There is going to be no non-conference opponents’ update this week. That is mostly because it is a futile exercise. We know what Purdue needs to do, it just needs to do it. Right now there are three options left in the season:
Win the remaining three regular seasons games – That gets you to 17-14, 10-10 and squarely on the Bubble to make it into the NCAA Tournament, but likely on the good side where you get a play-in game in Dayton to make the real tournament. Because of the damage Purdue has already done it does not necessarily mean we’re out of the Wednesday games in Indianapolis, either. That can be both a blessing and a curse. It can be a blessing because it can add a relatively easy win to our total just for sheer volume, but a curse because a loss on Wednesday (and lets face it, we can lose on Wednesday) means it is over. Even at 17-14 it would be a very, very good idea to win any Thursday game in Indy because it would likely be an additional quad one win. I still think getting to 18 wins (or 19 if we have to play on Wednesday) would be just barely enough, but we have dug ourselves this hole.
Win two of the remaining three games – For pretty much any postseason play this needs to happen. Purdue would then be 16-15 overall and 9-11. It would also probably be playing on Wednesday depending on other results and tiebreakers. 16-15 clinches, at worst, a .500 overall record and would almost certainly land Purdue in the NIT. If (and it is a very big if) Purdue avoids Wednesday then wins three games in Indy to reach the final then maaaaaaaaybe it is back on the Bubble at 19-15 before the title game, but at that point just win the auto bid.
Win one or zero of the remaining three games – Your worst-case scenario. It means Purdue goes to Indy either on a seven-game losing streak or having lost 6 of 7. It would have us at 15-16 or 14-17 as well and virtually zero chance of making the tournament without the autobid (and we’re not winning five games in five days to steal it). You’re then definitely playing on Wednesday and at 15-16, you need two wins just to reach .500 overall once we’re eliminated in Indy. As of 2007 you can make the NIT with an under .500 record, but no such team has been invited yet. Purdue could test that theory, but it is unlikely and really, would you even want to?
And no, we should not play in the CBI. That tournament is an abomination for a Power 5 program.
So that is where we stand. Winning the next three would likely give us three straight wins over NCAA teams as Indiana has played its way in (but could potentially play its way back out if it loses three of its last four), Iowa is definitely in, and Rutgers is looking pretty good. Two of them are at home, which helps. Given the way Purdue has looked in consecutive home games (our first consecutive home losses since losing to Northwestern and Michigan in 2013-14) I have zero confidence we will definitely win even one of them.
You just have to take it one game at a time (even if it is a cliché). Right now we can only face Indiana, and beating Indiana at least keeps us barely alive because a loss would almost certainly end any at large hopes. Beat Indiana, then it is a matter of staying alive against Iowa.
From: Bloomington, IN
Date: Thursday, February 27, 2020
Tip Time: 7pm
TV: Fox Sports 1
Radio: Purdue Radio Network
SiriusXM Satellite: XM (Ch. 381); Internet (Ch. 968)
Live Stats: bit.ly/PurdueLiveStats
Odds: No Line Yet
2018-19 Record: 19-16, 8-12 Big Ten (lost to Wichita State in NIT Third Round)
2019-20 Record: 18-9, 8-8 Big Ten
Opponent Blog: Crimson Quarry
Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 121-89
Last Indiana Win: 77-73 at Indiana on 2/20/2016
Last Purdue Win: 74-62 at Indiana on 2/8/2020
NCAA Tournament History: 43 appearances, last in 2016. 5-time NCAA Champion
Coach: Archie Miller (53-40 in third season at Indiana, 192-103 overall)
If Purdue comes out and plays like it did against Michigan it will lose and the lengthy winning streak against the Hoosiers will be over. Saturday was an embarrassing effort in a game Purdue really, really, REALLY needed to win. Yes, Purdue kept it somewhat close early, but the 15-4 run by the Wolverines right before halftime broke this team. For a second consecutive game Purdue was down double digits at home. Now we have four home losses this season alone after having just four home losses total in the previous four seasons. I was fine with losing to a good team like Michigan, but to lose in that fashion was embarrassing.
Now we get our bitter rivals in Indiana. Just two weeks ago the teams were on opposite ends of the spectrum (making me look like an idiot for writing this). They have won three of four since our win in Bloomington and are currently on the right side of the Bubble. As long as they win their home games they are probably safe, but winning at Purdue (ending our hopes in the process) would almost certainly lock them up.
Indiana has gotten it done in a variety of ways. Against Iowa they figured out their offensive woes (as many teams do against Iowa) by scoring 89 points and getting 27 from Devonte Green. Against Penn State and Minnesota in wins they played solid defense, holding their opponents to 60 or less. Trayce Jackson-Davis was excellent against Minnesota with 27 points and 16 rebounds, while he had a 13 and 10 against Penn State.
Purdue won the first game because of its incredible balance, a balance it has not even come close to having since. No Purdue player had more than the 12 Eric Hunter Jr. had among the nine rotation players, but no one had fewer than five. Combined with solid defense (Jackson-Davis had a 16-8-4 because he will be the best player on the floor again), Purdue won going away.
The good news is that we will know early if we have a shot, like almost every Purdue game this season. When Purdue has won it has hit shots early, looked sharp offensively with its ball movement, and has gotten stops to build an early lead. We know it is capable of doing this. We saw it in first half efforts against Virginia, Michigan State, Iowa, and at Indiana. Conversely, if the offense is missing shots and turning it over like against Illinois, Penn State, Ohio State, and Michigan, we’re done.
Purdue’s perimeter defense also needs to get back to where it used to be. For much of the season Purdue had the best 3-point defense in the league. Since Indiana went 7 of 21 against us we have seen that perimeter defense absolutely collapse. Penn State bombed away, hitting 10 first half threes in going 14 of 26. Ohio State went 9 of 20 for 45%. Wisconsin was 12 of 31, but missed a lot of late threes to at least give us a chance late. Michigan was 6 of 25, but they hit three in a row in that 15-4 run.
Honestly, forget about this NCAAs at this point. This game is about pride. It doesn’t matter if we’re playing Indiana or Indiana-Purdue-Indianapolis. Right now Purdue needs to come out and just play with some intensity and show consistent effort at both ends of the floor. The last four losses are frustrating, but they are made more frustrating by the nature of them. Coach Painter called it out in the loss to Michigan.
If Purdue cannot come out and play with pride and effort against Indiana at home, especially after winning in Bloomington, this team truly is done and you might as well not even show up for the final games.