Who: Purdue (21-6) at MichiganÂ (17-11)
Where: Crisler Arena, Ann Arbor, MI
When: Thursday, Feb 26th, 9 PM ET
Spread: Purdue by 2.5
Preview: Stat Sheet, U-M KenPom Profile, Purdue KenPom Profile
Radio: MGoBlue, WWJ-AM (950), WTKA-AM (1050)
Last Time: Preview / Recap
The event that stands out from the first matchup is Manny Harris’ elbow connecting with Chris Kramer’s face. Manny was ejected and Purdue closed the game on a 39-21 run. It is a little more reassuring to look at the first 20 minutes when Michigan actually took a lead into the locker room at halftime. The fact that Michigan had the lead despite not shooting particularly well and without a remarkable performance from Manny Harris should give fans a little hope.
So what should we expect in round two? To start with, both of these teams have a lot to play for. Purdue is a game behind Michigan State in the conference title race and Michigan is trying to keep their NCAA dreams alive. In terms of atmosphere, the game is sold out for senior night but its spring break so I wouldn’t expect many students.
Purdue is the best defensive team in the Big Ten, defense is what they stress and they do a damn good job of it. The Boilermakers allow only .92 points per possession in conference play, .84 for the season (third in the country). The Boilers also hold their opponents to a stone cold 42.5% eFG% (3rd nationally) while still forcing plenty of turnovers and keeping their opponents off the free throw line. There isn’t really anything that Purdue doesn’t do well on the defensive side of the ball and that is scary if you’re a Michigan fan.
Purdue’s offensive falls more in the middle of the road. The Purdue offense has been slightly inconsistent due to Robbie Hummel’s injury problems but they still have some pieces. The Boilers are a decent shooting team and do a good job holding onto the ball. The areas where they are a bit underwhelming are the offensive glass and getting to the free throw line.
JaJuan Johnson has turned into a monster in conference play; he is averaging 14.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg, and 2.6 bpg in conference play. Johnson didn’t necessarily dominate in the first matchup but I would expect Purdue to try to establish JJ early and often. Robbie Hummel has been bothered by injuries all year and his numbers show it: 8.9 ppg and 5.7 rpg while shooting 35.7% from long range (down from 47.6% last year) . Even when Hummel is not his normal self he still makes Purdue a much better team; they seem to be more comfortable with him on the offensive end and he always seems to make the big shot.
In the backcourt the Boilers have Chris Kramer, Lewis Jackson, E’twaun Moore, and Keaton Grant. Moore is coming off of a 26 point (10 of 14, 5-6 3pt) effort against Indiana. Keaton Grant has struggled a bit this year, he’s hitting only 34% from three point range after hitting 43% last year. Lewis Jackson is a small point guard who was out in the first matchup with a concussion. And of course Chris Kramer is one of the best defensive players in the conference.
It’s senior night in Ann Arbor and it will be CJ Lee, David Merritt, and Jevohn Shepherd’s last home game in the Maize and Blue. Festivities typically take place a little bit before tip off so I would recommend getting there early. These three kids have all taken their fair share of criticism throughout their careers but there is no denying that they gave their all for the university and the program. Shepherd never quite realized the potential that everyone saw in him but he was always ready to go as a defensive substitution or a spot starter. Merritt tried out time and time again before finally making the team, by the time he was done he was a captain and started several games. CJ Lee, I love this kid because he has the smarts, the hustle, and the grit and while he might not be the most talented he always gives his all.
This one is pretty much all or nothing. A win would keep Michigan’s tourney hopes alive and a loss would pretty much be the end of Michigan’s already dwindling chances barring a miracle in Indianapolis. Does this team have enough left in the tank for one more run?
Pomeroy doesn’t like Michigan’s chances, he gives Michigan a 33% chance to win this one and predicts a three point Purdue win. Don’t bother looking for hope down the road because Pomeroy gives Michigan a 25% chance or worse to win each of the next two as well. Vegas likes Purdue by a very similar 2.5 points, let’s hear your predictions and in-game discussion in the comments.