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Maryland at Purdue: Previews, Odds, & How to Watch

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The Big Ten title is gone, but a high seed is still within reach for Purdue.

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Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Purdue has sat for 7 days as the rest of the Big Ten has played. That was seven days to sit and stew over a loss at Indiana where a frenetic comeback nearly stole a win, but instead raised questions of, "Where was that effort all game?" the Hoosiers are now on the doorstep of winning the conference (something that was a strong possibility for Purdue earlier this year), while Purdue is perched precariously in 8th place. Sure, it is unlikely the Boilers will finish there. Ohio State and Michigan can still fall backwards and a top 4 finish for Purdue is very possible, but as we discussed on the podcast last night, it feels like a disappointment even at 21-7.

And that is what is so frustrating. Last year Purdue did not get its 21st (and, as it turned out, last) win until the Big Ten Tournament against Penn State. That was the final win that securely put the Boilers in the NCAA Tournament field. This year Purdue has long been in the field, if not among the top 4 seeds in a region. It has never left the top 25, one of only a handful of teams that can say so. It has been a better season than 2014-15, but in reality, not as fun.

It's not just that Purdue has lost some games. It is the way it has lost and the perceived lack of improvement from day 1. Last year something happened and Purdue got a lot better once the calendar flipped to 2015. This year it has been basically the same team all year: dominant up front, questionable backcourt, and you can tell within about 5 minutes of tipoff whether the game will be a win or loss.

It hurts even more when you look to the south and see Indiana, who was very similar to Purdue in that it had obvious flaws that were exposed. The Hoosiers got better (and before you say "weak schedule", they have gotten better). They were presented with chances like a weaker schedule and seized them. They had Iowa on their home floor and closed them out. They stomped Michigan in Ann Arbor when Purdue choked. They beat the living crap out of a bad Illinois team where Purdue had its worst game of the year. When the two played each other the final margin was close, but in reality Indiana was the better team for a large portion of the game even if they almost coughed it up. Indiana has simply seized its opportunities and Purdue did not.

That is why Indiana is having the season we all wanted.

So where are we now? There are still three regular season games with meaning even if a conference title is no longer in play. Two of them are at home and happen to be against top 40 opponents. Purdue's postseason profile is in the "very good, not excellent" range, but that can be improved upon. Beating Maryland and a red hot Wisconsin team (while taking care of business at Nebraska) would build a lot of confidence for a team that is clearly lacking some. It would send Purdue to Indianapolis at 24-7 and with at least the 5 seed. Purdue would also get the 4 seed in a three-way tie with Maryland and Wisconsin at 12-6, which would be very nice (even if we have to cheer for Indiana to beat Maryland to do so). A 4 seed means at least one more RPI-building chance in Indy, with the possibility of exacting revenge on Indiana and Iowa in later rounds.

So yes, there is a lot to play for. This is a team that can still have a memorable season and a deep March run. Hopefully the week off is exactly what this team has needed. If I have learned one thing on being in this rivalry for years it is that Big Ten achievements very little compared to March. We have a ton of Big Ten achievements. Nationally, only March matters. It is time to seize that and be the Purdue team that finally did something other than fall apart in March. As I often say: You can either piss and moan about things or do something about it. It's time for this team to do something about it.

Opponent

Maryland Terrapins

Location:

College Park, MD

Date:

2/27/2016

Venue:

Mackey Arena (14,240)

TV:

ESPN

Radio Stream:

TuneIn

Satellite Radio:

SIRI 136, XM

Odds:

No Line Yet

Tickets:

As low as $70 on Stubhub

Tipoff:

4:05 pm

KenPom Ranking:

21 of 351

RPI:

10

Blog Representation:

Testudo Times

2015-16 Record:

22-5, 11-4 Big Ten

All-time series

Maryland leads 2-0

Last Purdue win:

None

Last Maryland Win:

72-61 at Maryland on 2/6/2016

2014-15 Record:

28-7, 14-4 Big Ten (lost to West Virginia in NCAA Second Round

Last NCAA appearance:

2015 (25 appearances), 2002 NCAA Champion

Coach:

Mark Turgeon (109-55 in 5th year at Maryland, 359-214 overall, 1-2 vs. Purdue)

Purdue has lost three of its last five to fall out of the Big Ten race and it all began with one play. With 6:02 left Caleb Swanigan scored on a nice assist from Rapheal Davis to give the Boilers a 51-47 lead on the road. It was crunch time and Purdue had a two possession lead with momentum having scored five straight. It wasn't much, but in a tight game a small run can swing anything. Just 18 seconds later Swanigan lost Robert Carter in the corner. Carter splashed home a huge 3-pointer that ignited the game-winning 16-2 run by the Terrapins.

It was another missed opportunity for Purdue. It probably rates third when paired with the home loss to Iowa and the loss at Michigan a week later, but it still hurts because Purdue led in the late stages and couldn't finish the job. The Boilers scored two points over a 5 minute stretch and it cost them just like both Iowa games, the Michigan game, and even the Indiana game.

Maryland also had 27 free throw attempts to Purdue's 5, and that was not due to officiating. It was due to Maryland realizing they weren't hitting jumpers (except for Carter), so they started attacking the basket. Purdue never did this, and instead settled for brick after brick in going 3 of 25 from three. Those two stats swung a close game where Purdue was leading into a double digit loss in the span of five minutes.

The good news is Purdue is at home and we know they can compete with the Terps. Maryland has also been questionable at best on the road. Of their five losses, four have come away from home ranging from North Carolina (a possible number 1 seed) to Minnesota (a complete shocker). They also had near misses at Ohio State, Nebraska, and Wisconsin.

Purdue needs this game desperately. It needs to prove it can beat this type of team again in order to show a deep run is possible. Yes, the Michigan State win was great, but it nearly became an epic choke. The Boilers are also going to have to beat multiple teams of this caliber if they are going to make a deep run. With a win, Purdue climbs to a 4 seed and maybe even range to a very nice three seed, depending on the last two games and Indianapolis.

A three seed can be huge for many reasons. First, your opening game is much, much easier (remember St. Peter's?), especially when it is unlikely a 14 seed will have any sort of size to battle A.J. Hammons. Second, it means protected placement nearby, possibly in St. Louis for the first and second rounds and maybe Louisville or Chicago for the next two rounds. Third, Purdue would avoid a No. 1 seed until the last possible round, making the infamous broken bracket scenario possible.

I know this team is good enough to beat Maryland. I know this team is good enough to erase the bad taste of February with a great and memorable March run. We have seen moments if sublime basketball from them such as the start of the Pittsburgh game, the first halves at home against Iowa and Michigan State, and the complete Florida game. That's why they have been frustrating because we want to see more of it and it has sometimes disappeared in the same game. Saturday is another chance to show what this team can do.