For a long time we could take round two for granted. Really, we’re about 5 total seconds from having won 17 straight first round games. But a couple of NCAA-less years and two brutal collapses it just feels good to get past someone and still be playing. The Boilers are in the second round first the first time since 2012, and now it is time to move on to round three since 2010, then the Elite 8 for the first time since 2000, the Final Four since 1980, the title game since 1969, and win the whole damn thing for the first time ever.
Okay, we’re getting ahead of ourselves a bit, but a ticket to Kansas City and the Sweet 16 is on the line tomorrow night. In the way is a very good Iowa State team.
From: Ames, Iowa
Date : Saturday, March 18, 2017
Tip Time: 9:40pm ET
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Arena: BMO Harris Bradley Center (18,850)
Online: March Madness On Demand
Radio: Purdue Radio Network
SiriusXM Satellite: XM (Ch. 381); Internet (Ch. 968)
Live Stats: bit.ly/PurdueLiveStats
Odds: No Line Yet
2015-16 Record: 23-12, 10-8 Big 12, lost to Virginia 84-71 in NCAA Sweet 16
2016-17 Record: 24-10, 12-6 Big 12 (Won Big 12 tournament)
Opponent Blog: Wide Right & Natty Light
Series with Purdue: Series tied 2-2
Last Iowa State Win: 83-80 on 12/22/2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada
Last Purdue Win: 79-60 on 12/24/1995 in Bayamon, Puerto Rico
NCAA Tournament History: 19 appearances (6 straight), best finish: 1944 Final Four
The last time Purdue and Iowa State met in basketball was the freshman season of Robbie Hummel, JaJuan Johnson, and E’Twaun Moore. The Boilers had just lost at home to Wofford and the 83-80 loss to Iowa State in the Las Vegas Classic moved the Baby Boilers to 7-4. They had lost games at Clemson and Missouri, but the Iowa State loss looked like a big blow.
Purdue would go on to win 14 of its next 15 games to put the Hummel-Moore-Johnson group on the map.
That Iowa State team missed the NCAAs, but has now been to six tournaments in a row. In two of the previous three seasons the Cyclones have gone on to the Sweet 16, but like Purdue, they are seeking their first Elite 8 appearance since 2000. They have also won three of the last four Big 12 tournaments, so this is a program that has become accustomed to postseason success. Kansas may own the Big 12 regular season, but Iowa State has done plenty of damage in the postseason.
Iowa State did well outside of its conference this year. They beat Mount St. Mary’s and Miami as NCAA teams. They only beat Indiana State by 2 in a tournament in Florida, but that was before the Trees fell off a cliff. In the same tournament they beat Miami and only lost to No. 1 seed Gonzaga by 2. They dropped a close home game to Cincinnati and also lost at Iowa.
In Big 12 play they more than held their own. Perhaps their most impressive win was February 4th when they went to Kansas and won 92-89 to break the 51-game home court winning streak for the Jayhawks.
In that game, the two players Purdue will have to worry about the most simply went off. Deonte Burton had 29 points and Monte Morris had 25. Those two comprise a backcourt that is both experienced and extremely talented. Morris averages 16.4 points, 6.1 assists, and 4.9 rebounds while shooting 39% from three. He is a dynamic PG that will be extremely tough to guard.
It is not like Burton is any easier to handle. He averages 14.8 points and 6.3 rebounds as a bruising 6’5” 250 pound guard in watching him against Nevada last night he looked like an extremely tough matchup for the Boilers. He is built like a defensive end, but he has explosive athleticism. Oh, and he shoots 37% from three.
As if Purdue’s problem wasn’t big enough on the perimeter, Nazareth Mitrou-Long is a 6’4” senior guard averaging 15.4 points per game. He also shoots 39% from three and had 22 in the upset at Kansas. I’ll be blunt: this is a backcourt built to give our perimeter defense fits. Matt Thomas, a 6’5” senior guard, is the fourth guard that averages in double figures at 12.1 points per game and he is the best shooter of them all at 44.4% from three.
It is no secret what they are going to do. They are going to spread the floor with their four guards and trust their three-point shooting. Burton and Morris are more than good enough to drive and either score or kick out to the open shooter. All four guards were in double figures against Nevada and were a combined 8 of 18 from three. We need to be ready to step in front and take some charges like old school Purdue teams.
So how does Purdue counter? Well, we have our own matchup advantage with Isaac Haas and Caleb Swanigan inside. Iowa State has a 7-man rotation and no player that regularly plays over 6’8”. There is no real post presence, so if Haas can have a solid game offensively he has a big matchup advantage. The unfortunate advantage is he becomes the defensive liability we saw against Michigan because he can’t guard anyone on the perimeter. Solomon Young and Darrell Bowie are their two main post players. Both are 6’8” and generally stay close in to the basket, but Bowie is 5 of 15 from three and young is 1 of 3.
It is really a clash of styles here and whoever establishes their will win. Purdue’s best bet is to establish the post and get them in foul trouble because they have a short bench. They are kind of like Michigan State in that they have no answer for Haas and Swanigan, so for us to win this game has to play out like those two. Haas is probably the biggest key. We already know we’re getting a double-double from Biggie because that is what he does every game. What about Haas though? Well, he was offensively dominant against Michigan last week with 17 points, but can still be exploited defensively by teams like this. He is capable of having a 9 for 11 game from the field agaisnt a team like this, and that is probably what we need.
On the other hand, they have four senior guards that are quick and good shooters. Oh, they also have three guys playing at home, as they come from Milwaukee. Unless a large contingent comes up from Indiana this will be a virtual road game. Donovan Jackson (a reserve who had 12 points last night), Burton, and Bowie are all from Milwaukee, and all three enjoyed playing well in front of the home crowd last night.
This is going to be an extremely tough game. We need good Vince on both ends of the floor. We need a dominant and, dare I say, mean Haas on offense. We need POTY Biggie. Our frontcourt is a dominant strength in this game, but their backcourt is… fearsome. We have got to get to the line and get them into foul trouble with our bigs. If there is one bright spot it is that Iowa State struggled in the second half last night. They kept leaving the door open for Nevada to come back. Purdue has got to survive their early punches and just punish them down low.
It should be fun, at least by certain definitions of fun.