As you know, we have always been at war with Iowa. The hatred we have with Indiana is a school yard fight compared to the Battle of Stalingrad-level bloodfeud with have with the Hawkeyes. That in mind, Ross WB still wanted to talk some basketball in advance of tomorrow's game.
T-Mill: Am I to understand the Purdue-Iowa hate is cooling a bit, or is the fact we're only playing once this year and next a sign Delany still fears the rivalry?
ROSS: I think he fears the righteous fury of our hatred and what could happen if we continued to meet two times a year and had twice as many opportunities to unleash our animosity on one another. For the good of the Big Ten -- nay, the world -- Delany knows that Iowa and Purdue can only meet once per year (Big Ten Tournament notwithstanding). But that's OK -- I'm sure we can pack twice the hate into one game if need be.
T-Mill: What was up with Iowa's defense this week? 90+ points in consecutive games is pretty bad.
ROSS: It was bad. Really bad. After the Minnesota game, I thought it was mostly just an issue of Minnesota having one of those lights-out shooting nights that you can't do much about that. And while that was probably partially true, especially when it came to Minnesota's long-range shooting efforts, the fact that Iowa's defense got torched again on Thursday night suggests that there are some flaws in the defense itself. Iowa's rotations seemed a bit slow on Tuesday and Thursday, with guys being out of position a little too often, which gave Minnesota and Indiana players a lot of open looks and free drives to the basket. Iowa's transition defense was also abysmal -- both the Gophers and the Hoosiers were able to beat the Hawkeyes back down the court with regularity and score quick buckets on Iowa. I'm very curious to see what sort of adjustments Iowa makes against Purdue -- whatever they do, it can hardly get much worse for Iowa on that end of the floor.
T-Mill: In your mind is Roy Devyn Marble still a possible Big Ten POTY?
ROSS: I think so, although I understand that Iowa's team struggles this week have probably torpedoed his chance at the award. But Marble's been very good during this stretch: 20+ points in every game, almost 50% FG shooting (24/50), almost 50% 3FG shooting 7/16), 11 rebounds, 22 assists. He's had some costly turnovers late in a few of those games, but for the most part he's been very good -- and this is pretty much what he's done all season in Big Ten play. He hasn't missed any games and he hasn't had any real lulls in his play the way some other B1G POY contenders have. Marble's been excellent; if he had a bit more help (especially lately), Iowa would probably be an actual Big Ten title contender.
T-Mill: If Iowa drops this one are they suddenly on the NCAA Bubble?
ROSS: I'm not sure they're on the bubble if they lose to Purdue, but they'd definitely be closer and their momentum would certainly be headed the wrong way. The thing is, they haven't been really been rocketing down the mock brackets even with this three-game losing streak. They seem to have built up quite a bit of goodwill before this recent funk, although they're likely burning through all of it right now. It also helps that a lot of the teams that have been on the same bracket tier as them have also been losing lately, like Ohio State and Kentucky. But it would sure make me feel a lot better about their NCAA Tourney aspirations if they could get a win soon.
T-Mill: What sort of self-punishment did you take for giving up 30 points to Will freaking Sheehey?
ROSS: Watching Will freaking Sheehey score 30 points on your team is a pretty brutal punishment in its own right, no? It certainly made for a very long two hours on Thursday night. I thought about drinking some expired milk, too, but I figured watching that Iowa game was enough to turn my stomach.