 20 years. Teams now seem to be licking their chops to have Swanigan guarding their skilled big man.
Instead of making an adjustment to try to slow down Wagner, Painter waited...and waited...and waited. He stuck with his game plan until the second half, when he put Vincent Edwards on Wagner. Wagner's foul trouble, coupled with the easy adjustment brought him back to earth...he only had two additional points in that half and missed shots pretty badly since he had a hand in his face. But it really didn't matter. Michigan extended their 17 point halftime lead to 22 points deep in the second half...and Purdue's sense of urgency kicked in with about four minutes left.
The Good Guys had a chance to cut the lead to single digits with around three minutes left, but after a missed Thompson layup, Michigan pushed Purdue back and finally won 82-70. In doing so, they earned their 19th win, moved closer to an NCAA bid and honored a sick kid.
At the same time, Painter and his Boilers showed no urgency and simply looked inept in the process. The B1G's leading three point shooting team shot just 31%, while allowing Michigan to shoot over 42% (55% from the field). Bad offense plus slowly-reacting defense is a bad formula for success. Our Boilers cut down on turnovers (from the PSU game) and outrebounded UM by seven...but when they really needed a stop, either Wagner (1st half) would score or Walton (2nd half) would find a way.
In an effort to change something up (I guess), Painter had a continuation of philosophy from the PSU game to the UM game. Versus PSU, he played C. Edwards just 16 minutes, in this one, he didn't start him, nor play him many minutes in the first half. With the start, Cline finished with just two points. My bias leans heavily toward Edwards- the Freshman is quicker than anyone on Purdue's team, can create shots for himself, which is something most of Purdue's guards can't do...and as a Freshman, his upside seems pretty large. Painter's experiment to shock the Boilers into a different style of play didn't work.
This felt familiar. Purdue had a ton to play for, but looked listless at times. And while I'm not a guy who cares about the B1G title, I care very much about seeding...and while Purdue might not have gained a ton by winning tonight in Ann Arbor, they surely lost ground today. A top 4 seed is essential for Painter's squad to have any chance to get out of the first weekend in the dance.
Biggie finished with 18/5, but turned the ball over five times as well. Boogie had 18/4 and Vincent had 13 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists.
I would like Purdue to have a chance to play UM in DC on a neutral court...but it shouldn't matter, honestly. Purdue is a better team...but looked overmatched today. Painter, Biggie and Purdue allowed Beilein, Wagner and Michigan to dictate the pace and tenor of the game.
Fellow BS founder J thinks MSU will handle Wisconsin tomorrow and put Purdue back in the driver's seat for the conference title, but Purdue's seeding might have already taken a bit of a hit. If Purdue can handle their business at home versus the reeling Hoosiers, then Northwestern is all that stands in the way. In previous seasons, that wouldn't be a big deal, this year, the scrappy 'Cats, playing to cement their tourney invite will give Purdue all it can handle...IF the Boilers that we saw this afternoon in AA show up.
There's still lots of basketball left to be played...and tons of fun to be had for Purdue faithful, if these guys can find some rhythm. But at the same time, The Forces of Good and and their leader have a ton to prove to some skeptical Purdue fans and the greater college basketball world.
Next up, an unusual Senior night versus IU on Tuesday at 7:00pm...Purdue will honor McKeeman and Albrecht.