By the time Purdue tips off tonight it will have not played basketball for four straight days. In what has been a breakneck pace of a season that feels like a ridiculous amount of time off. As fans, we have had four days to stew on two straight losses. That’s four days to go back and forth between “we blew it” and “we were bound to lose something eventually and look what it took for it to happen.” We’ve had four days to think about how unfair it could be that Purdue goes 16-2, but for the first time ever that record may not be good enough to win at least a share of the Big Ten because of the unbalanced schedule and Ohio State coming out of nowhere.
Yes, it has been a frustrating four days. I am hoping our guys vent against an opponent that appears to be one of many dead teams walking in the Big Ten.
From: Madison, Wisconsin
Date: Thursday, February 15, 2018
Tip Time: 7 p.m. ET
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Arena: Kohl Center (17,230)
Radio: Purdue Radio Network
SiriusXM Satellite: XM (Ch. 381); Internet (Ch. 968)
Live Stats: bit.ly/PurdueLiveStats
2016-17 Record: 27-10, 12-6 Big Ten (lost to Florida 84-83 in NCAA Sweet 16)
2017-18 Record: 11-16, 4-10 Big Ten
Opponent Blog: Bucky’s 5th Quarter
Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 109-69
Last Wisconsin Win: 71-51 on 3/14/2015 in Big Ten Tournament at Chicago
Last Purdue Win: 78-50 on 1/16/2018 at Purdue
NCAA Tournament History: 23 appearances, last in 2017, 1941 NCAA Champion
Coach: Greg Gard (53-34 in 3rd Season)
On January 2nd Wisconsin was 9-7 overall and 2-1 in the Big Ten after beating Indiana in Madison. It was their 5th straight win and it looked as if the Badgers might be turning a corner after a slow start.
Three days later they lost at Rutgers. They are just 2-8 since, only beating last place Illinois twice, and this will go down as the worst basketball season in Madison of the last two decades. Barring a miracle run through the Big Ten Tournament (where they may have to win five games in five days) Wisconsin will miss the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1998. For a school that has been the class of the Big Ten for much of the last 20 years (and one that came damn close to winning a national title just 3 years ago) it is odd to see them here.
A large reason is that there has been virtually nothing from any player not named Ethan Happ. Happ is third in the Big Ten in scoring at 18.2 points per game and 4th in rebounding at 8.3 per game. He is the lone bright spot. Brad Davison averages 11.3 points per game, but when your No. 3 scorer by average (D’Mitrik trice) has not played since December 6th you have a problem.
Wisconsin ranks 13th in the conference in scoring at 67.6 points per game compared to Purdue’s 83.1. They are last in scoring margin and in field goal % defense. Their guard play has been generally terrible. We saw that in the first game when Purdue jumped out to a 23-4 lead in the first 10 minutes and never looked back. We hit our first four three-point attempts and it was 12-0 before anyone was really settled in. The 78-50 final was mostly the result of Purdue letting off the gas.
What will be interesting about this game is that Wisconsin sold out to stop Isaac Haas and he scored just two points. Purdue ended up hitting 14 of 22 from three and it was basically the complete opposite of what we have seen of late offensively. We even limited Happ to 15 points on 16 field goal attempts.
It is pretty clear Purdue needs to get its shooting back on track and move past some of its offensive lulls. Defensively, Purdue was fine against Ohio State and Michigan State. Scoring just 10 points in the final 11 minutes of each game (with only 2 made field goals in the final 11 minutes against Ohio State) was the real problem.
I would say Purdue should not be challenged, but we saw what happened in a rematch after a big home win when we played Rutgers in Piscataway. The Scarlet Knights turned a 31 point drubbing into a narrow 2-point loss. The thing is, Rutgers is probably better than Wisconsin. It is sad to say that.
The truth is that if Purdue is good it wins this game easily. If we struggle it is definitely time to panic. Purdue 85, Wisconsin 60