Wednesday night was a missed opportunity, much like the Charleston final vs. Virginia Tech. Purdue has shown a lot of promise this year, but against its best opponents it has been unable to close the deal. The Florida State loss hurts a little more, mostly because of turnovers, missed free throws, and the cold stretch in the last 8 minutes that led to the loss. in the 8-4 minute stretch of hte second half Florida State was giving Purdue plenty of opportunities with missed shots and turnovers of its own, but the Boilers matched them empty trip for empty trip. When Evan Boudreaux finally scored on an and-1 just before hte last media timeout we were finally able to push the lead to 8.
We wouldn’t score again.
As you know, Carsen Edwards missed two free throws, we had a few turnovers, we didn’t get a key foul call late (though Carsen foolishly dripped right into a trap, even though it looked like he was dribbling right towards Painter for a timeout). Ryan Cline got tied up, and that was that. The result was a painful 1-point loss that will be a huge empty spot on our March resume.
The good news is that this coming game represents another opportunity. Yes, Michigan is a daunting foe. They have been one of the best teams in the country to start the season. There is no question this will be tougher than Wednesday night. We’re still playing the game, however. We still have a chance. We have the tools to pull off a surprise. Purdue lost by a point at a very good Florida State team and it took a ton of mistakes, an awful 16 minutes in the first half, and awful final three minutes for it to happen. We have seent hat when we’re on, we can be really good like in stretch against the Hokies and Seminoles.
If we put it all together we can win this, and it carries the bonus of a 1-0 Big Ten record.
Arena: Crisler Center (13,751)
Date: December 1, 2018, 3:30pm ET
Radio: Purdue Radio Network
SiriusXM Satellite: XM (Ch. 381); Internet (Ch. 968)
Live Stats: bit.ly/PurdueLiveStats
Odds: No Line Yet
2017-18 Record: 33-8, 13-5 Big Ten (Lost to Villanova in NCAA Championship 79-62
2018-19 Record: 7-0, 0-0 Big Ten
Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 88-70
Last Michigan Win: 75-66 in Big Ten Tournament at New York on 3/4/2018
Last Purdue Win: 92-88 at Purdue on 1/25/2018
NCAA Tournament History: 28 Appearances, last in 2017. 1989 NCAA Champion
Coach: John Beilein (255-143 in 12th season at Michigan, 731-418 overall)
Michigan has been nothing less than great so far. They crushed defending champion Villanova on its hom floor by 27 points. Wednesday night they beat a top 15 North Carolina team by 17. They have been the best defensive team in the country in giving up just 51 points per game. That will challenge Purdue’s 83.4 points per game offense. Jon Teske is an eraser at the basket with 2.4 blocks per game. Zavier Simpson (a former Purdue target) has been a lockdown defender on the perimeter as well. They play great team defense and on their home floor that will be tough to overcome.
Offensively, the Wolverines are led by 6’7” freshman Ignas Brazdeikis. He is averaging an impressive 16.9 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. He shoots nearly 55% from the floor and 39% from three. Opponents have struggled to slow him down, so I’d imagine we’ll throw Nojel Eastern at him.
Senior Charles Matthews is also playing the best basketball of his career. He averages 15.4 points per game and 4.4 rebounds. He had 14, 10, and 8 in the three games against Purdue last season. Jordan Poole is the third leading scorer at 10.1 points per game. Isaiah Livers, Teske, Eli Brooks, and Simpson round out the primary rotation. That could be an advantage for Purdue. We have a slightly deeper rotation, so we need to push that advantage.
It wouldn’t be a John Beilein team if everyone wasn’t able to shoot threes, and that is the case. MIchigan shoots 35% from long range, but htey have some excellent shooters individually. Livers has been red hot at 57.1% from long range. Poole is shooting a little over 40%. Of course, everyone is capable of hitting from long range. They are going to do what they ahve done for years: spread the floor with everyone and open up for the drive and kick. Purdue has been vulnerable to this against them for years, but we no longer have the large center anchoring the middle as a defensive liability. That may help a little.
Michigan is only averaging 73 points per game as a team. If we can turn up our on defensive pressure that will help a lot. The truth is though, we cannot have turnovers and breakdowns like Wednesday night. A prime example was late when Nojel Eastern simply dribbled the ball off his shin. Purdue was leading by 6 with 3 minutes left and Eastern wasn’t pressured at all. He simply dribbled off his own leg and Florida State got a crucial M.J. Walker three after it.
We cannot have lapses like that. We’re facing an even better defensive team that will challenge us even more. Carsen needs to play within himself and can’t have some of the silly passes he had, either. We’re going to need a vintage Carsen game where he is far more efficient. Yes, he had 24 points, but it took 19 shots and he had 8 turnovers. That won’t fly.
This should be an interesting game. If the Boilers can come away with a victory it softens the blow of Wednesday and probably keeps us in the top 25. It would also be huge for March. We can’t have the lapses and mistakes we had on Wednesday, however.