If you are looking for unbiased sports analysis, then you may as well stop reading this now. Simply put in euphemistic terms, I cannot stand the Ohio State women's basketball team. Or their recruit-stealing head coach. Of course I wouldn't like a tiddly winks team if it came from Ohio State. Put one more way, I like them about as much as die-hard Purdue men's basketball fans like IU.
Ohio State acts like they own Big Ten women's basketball. However, when was the last time they made it to the Final Four, Elite Eight, or Sweet Sixteen? How many national championship games have they won or played in? How about Big Ten tournament championships? Fuhgettabout it. You may say, it has been a while since Purdue accomplished any of those things. True enough. I am just making a point that the Buckeyes don't "own" the Big Ten conference.
OK, I know that Kelsey Mitchell is a scoring machine. She put up 31 points as a freshman in Mackey last year, in the SECOND HALF. However that was last season. This season, they have lost three games to the top 3 ranked teams in the country. They won at Maryland, something that seemed almost impossible. But then they lost last Thursday at Northwestern to a team we dominated on their own floor. So lo and behold they are human after all. Unfortunately, for you math people out there, the transitive property does not apply to sports.
On the surface this looks like a matchup nightmare for our Boilermakers. Mitchell and Alston do make up an impressive backcourt. Alexa Hart and Shayla Cooper are both forces down low. Asia Doss is an up and coming star. They have a lot of weapons off of the bench. I just watched a short interview with their coach Kevin McGuff, and he said they have the best backcourt in women's college basketball. Whatever. Mitchell and Alston are both on the Wooden watch list. Purdue has no one on the list. But not so fast my friends.
Purdue has a better defense. Purdue has the best defense in the Big Ten. If I were Wilson and Morrissette, I would have a 2 person meeting and tell each other, you know what, I am sick and tired of hearing about their awesome backcourt. Let's go to Columbus and do something about it. Of course our backcourt will more than have their hands full. So will our post players. We will need for our 3 centers and McBryde to get down low and play their best game of the season just to keep the game relatively close.
On the other hand, Purdue does have some things going for us. First of all we are not intimidated by Ohio State. Second, our team and coaches should have watched plenty of game film from the Ohio State loss at Northwestern on Thursday. Third, Purdue has Andreona Keys to stick to Mitchell like a glove. With some help obviously. But it is not a given that Mitchell will completely go off and score in the 30's. Fourth, McBryde and Perry have become quite the tandem at the forward or combo forward position. We can expect those two to give the Buckeyes some match up problems of their own. Based on these observations I am not predicting that Purdue will get blown out in Columbus.
There is the rub. This is in Columbus. Need I even say it that we will not get a single break in this game. From you know who. Also, the Buckeyes will be very motivated after the sting of the Northwestern loss. While I do expect their players to underestimate our team, I don't expect the same from their coaching staff. So I imagine their coaches are telling their players that this is far from a gimme.
I won't go into much in comparing stats, as the reader can look those up in the preview at our team's official website. One thing that did stand out to me, though, was that their stats look very similar to ours. Both teams also have almost identical point margins so far this season, at around 13.
This game will be televised on BTN. Thank God for that, as BTN Plus has been the pits for most of this basketball season. At least we will be watching a professionally televised game. I am hoping that more of our fans will at least watch the game on TV.
As for predictions, I think these teams match up probably closer than most of the pundits would admit to. I like the grit of our team this year. We may not have quite the number of high ranking recruits, but other than a few lapses on either side of the ball, for the most part our Boilers have played hard for all 40 minutes of each game this season. This Sunday will be no different. Once again the vaunted Purdue defense will be challenged by an offensive juggernaut. Let's hope our defense can play lights out in this game.
Yes on paper this looks like a sure Ohio State win. And at their place it probably will be. However, Purdue will give them a run for their money, so if you can, try and tune in. It should be a very competitive and entertaining game. Purdue can play the no respect card. We are undefeated in sole first place in a power 5 conference, and we have not been ranked yet? Well, here is our chance to get ranked. Actually we should be ranked even if we lose this game. But we will surely be ranked if we pull off the upset.
After all of that diatribe, I just cannot predict a win for Purdue. This is in Columbus, and they will be super motivated to get back on track after losing at Northwestern. The home court advantage will be huge. Purdue will give it their best shot, which is better than anyone would have predicted coming into this season. However, the Buckeyes have less injury issues and a deeper bench. The Boilers will need to try and at least limit Mitchell to something below her season average. And not sleep on Alston, who sometimes gets overlooked in the Mitchell love fest with BTN and ESPN. It seems like Alston is in her 6th season or something, but for sure she has a ton of experience and she can light it up from anywhere on the court if their opponents put too much emphasis on Mitchell.
Prediction: Ohio State 68 - Purdue 60.