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D.J. Byrd and Dru Anthrop win their final game at Mackey Arena.
I haven't been able to see any of today's game yet, but I caught most of the second half returning from Marion and it sounds like the day could not have gone much better for the Boilers. Sure, Bryson Scott could have won this morning, but he played his heart out in scoring 27 points and pulling down 17 rebounds (10 of them offensive) as he showed we are getting a solid player with a ton of heart.
As for the current Boilers, Dru Anthrop and D.J. Byrd were sent off with the highest offensive output of the season. Scoring 89 points against anyone in this Big Ten is an accomplishment. Scoring 89 against a solid rebounding team like Minnesota, who clamped down on the No. 1 team in the nation 10 days ago, is even better. The Golden Gophers were playing for a solid Big Ten Tournament seed and possibly an NCAA berth, but Purdue made sure they did not show up.
After so many years of Purdue peaking in January and February, it appears as if the Boilers are playing their best basketball at the perfect time. Yes, it is probably a pipe dream that this victory will start a miraculous 11-game winning streak that results in a Big Ten Tournament title and a National Championship, but I am at least confident after three straight strong, consistent efforts that Purdue at least won't be an easy out next week in Chicago.
Speaking of Chicago, we now know a few things about Purdue's placement in the Big Ten Tournament after this one. Before getting into what the individuals did in Dru and D.J.'s final game, here is how the Big Ten seeding scenario looks like.
- Penn State is the 12
- Northwestern is the 11
- Nebraska is the 10
- Minnesota will be the 9 seed after losing and Iowa beating Nebraska.
- If Ohio State beats Illinois, Purdue is the No. 7 seed and Illinois is the No. 8. If Illinois wins, Purdue is the No. 8. This is critical, as getting to the 7 means Purdue avoids Indiana (it's biggest mismatch) until the championship game instead of the opening game on Friday.
- Iowa is the No. 6 seed and will face No. 11 Northwestern.
- Indiana is the No. 1 seed.
- No. 2 through 5 is not set at all until tomorrow, though the majority of scenarios have Wisconsin on the five playing Penn State. This would be the first time under Bo Ryan the Badgers play on Thursday of the BTT.
- Wisconsin can go no higher than the 3 seed.
- Your Thursday games are Purdue/Illinois vs. Minnesota, undecided vs. Penn State, Iowa vs. Northwestern, and Purdue/Illinois vs. Nebraska.
- If Purdue is the No. 7 seed it plays at 6:30 on Thusday. If they are the No. 8 they play at Noon.
On to today's game:
D.J. Byrd - We knew D.J. would go out shooting, and today he did not disappoint. He hit four triples, had 18 points, was hustling, and seemed to have an answer every time it looked like the Gophers would make a run. I should also note his 7 rebounds and five assists. We've been harsh on D.J. all season long, mostly because he was the lone regular-playing senior on a team that struggled. He also struggled, so he took probably too much criticism. It was great to see him close strong, and it is my hope he stays hot and Purdue makes a memorable run in Chicago. He's not done yet.
Rapheal Davis - Has the light come on for Ray D.? Larry Clisby seemed to think so as I listened to the second half. The Clis raved about his work ethic and today's 18 points was a second straight solid effort for the freshman. He was one of three freshmen in double figures today.
Ronnie Johnson - I think Ronnie has shown incredible growth since the second Indiana game. The game seems to be slowing down for him and even his jumper is looking better. Because he rebounds well for his size I predict he will have at least one triple-double before his career ends. Just please, start hitting free throws.
A.J. Hammons - I saw a lot of positive tweets about Hammons today and it is my hope that the sudden emergence of the Chooch has lit a fire in Hammons. The pair could make a hell of a duo next year, and just once I want to see coach Painter play them at the same time. I also saw a possible replacement for him today in 2014 prospect Steve McElvene, who was dominant for New Haven with 24 points, 16 rebounds, and 8 blocks as a 6'11" junior. Painter needs to give him a look as Hammons insurance if the light stays on for him.
Anthony Johnson - Another player that has taken a lot of flack this year has had 9 points off the bench. As one of our most reliable free throw shooters, we need him.
Jacob Lawson - This is mostly a bad note, as people talked about some poor body language. Also, it is probably not a good sign that Stephen Toyra and Neal Beshears made it in as walk-ons, but not Lawson.
On to Chicago
Purdue has a very interesting path in Chicago if Ohio State beats Illinois tomorrow. The Boilers face Nebraska, whom they have dominated the last two seasons. They would then play Ohio State, Michigan State, or Michigan. They went 0-5 against that group, but at least played them tough and four of those losses were before this current, better incarnation came together. An upset send them to the semifinals against a similar team, Wisconsin, or the Iowa/Northwestern winner if they make it that far. The dream of winning four games in four days to steal the autobid is still a dream, but at least it seems very slightly possible.
So, they're keeping score and we're invited, let's go to Chicago and see what happens.