By the Numbers: The Worst of Times, The Best of Times

Soooo ... that game in Iowa City.

Limit Iowa's transition game? So-so. Iowa had 10 steals (bad), but scored just 7 points off them, thanks to bad free-throw shooting (three steals turned into Purdue fouls and then zero points).

Fouls, period? Terrible. 24 fouls, including 5 on Ronnie and 4 on A.J., leading to 29 attempts at the line, more than enough to decide the game. (Aaron White was 11-14; Purdue was 7-10.)

Brick: a material used in buildings
and outside shots.

Shot selection? Could have been better. Inside guys were not bad (Hale, Hammons, Carroll, and Marcius combined to shoot 12-23), but outside guys were bad (4-15 from 2, 3-14 from 3). Purdue had 10 offensive rebounds, but managed just 5 points off those.

End result = bad basketball in a loss. Let's move on, shall we? At this rate, we'll be seeing them in Indianapolis a city that is clearly not Indianapolis next Thursday anyway, and I can repeat what I said last time.

Madison, Wisconsin. Purdue has a 6% chance of pulling this one off. Wisconsin's only real weakness seems to be the free-throw line (shooting worse than Purdue in conference play), specifically Ryan Evans. And Wisconsin pulls out to a 13-point first-half lead. Win probability: 1.9%.

Purdue then outscored Wisconsin 50-24. Wisconsin held 9 opponents to fewer than 50 points in a game ... and 3 more to 51 points. Purdue managed that in 27 minutes.

Our memories of yesterday
will last a lifetime ...
(Reese Strickland/USA Today sports)
  • Three-point shooting. D.J. was 6 of 9, shining on Senior Night. Oh wait ... that was their senior night. Whoops. His bad. (Purdue attempted only three other long-distance shots, one by each of three players. That's fine.) I'm not sure anyone else has hit that many three-point shots against Wisconsin this season; heck, most teams aren't hitting that many threes against them, and certainly not in Madison.
  • Three-point defense. Wisconsin was excellent from two (16-27, .593, well above their .469 conference mark), but hit just 6 of 28 from downtown, and all six came in the first half. Read that again: Wisconsin took one more shot from three-point range despite shooting nearly 400 points better from inside the arc. At home. In a game they led by 13. If you missed the game and I left out the team names, you'd swear Purdue did that.
  • Tolerable FT shooting. Ronnie was 0-4; the rest of the team was 11-13.

It's easy to underestimate the value of having a deeper bench. While Painter was able to call on guys like Marcius and Hale, guys who don't normally get a lot of playing time, Ryan doesn't have that, so when his players aren't doing what they should be, he has limited options.

Also, the Evans thing is spooky. He's shooting .417 from the line this season; he shot .726 last season. I don't know how to find this out, but I'd guess there isn't one guy in ten years who drops 300 points in one season with as many attempts as Evans has. He's also 2-23 from three (that's zlionsfan territory right there, only I'd have to be wiiiiide open on the makes) ... if you need any proof that psychology can be a major factor in sports, Evans is it.

Anyway, the upset plus a couple of other factors (Penn State) give Purdue a roughly 50-50 chance of stealing a game this week. That'd still leave them two wins shy of the NIT, so don't count on any games beyond the Minnesota game in Mackey.

A loss would give Painter his first-ever winless season against Michigan teams (0-5 with EMU as a "bonus" loss).

To beat Michigan, Purdue needs to be effective on offense: Penn State beat Michigan despite taking one fewer shot (and allowing the Wolverines to hit .658 from two) by hitting threes (10-20, with Jermaine Marshall hitting 6 of 10) and free throws (20-27). Also, Michigan doesn't draw fouls (.286 FTA/FGA, 11th in conference play), so don't help them out. Make them work for shots and see if you can get their offense out of sync ... unfortunately it isn't like Purdue has that much more experience to take advantage of Michigan's young team.

In Ann Arbor, Purdue was just 7 of 22 from outside, but a bigger problem, perhaps, was their two-point defense: Michigan was 20-39 from two and also had 12 offensive rebounds. Morgan and McGary can't be getting easy putbacks; the Michigan offense is good enough when Burke is allowed to run it freely, so taking away second-chance points should be a priority.

Purdue hasn't closed the regular season against Minnesota since 1988; #2 Purdue crushed the Gophers then, 93-66.

To beat Minnesota, Purdue needs to force turnovers. The Gophers are last in turnover percentage (21.8%), but Purdue is last in forcing turnovers (15.3%); one of those things has to go. Northwestern knocked off Minnesota in part by picking up 9 steals; Purdue will need a similar effort, particularly so they can avoid Trevor Mbakwe (7.0 Blk%, 101st in DI).

If they can't manage that, they'll need outside accuracy ... although three-point percentage against isn't as good of an indicator as number of threes taken, the Gophers are 11th in conference play, allowing opponents to shoot .366 from beyond the arc, and Illinois hit 11 of 23 in their win in Williams Arena in February.

At this point, the Big Ten has really separated itself into four groups: the solid teams (the top six), the bubble-type teams (Illinois and Iowa), the Good Guys, and the bad teams (Northwestern has plummeted into that group, and they may well end up losing to Penn State Thursday). Purdue is 34 places behind eighth-best Illinois and 58 places ahead of tenth-best Northwestern ... enough of a gap that an NIT bid probably hinges on their ability to draw Nebraska or Northwestern in round 1. Illinois does face Iowa and Ohio State, both on the road, so two losses for them plus a Purdue split (or sweep) could make things interesting for seeding purposes. Too bad that'll give Iowa an extra win, too ...

A three-way tie is certainly possible ... but which one?

'The Marcius Game' and cutting down the nets...Basketball gumbo.

With Bollman Out, aOSU fans Happy...for US?