We all know the numbers now: 8 in a row and 11 of 12. Since the dawn of the 2013-14 season Purdue has been absolutely dominant against our rivals to the South. The Boilers have not lost in West Lafayette since the unmerciful 97-60 loss in 2013 and have now even won five in a row in Bloomington, something no one ever does to Indiana. In my lifetime things have never been so sustained positively in our favor and so negatively in Indiana’s favor.
Things can, and often do, change. By all indications Indiana looks like a broken team right now at 12-13, clinging to its pair of wins over Iowa like a slowly deflating life preserver for their NCAA chances. They have lost four in a row and have looked more disjointed with each game.
It is still a rivalry though, and someday Indiana will beat Purdue again.
From: Bloomington, IN
Date: Saturday, March 6, 2021
Tip Time: 2pm
Location: West Lafayette, Indiana
Arena: Mackey Arena (14,804)
Radio: Boilermaker Sports Network
Live Stats: bit.ly/PurdueLiveStats
Odds: No Line Yet
2019-20 Record: 20-12, 9-11 Big Ten
2017-18 Record: 12-13, 7-11 Big Ten
Opponent Blog: Crimson Quarry
Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 123-89
Last Indiana Win: 77-73 at Indiana on 2/20/2016
Last Purdue Win: 81-69 at Indiana on 1/14/2021
NCAA Tournament History: 5-time NCAA Champion (1940, 1953, 1976, 1981, 1987). 43 appearances, last in 2016
Coach: Archie Miller (67-56 in 4th season at Indiana, 206-119 overall)
It is safe to say things are not going well in Archie Miller’s 4th year. Yes, the Hoosiers probably would have squeezed into last season’s NCAA Tournament had it been played, but you have to go back to the 1968 through 1972 seasons to find a five year gap between NCAA appearances. This is for one of the most storied programs in college basketball history, but they are learning that it is not a birthright. One need only look at USC baseball to see things can change quickly. The Trojans have won 12 national championships and were regulars in Omaha until 2002. Since then they have made the NCAA Tournament twice.
While Indiana is not THAT bad, it can be somewhat of a cautionary tale that once a blueblood is not necessarily always a blueblood. Since we last saw the Hoosiers they have fallen well off the NCAA pace. They have gone 4-7 with a pair of really good wins over Iowa, a home win over fading Minnesota, and a very narrow double overtime escape at Northwestern.
To be honest, Indiana reminds me of Purdue last year. The records are similar. They don’t have as wild swings between really good (think Purdue blowing the doors off of Virginia, Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Iowa last year) and really bad (think last year at Illinois), but the definite trend has been to fade late. They have lost three overtime games (at Florida State, at Wisconsin, and home vs. Illinois) where a different possession or two gives them three more wins and they are solidly in the field. That was Purdue last year at Michigan, against Florida State, and home against Rutgers.
Over the last few weeks this team has looked disjointed at best. Armaan Franklin, their best guard and No. 2 scorer, has been out the last two games and if he plays against Purdue, will be limited. Trayce Jackson-Davis, one of the best players in the conference, inexplicably took only five shots at Michigan State on Tuesday as Indiana chose instead to rely on streaky Rob Phinisee, who went 6 of 16. Jackson-Davis had 34 points at the Spartans in their first meeting so maybe, just maybe, it would have been a good idea to get him more than 5 shots in a six point loss in a game they absolutely had to win. That usage rate is an absolute crime against basketball.
Against the Spartans Al Durham also struggled, going 0 for 7 and scoring on three points when he averages in double digits. Race Thompson has been playing well of late and had 13 against Purdue in game 1, but he may also be out. Indiana’s struggles all year have been related to poor guard play. All too often shots have just not been falling on the perimeter, and the excellence of TJD inside can only do so much. The Rutgers game was one where you almost saw Indiana visibly quit on defense, as the Scarlet Knights were practically running a layup and dunk line in the final 10 minutes.
That was the case in game 1. Purdue came out white hot from three and finished 11 of 17 from long range. Indiana was a paltry 3 of 18. Jackson-Davis had 25, Thompson had 13, and Franklin played well with 14 (but was 0 of 5 from three), but the Hoosiers got little to nothing from everyone else. Now Franklin might be out.
With Franklin out Durham becomes their most important player in this game. Surely Archie is not dumb enough to have TJD only shoot five times again. Durham can get hot from three (he was 5 of 7 against Rutgers last week) and hit some big shots to save them in the Northwestern game. In game 1 he had 4 points against Purdue.
This game really comes down to how broken Indiana is. It is a rivalry. Their NCAA chances are hanging by a thread. They don’t have to worry about 14,000+ pro-Purdue denizens making Mackey a living hell for 40 minutes on them. If they can’t get up for this game then there are some serious issues in their locker room that need to be resolved. TJD is too good of a player to be that limited again (though he was inexplicably 2 of 7 for 6 points last year in Mackey, and this was after 3 points and an assist in the first four minutes), but the Hoosiers have to get a big game out of Durham and/or Phinisee.
It is still Indiana though, and I will always be wary because of that. They have more than enough talent to beat Purdue, especially if the threes aren’t falling for us.