Tomorrow is not going to be pretty.
In one corner you have an Indiana team that is humming on all offensive cylinders, playing team basketball, is defending well, and is currently ranked No. 1 in the country. They are playing in a building where they are invincible against anyone not named Bo Ryan and there will be a rabid crowd supporting their best team in decades going against a hated rival.
In the other corner you have a Purdue team that has lost four of its last five games and the one win was over a team that is 0-12 in league play. Purdue has not only played bad basketball, but they have been listless and appear to be a leaderless team playing with no cohesion, heart, or hustle. Offense has been an issue all season, but now rebounding and hustle are major issues, making a team that had been showing signs of progress as recently as a month ago look awful.
Again, it is not going to be pretty.
Location: Bloomington, IN
2011-12 record: 27-9, 11-7 Big Ten
2012-13 Record: 22-3, 10-2 Big Ten
2012 Postseason: Lost to Kentucky 102-90 in NCAA Sweet 16
Series With Purdue: Purdue Leads 112-87
Last Purdue win: 72-61 at Indiana on 2/23/2011
Last Indiana win: 97-60 at Purdue on 1/30/2013
There is no way around it. Purdue got its ass whipped the last time around. The lone bright spot was a 30-point performance from A.J. Hammons. That still was not enough to stop Indiana from breaking away from a 16-15 game at the second media timeout on a 31-12 run before the half. It was over after that.
In many ways that loss broke Purdue. It was the worst loss not just in the history of Mackey Arena, but in the entire home history of Purdue basketball. Had Indiana not been merciful it would have been worse. Since then, many of the same troubles Purdue had against a really good team have manifested themselves against teams not of the same caliber. Purdue had no defensive effort at Northwester, Penn State, or Illinois, but was lucky enough to have the Nittany Lions miss a ton of open shots for the only win in February. it is almost as if this team visibly quit since that beatdown.
Purdue pretty much refused to defend the perimeter and the Hoosiers made them pay, hitting 12 of 25 three-pointers. Christian Watford hit four of five, Kevin Ferrell hit three of four, and Victor Oladipo basically did what he wanted to do. Purdue couldn't stop any player, as evidenced by all five starters easily reaching double figures.
Even the oft-injured Maurice Creek hit a three against Purdue, along with Derek Elston. I can handle losing to Indiana, but this was a game where the effort was not there and it has gotten far worse since then. Terone Johnson was battling the flu and was held to four points, while "senior leader" D.J. Byrd also did very little.
Really, the only bright spot was Hammons, but his 30-5-5 wasn't able to even keep it close because everyone else was terrible. To complicate matters, Purdue had 18 turnovers with Ronnie Johnson, TJ, and D.J. committed 12 combined.
I talked about a lot of this extensively on yesterday's Crimson Cast podcast, but this has the potential to be an absolute bloodbath. With as good as Indiana can play offensively, its home court advantage, and as bad as Purdue has looked in terms of total lack of effort in the past few games it would not surprise me one bit if Indiana won by 50.
I don't think confidence as a Purdue fan could be any lower going into this one. I would be more stunned if Purdue lost by less than 20 than if they lost by more than 50. It is that bad.
So how could an absolute miracle happen, short of the entire Hoosier roster coming down with Legionairres Disease or something? First, the Boilers have to have a drastic injection of give-a-shit on the defensive end and on the glass. Purdue needs to attack the glass relentless and stick with players on the perimeter instead of following the ball. Everyone in the Big Ten this season, even Penn State, has been playing right up on ball-handlers, except Purdue. For the Boilers to even have the most remote of chances they have to play nasty, in your jersey defense that past Purdue teams have done.
Offensively, Hammons has to have another monster game while defending Cody Zeller in the post. He has to avoid foul trouble (hard to do in the Hall of Calls) and probably come up with a 30-15-5 game. TJ and Byrd have to each score 15 points at minimum with both opening things up with multiple threes. Rapheal Davis hitting the corner three that is there a few times would also great help. Turnovers need to be cut by at least 10 from the first game and the Hoosiers need to have a poor night shooting. By worse night I am talking about an offense averaging nearly 83 points per game scoring only about 63 because of poor shooting. If all that happens Purdue might, might have a chance.
Unfortunately, all the signs we have seen in the past five games point to almost none of this happening. Indiana has a chance to unleash an unmerciful beating tomorrow, and I think that is what happens.
Prediction: Indiana 103, Purdue 55