It is official. Purdue’s first Big Ten Tournament game on Friday, as the tournament’s No. 1 seed, will come against the only team in the last 42 games to beat us by double digits. The Michigan Wolverines, the most recent team to beat Purdue, topped Illinois 75-55 today despite a severely compressed travel schedule due to a plane accident yesterday. The Illini were listless from the get-go and were never truly in it. The Wolverines were up 11 just over five minutes in and Illinois looked like the tired team that had travel issues. The less said about the Illini, the better, but they went out with losses to Rutgers and a 20 point blowout at the hands of Michigan after clawing their way back into tournament consideration.
That sets up a rematch from Purdue’s trip to Ann Arbor just 13 days ago.
From: Ann Arbor, MI
Date : Friday, March 10, 2017
Tip Time: Noon ET
Location: Washington, DC (18,277)
Arena: Verizon Center
Radio: Purdue Radio Network
SiriusXM Satellite: XM (Ch. 381); Internet (Ch. 968)
Live Stats: bit.ly/PurdueLiveStats
Odds: No Line Yet
2015-16 Record: 21-11, 10-8 Big Ten
2016-17 Record: 22-13, 10-8 Lost in NCAA Tournament First Round to Notre Dame 70-63
Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 86-68
Last Michigan win Win: 82-70 at Michigan on 2/15/2017
Last Purdue Win: 76-59 in Big Ten Tournament at Indianapolis on 3/12/2016
NCAA Tournament History: 26 Appearances, last in 2016. 1989 NCAA Champion
Last season Purdue and Michigan had a similar path in both meetings. Michigan won the regular season meeting in Ann Arbor while Purdue convincingly won the Big Ten Tournament game in Indianapolis in the semifinals. This year will be different though. The Wolverines were, dare I say, dominant against Purdue. Except for a late push that cut the lead to 6 inside the final two minutes Michigan was comfortably ahead throughout. They led by 15 at halftime and by as much as 21 at 68-47 before a furious comeback got it to 73-67 with 2:17 left. Derrick Walton Jr. hit an off-balance triple with 1:46 left and ended the comeback before things got too crazy though.
A lot of things went wrong for Purdue in Ann Arbor. The Boilers shot only 31.3% from three and Isaac Haas had a terrible game. Caleb Swanigan was kept off the boards with only five rebounds as both teams generally shot well. Michigan’s defense disrupted Purdue’s flow (only nine team assists) and never let the Boilers get comfortable.
Also, there was Mo Wagner, who finished with 24 points and had a monster first half. Purdue never had an answer for him because he can play outside and draw our bigs defensively away from the basket. He is really the key to disrupting Purdue. If he has another big game tomorrow Purdue is in trouble.
One player to look out for tomorrow is Carsen Edwards. The freshman had 18 points and his speed caused a lot of problems for the Michigan defense. It was by far his best game of the last five, as in the other four games he had only 15 points total. After Ryan Cline had taken his spot in the starting lineup it would not surprise me to see Edwards get it back tomorrow, given that Purdue’s only real threat against the Wolverines came when Edwards got going.
What Purdue needs to see in this game is an opportunity. Michigan is a tournament team. It is a shot at another top 50 win and a chance to show improvement from two weeks ago. The Wolverines are playing for a seed and with a lot of emotion after the events from yesterday. Purdue would like another win to secure a 4 seed and open up some hope of a 3 seed. A 3 seed doesn’t happen with a loss here.
As a final note, Jumboheroes is credentialed and will be in the house. He deserves credit for being there at the Maryland game that started the finishing kick for this Big Ten title, so let him start another long finishing kick.