Game 13: Purdue at Michigan Preview

Dylan Burkhardt
Who: Purdue (11-1) at Michigan (10-2) purdue-logo
Where: Crisler Arena, Ann Arbor, MI
When: Tuesday, December 28th, 2PM ET
Radio: MGoBlue / WTKA 1050 AM
John Beilein Presser / Player Video Interviews

Michigan’s recent games versus Purdue have been memorable for some very different reasons. The frustration of playing in West Lafayette the last two years was magnified by a Manny Harris ejection and suspension. However, John Beilein’s best Big Ten win was over the Boilermakers in 2009. That game might not be as memorable as Michigan’s win over Duke, with the students away on spring break, but it was one of the best wins on Michigan’s NCAA tournament resume. It was also the best offensive performance from any team against Purdue over the last three and a half years. Today’s game might lack the star power of the Michigan side of the ledger but it is a great opportunity for a young Michigan team to make an early statement.


It’s tough to figure out what to make of this Purdue team. The loss of Robbie Hummel was crippling, as Hummel was a likely Big Ten Player of the Year candidate. Without Hummel, the Boilermakers remind me of a more efficient version of last year’s Michigan team. JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore are two of the top players in the country but they combine to take 60% of Purdue’s shots when they are on the floor – the same proportion that Harris and Sims took last season. The duo averages a combined 39 points per game which accounts for over half of Purdue’s offensive output.

Johnson and Moore are All-American candidates but the question is who can provide them with help offensively. John Hart, the Boilers third leading scorer, remains sidelined with a stress fracture in his foot. The main candidates for secondary scorers include DJ Byrd, Kelsey Barlow, Terone Johnson, Lewis Jackson, and Ryne Smith, five players that all average between 4 and 6 points per game. Barlow is a lock down defender and a great athlete but an average offensive player. Byrd (37%) and Smith (40%) are capable three point shooters but they don’t provide much else as 73% of their field goal attempts are from three point range. Freshman guard Terone Johnson was a heralded recruit but has an effective field goal percentage of just 36%. Jackson is an able set-up man but still turns the ball over too often despite being one of the more experienced players in Purdue’s rotation. If you want to stop Purdue’s offense you have to do everything that you can to stop Moore and Johnson and hope that the surrounding cast can’t get it done. It should come as no surprise that those two were a combined 8 of 28 (29%) in Purdue’s loss to Richmond.

Kelsey Barlow, Lewis Jackson, and Terone Johnson

The problem is that even if you can slow down Purdue’s offense, it’s near impossible to score on the Boiler defense. Ken Pomeroy ranked Purdue’s defense 5th in 2009, 3rd in 2010, and now has the at number 3 in 2011. Only one team has topped the 1.00 point per possession mark this year – Richmond with 1.01 points per trip — and the recipe for defensive success is the same as its ever been for Matt Painter. Purdue forces their opponents to turn the ball over on 25% of their possessions, that’s once every four trips up the court. Purdue’s opponents have just a 41.7% effective field goal percentage and the Boilers have the 4th best three point defense in the country at 27%. How Michigan’s offense, which revolves around the three point shot and has struggled versus pressure defenses this season, can score enough points to win is anyone’s guess.

The first step to beating Purdue’s defense is valuing the basketball. Michigan has been great in the turnover department under John Beilein and they have been solid once again this year. On the other hand, Purdue is the best defense that Michigan has faced and it’s hard to forget the UTEP debacle where Michigan was barely able to get into their offensive sets versus the Miner’s pressure defense. Dealing with the pressure is one thing but hitting some shots is another. When Michigan’s offense was successful versus the Boilers it was because DeShawn Sims and Manny Harris had career nights.To be successful this year, Michigan is going to have to run their offense beyond just isolation plays. Hitting a few early threes would go a long ways toward opening the offense up for backdoor cuts and more flexibility.

Pomeroy gives Michigan a 32% chance of victory a predicts Purdue to win by a score of 61-58 in a 63 possession game. I’ll shy away from a score prediction but here are three more specific thoughts:

  • The team that breaks 1 point per possession wins – points will be at a premium.
  • Michigan manages to slow down one of Purdue’s big two but the other scores over 20 points on 50%+ shooting.
  • Zack Novak has his best three point shooting game of the season and first where he makes 3 or more three pointers.
  • Pingback: Big 10 Hoops: A Tasty Doubleheader (Purdue/Michigan, Minnesota/Wisconsin) | Just Cover()

  • solid preview. This is why you’re one of the best. Stop by the H&R Open Thread this afternoon.

  • JT

    Nice rundown Dylan!

    Big game today. Hopefully we can off to a good start. Not sure what the crowd will be like for a 2pm game on a Tuesday. What the heck, UM 64, PU 62. Have we been 1-0 in league play under JB?? It’s time!

