To win the Big Ten title this season I think 15-3 will be enough. Everyone except Purdue and Ohio State already has at least one loss, so it looks like that may stand up again this year.. Here was the final conference record for each champion of the past 10 years:
2017 – Purdue – 14-4
2016 – Indiana – 15-3
2015 – Wisconsin – 16-2
2014 – Michigan – 15-3
2013 – Indiana 13-5
2012 – Ohio State, Michigan State, & Michigan – 13-5
2011 – Ohio State – 16-2
2010 – Purdue, Ohio State, & Michigan State – 14-4
2009 – Michigan State – 15-3
2008 – Wisconsin – 16-2 *
I used 10 years because that is how long we have had the 18-game conference schedule. Only once in there, in 2007, did a team finish 15-3 and not get at least a share of the conference. In 2008 Purdue handed Wisconsin both of its conference losses, but finished 15-3 thanks to a three-point loss at Michigan State (a game Robbie Hummel missed with the flu), a 9-point loss at Indiana, and a 3-point overtime loss at Ohio State.
That team followed a formula that I think Purdue can do this year: It was 9-0 at home and 6-3 on the road. Purdue is already 2-0 away from Mackey Arena in Big Ten play, so a win tomorrow in The Barn would already have us halfway to that 6-3 goal. Even better, 5 of Purdue’s 6 remaining road games would be against teams below the 100 line in the current RPI.
Obviously upsets can happen at any time. It is very unlikely Purdue will run the table through the Big Ten because that has not happened since 1976. A win over the Gophers would clear an important hurdle, however, because being 6-0 a third of the way through the league schedule would be excellent.
From: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Date : Saturday, January 13, 2018
Tip Time: Noon ET
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Arena: Williams Arena (14,625)
Radio: Purdue Radio Network
SiriusXM Satellite: XM (Ch. 381); Internet (Ch. 968)
Live Stats: bit.ly/PurdueLiveStats
2016-17 Record: 24-10, 11-7 Big Ten (lost to Middle Tennessee State 81-72 in NCAA First Round)
2017-18 Record: 13-5, 2-3 Big Ten
Opponent Blog: The Daily Gopher
Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 101-83
Last Minnesota Win: 91-82 (OT) at Purdue on 1/1/2017
Last Purdue Win: 68-64 at Minnesota on 1/27/2016
NCAA Tournament History: 13 appearances, last in 2017. 1997 Final Four
Coach: Richard Pitino (88-66 in 5th season at Minnesota, 106-80 overall)
One of the more shocking results of last season was Minnesota coming to Mackey Arena and punching us in the mouth on New Year’s Day. The Gophers jumped out to a big early lead, survived as Purdue pushed it to overtime, and walked away with a strong 9-point win that was a springboard to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in four years. Purdue has lost only three times at home in the past three years, and this game was one of them.
That game was probably a big reason that Minnesota was highly thought of coming into this year. They had recovered from a disastrous 2015-16 season to reach the NCAAs in 2017 with a young team. Much of that squad was back, so they started the season ranked 15th and were as high as 12th before losing at home to Miami (FL) in the ACC/Big Ten challenge.
That’s when things really started to unravel. They were shocked at Nebraska 78-68 in their second Big Ten game in December, then dropped a road game at Arkansas. About a week ago Reggie Lynch was suspended indefinitely and recommended for expulsion due to sexual assault allegations. He is somehow still practicing with the team as the appeal process works its way through despite his latest allegation being the third such incident and he was already found responsible for the first two. He was averaging 10.1 points and 8 rebounds as their top big man, but it is extremely unlikely he will play.
Since his suspension they have lost at home to Indiana 75-71 and looked completely disinterested in an 83-60 loss at Northwestern. Amir Coffey, a 6’8” forward who is averaging 14.1 points per game and is shooting 37% from 3, has also missed the last two games due to a shoulder injury. He is also probably out tomorrow.
Without Lynch and Coffey the Gophers are missing 24 points and 14 rebounds from their usual production. Obviously, this is good news for Purdue, but we cannot take anything for granted. The last six games with Minnesota have been decided by 3, 3, 4, 4, 4, and 9 points with four total overtimes in there. Each team has won three games.
Jordan Murphy and Nate Mason have both been playing all-Big Ten caliber basketball. Murphy is an automatic double-double at 18.3 points and 12.1 rebounds per game. He is second in the conference in scoring and first in rebounding even at only 6’6”. Mason was also amazing last year in the win over Purdue. He had a season high 31 points, 11 assists, and 6 rebounds while shooting 11 of 18 from the floor.
Dupree McBrayer has been playing really well of late for the Gophers in a larger role. The 6’5” junior averages 9.9 points per game, but since returning from injury he has had 15, 12, 18, and 14.
Minnesota has had one of the best offenses in the league. They are third in scoring at 82.6 per game, behind only Michigan State and Purdue. They are 11th defensively at 70.6 per game. Where they will really test Purdue is on the glass. They trail only Michigan State in rebounding and they average 13.6 offensive rebounds per game. They are not a team that relies on the three as much as Purdue, but without Lynch and Coffey they may have to.
That is really the difference here. If the Gophers had Coffey and Lynch they would likely be favored in this game. We only have a small sample size since they have played just two games without them, but Minnesota has not looked good. Indiana, too, was shorthanded and pulled off a four point win just a few days after looking completely uninterested in the game of basketball at Wisconsin. The Hoosiers shot only 40% from the floor, but grabbed 17 offensive rebounds to Minnesota’s 8. Mason, Murphy, and McBrayer combined for 58 points, but Minnesota got little else.
Against Northwestern on Wednesday the Gophers shot 31% from the floor and grabbed only 6 offensive rebounds. Overall they were outrebounded 45-26 by one of the worst rebounding teams in the conference (Northwestern is 13th in rebounding margin). McBrayer was the only one in double figures with 14 points.
It really looks like Minnesota’s season is on the brink of disaster. That makes this a worrisome game because they need a boost, like defeating the No. 5 team in America, to revive their season goals. This feels like a game that Purdue either completely dominates or Minnesota picks itself up and plays to its full potential. There are clearly a lot of distractions going on in Minneapolis, but this is a dangerous team. Even though they are not at full strength Purdue cannot take them lightly. Purdue 82, Minnesota 74