It is time to start over.
The first third of the season is over and while Purdue was competitive, we whiffed on all four chances to get a good non-conference win. Sure, Davidson and Belmont will be semi-decent, but not anywhere near as good as Florida State, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, or Texas. Nothing can be done about those now, and they at least fall in the realm of “good losses”
Thursday night Purdue basketball will start over. We have a lot to figure out and really only two games to do so. It is non-negotiable that we need to beat Ohio and Belmont (who is receiving AP Poll votes after winning at UCLA) to have any chance at making the NCAA Tournament. Our overall schedule strength and the strength of the Big Ten give us a fallback to make the tournament, but the margin for error is smaller. I figure we will need 13 conference wins to feel even close to safe. That would put us at 21-10 going into the Big Ten Tournament, and given that seven Big Ten teams are currently in the top 25 (plus Maryland, Purdue, and Minnesota receiving votes) getting to 13 wins virtually guarantees multiple top 25 wins.
As I said yesterday, we’re close. We’re not getting dominated. We’re a team with flaws and pieces that don’t quite fit together, but all is not lost. The good news is that if we do figure things out and if Carsen Edwards returns for his senior season we should be pretty good next year with most everything returning.
It all starts over Thursday night vs. Ohio.
From: Athens, Ohio
Date: Thursday, December 20, 2018
Tip Time: 7PM ET
Location: West Lafayette, Indiana
Arena: Mackey Arena (14,804)
Radio: Purdue Radio Network
SiriusXM Satellite: XM (Ch. 381); Internet (Ch. 968)
Live Stats: bit.ly/PurdueLiveStats
Odds: No Line Yet
2017-18 Record: 14-17, 7-11 MAC East
2018-19 Record: 7-3, 0-0 MAC East
Opponent Blog: Hustle Belt
Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 4-2
Last Ohio Win: 80-79 at Ohio on 12/6/1969
Last Purdue Win: 100-89 at Purdue on 12/14/1968
NCAA Tournament History: 13 appearances, last in 2012. 1964 Elite Eight
Coach: Saul Phillips (74-63 in 5th year at Ohio, 208-146 overall)
Because it seems all things with our non-conference schedule intersect Radford without playing Radford, Ohio has, of course, played Radford. They beat them 78-69 last week, and Radford has famously won at Notre Dame and Texas. That is probably Ohio’s best win, and they have lost to South Florida, Loyola Marymount, and Xavier. This is the first time we have played Ohio since the Bobcats upset Rick Mount and No. 3 Purdue over 49 years ago.
The Bobcats have a trio of players averaging in double figures. Jason Carter, a 6’8” forward, is an impressive sophomore averaging 19.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. He is more of an old school power forward near the basket, but he can step out and shoot the three. Think John Mooney from Saturday who only had 8 made threes coming in and he hit all three he attempted.
Sophomore Teyvion Kirk averages 15.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 3.4 as a dynamic guard. Ben Vander Plas, a 6’8” freshman, is the third player in double figures at 11 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. He actually takes (and makes) more threes than Kirk and Carter. As a team Ohio is at 28.6% from there, but that meant very little in the last two games as Notre Dame and Texas were similar.
Doug Taylor, a 6’9” senior, rounds out their big frontcourt. He averages 8.4 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. This is a very strong rebounding team at 42 per game. They only shoot 45% from the floor, but they make up for it by rebounding well, especially Taylor. He gets nearly four offensive rebounds per game.
This is not an opponent Purdue can take for granted in any way. That’s why it is a good test. They aren’t as good as the top teams we have played, but they are not a team we can just sleepwalk past like a Chicago State.
What I will be interested to see is if there are any lineup shakeups from coach Painter. We almost certainly need to flip Aaron Wheeler and Grady Eifert for each other in terms of starting and minutes. Did Trevion Williams earn a start over Matt Haarms? A simple lineup shakeup like those two moves could be just what we need. A Carsen-Cline-Nojel-Wheeler-Williams lineup could be our most effective.
Still, Purdue should win. If we don’t there are major issues that are unlikely to be solved this year.