    GO BLUE!!

    • UMQuasi

      Well, there are only single tickets available, so it looks like the crowd will be large. Of course, the students are out of town so that crowd could be made up of alums sitting on their hands and Purdue students making the trip during their break, so we’ll see.

  • JDiesel

    Avoid follower of the blog for a couple of years. Always good stuff. I feel like today is the day when certain expectations will truly be defined (big dance vs NIT). Unfortunately, will not be at the game to represent. Hopefully we will have a good crowd, though I hate how we always have a big game between xmas and new years.

    On a more important note: I’m in frosty Florida (29 degrees right now)… anyone know how I can live stream the game?

    • mac

      in florida 2 need a way 2 stream

      • Skinzkid

        In N.Y. looking for a live feed also.

  • I really think that if there’s one game against “elite” competition we can take this year, it’s this one. Purdue, outside of JaJuan Johnson, is tiny – Darius Morris is as tall as their power forward, and Johnson isn’t a bruising interior presence himself – more of a finesse player. I think we can control the boards and harrass at least one of the Big 2 into a mediocre game. If we can score a little, it’s ours.

  • Just springboarding off of Chitown, I think DMo will be a huge key to this game. If he remains composed in the face of the best D he’s looked at this year–and the two juniors can transmit some confidence to the youngsters down the stretch– Morgan and Novak can bang with Johnson enough to keep Michigan in the game. You’ve got to savor Michigan’s chances on the big stage. It will be very interesting to see who steps up.

    P.S. As soon as someone’s got a stream, could you post it? Will do the same. . .

  • Rick

    I’m at work and would love a stream for this game! THANKS!

    GO BLUE!

  • BoilerUp

    Nice preview! Always enjoy hearing a perspectie from the other side of the court. I’m definitely looking forward a good game and a great Big Ten opener.

    • BoilerUp


  • maxwell’s demon

    I think it remains to be seen how good Purdue is. Clearly they play great defense but without Hummel, I think they are just another good B10 team (granted better than us). What I do like about this match up is they apparently live off turnovers and Morris has been terrific in this area the whole year and as Dylan points out, it is a strength of our team. With aggressive perimeter defense I’m hoping the backdoor opens up. Horford v. Johnson match up should be interesting too. Huge game, and while I wouldn’t bet on us to win, I think we’ve got a good shot.

  • Tweeter

    Remember one of the big keys from that UTEP game was that the UTEP big man basically stood under the basket on defense and paid no attention to the Mich 5 man. This effectively clogged the lane and prevented back door cuts while the rest of the UTEP defenders overplayed passing lanes on the perimeter. Our bigs really struggled with decision making to combat this look.

    If Purdue does a similar thing with Jajuan Johnson, I think the improved abilities and confidence of our 5 men will help out. Especially Horford and his ability to hit longer jumpers.

    It will also be interesting to see how Purdue matches up with Lewis JAckson on the floor. I cannot see them using him on Morris because Morris would absolutely abuse him in the post, but the other options are not much better. If they put him on Novak, we could see a huge day again from Novak on the glass. If they put him on Hardaway, Timmy will just shoot over him. That is one thing I really love about this team, in that we are so big on the perimeter that there is always a matchup to take advantage of.

    I will jump out on that limb and say, UM pulls this one out. UM: 71 Purdue: 65

  • Stadium Journey will be on hand doing our updated review of Crisler Arena, glad to see it will be a packed house…

  • ryan

    for some odd reason I have a really good feeling about this game. They will continue the hot streak from last game and will make 10 of 25 from three.
    Hardaway and smotz will be hot from three.
    I see blue pulling it out 65-58

  • Woggy

    I agree with TMill that you do a fantastic job. I had issue with just one of your points and that was regarding Lewis Jackson. You say he turns the ball over too much. He is sitting at 48 assists to just 18 turnovers. That’s just 1.5 turnovers per game to 4.0 assists per game. Now granted, the number of assists fails in comparison to your top player Morris, but he also has one fewer turnover per game as well.

    Other than that, it was a great write up. I wish you guys all best for the rest of your season (after today)

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      Was referring to his 25% turnover rate, which isn’t great.

  • bluerev

    anyone know if I can still get tix for game–mgoblue shows no info, no family pack, ad all ticket offices are closed! Don’t want to drive an hour to not get into game!
    lmk asap. ths bluerev

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      Game is sold out apparently. You should be able to scalp one outside though.

  • Deacon Blues


    I’m very interested as well to see how Purdue defends Morris. Jackson is their PG, but Barlow is a better physical fit. Doesn’t make sense to make Moore expend the energy.

    Barlow on Morris, Moore on Hardaway and LewJack on Novak?