Game 19: Purdue at Michigan Preview

Dylan Burkhardt
Who: Purdue (10-8, 3-2 B1G) at No. 2 Michigan (17-1, 4-1 B1G) purold[1]
Where: Crisler Center (Ann Arbor, MI)
When: 7:00 p.m., Thursday, January 24th, 2013
Radio: MGoBlue, 950 AM, 102.9 FM, Sirius/XM: 91
More: Notebook, Beilein & Morgan Video Previews, Pick to Click

On paper this is one of the easier games remaining on Michigan’s Big Ten schedule. It’s not Penn State or Nebraska but a home game against a Purdue team in the midst of a rebuilding season should be an easy win for a title contender. This Purdue team still defends like a vintage Matt Painter team but it lacks the top flight offensive talent required to be a legitimate league contender. Within the friendly confines of Crisler Center, Michigan should cruise to its fifth conference victory.

But Michigan should know better. Purdue has won six of the last eight against the Wolverines including the last two games in Ann Arbor – one of which was a deflating Senior Night loss that looked like it would cost Michigan a Big Ten Championship. It’s a new season and these two teams are vastly different squads with divergent goals, but that loss should serve as a very real reminder of the mental intensity needed to win any game in the Big Ten.

Purdue’s offense has struggled this season, failing to reach 1 point per possession in half of its games. On the season the Boilermakers rank 136th in adjusted offensive efficiency and they are managing just .99 points per trip in league games, 7th best in the Big Ten. However, Purdue enters Thursday’s game on the heels of its best offensive performance of the season: 1.19 points per trip in a 27 point blowout home win over West Virginia.

Purdue’s offensive struggles have been rudimentary and boil down to the simple fact that the Boilermakers struggle to make shots inside (47%) or outside (32%) and don’t get to the line often enough to make up for those shortcomings.  The Boilermakers don’t attempt many threes but their three point accuracy has been steadily increasing as they are shooting 50% (21-of-42) over the last four games. The bread and butter of the Purdue offense is the offensive rebound. The Boilermakers are the third best offensive rebounding team in the Big Ten, grabbing 36 percent of their misses in league games, but shouldn’t pack nearly the sort of offensive rebounding punch that Michigan faced last week in Minnesota.

Despite a young roster, Purdue plays the sort of defense you would expect. Purdue’s defense is on par with Michigan’s in league play, surrendering .97 points per trip thanks to incredibly stout interior defense. Opponents have made just 41% of their twos, 39 percent in league play, against Purdue. The Boilermakers are able to defend shots effectively while avoiding foul trouble but they aren’t without their issues. Purdue rarely forces turnovers and Big Ten foes are rebounding 33% of their missed shots. So while Purdue has defended twos better than anyone else in the league, the Boilermakers inabilities to finish possessions with defensive rebounds has been troubling.

Gone are the majority of the names that fans have associated with Purdue basketball over the last five years. Robbie Hummel and Lewis Jackson have moved on and Matt Painter is left with the youngest team in the Big Ten other than Michigan.


D.J. Byrd and Terone Johnson are the names you likely remember. Byrd is primarily a three point threat and the only true long range threat on the Purdue roster. A remarkable 73 percent of Byrd’s field goal attempts have originated from long range and his 115 attempts account for 47 percent of the Boilermakers’ three point attempts this season. Johnson shredded Michigan in Ann Arbor last season for 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting. He’s not the most efficient player (41% on twos, 35% on threes and 58% on free throws) but he’s a strong bodied guard that can put the ball on the floor and get to the rim.

Johnson’s younger brother, Ronnie Johnson, has stepped in as the starting point guard in his freshman season. Johnston struggles shooting from the field (40% on twos, 12% on threes) but is able to attack the basket and get to the free throw line often. Johnson is a promising prospect but his halfcourt offense leaves something to be desired as he’s not a great pick-and-roll player or spot up shooter.

7-foot, 280 pound big man A.J. Hammons anchors the middle for Matt Painter. Hammons is a solid offensive player that makes his presence felt in the paint. He’s Purdue’s best rebounder on both ends of the floor and is the Big Ten’s best shot blocker to boot. Purdue’s other bigs are limited, with Donnie Hale and Jacob Lawson leading the way, but Hammons could demand the attention of Mitch McGary given his size.

Rapheal Davis has been an emerging bright spot for the Boilermakers. The 6-foot-5 swingman has stepped into the Purdue starting lineup and is averaging eight points per game over Purdue’s last nine after being little more than an afterthought for the Boilers early on. Davis replaced Anthony Johnson in the starting lineup after the third (unrelated) Johnson struggled to find any sort of offensive groove this season.

Transition offense and defense could tell the story in this one. We’ve already covered Michigan’s transition offense is ad nauseam but transition offense and defense has meant a lot to Purdue this season as well. The Boilermakers score effectively in transition opportunities but struggle in the half court. Defensively, Purdue is an elite defensive team in the half court but struggles in the full court.

Purdue Off. PPP Percentile Def. PPP Percentile
Transition 1.10 74% 1.13 27%
Half Court 0.78 40% 0.73 92%

The drawback for the Boilermakers is that they need to crash the offensive glass to score points in half court situations. Crashing the glass against Michigan has been a death knell to opponents this season as the Wolverines aren’t just a great defensive rebounding team, they are devastating in transition off of clean rebounds. If Michigan is able to get out and run early on, this is a game that could get out of hand in a hurry. However, if the Boilermakers are able to limit Michigan’s transition opportunities, they appear to have the defensive mettle to turn this into a typical grinding Big Ten game.

The No. 1 ranking appears to be back on the table for the Wolverines after Duke’s blowout loss at Miami. Wins over Purdue and at Illinois would seem to cement Michigan’s chances at finally overtaking the No. 1 ranking for the first time in over 20 years (at least in the AP Poll). Ken Pomeroy’s numbers like Michigan by a final score of 76-59, giving the Wolverines a 94% chance of remaining perfect at home. Purdue looks like a team headed in the right direction, playing some of its best basketball right now, but this is still a game that should be a comfortable Michigan victory.

  • Cary Bear

    Unfortunately, even if michigan takes care of business in their next 2 games, I think we will still be number 2 behind kansas. Our minny win looks worse now and they beat ksu on the road (an osu) while we beat ksu at a neutral site and lost to osu. Their only loss was very early in the year and to a msu team that is ranked pretty high now. I wouldn’t mind being #2…it will keep everyone hungry and so far this year #1 seems pretty cursed.

    • Mith

      You have applied some good logic here, but the polls don’t always do that. I think Michigan slides up to #1 with a pair of wins here. Either way, it’s all good. We know we’ve got an elite team regardless!

    • Ace

      Our Minny win looks worse, but hey, at least our Northwestern win looks better now!

  • UM Hoops Fan

    Between the loss to PU last year, the Manny elbow, the beatdown when Manny was held out in ’10 (which felt like the epitome of that disappointing season), and the general existence of that Kramer kid, I will relish a beatdown of the Boilermakers if that blessed event were to happen.

  • Bluerev

    Great site–haven’t posted here or anywhere for a while but thanks for the news and what a season! 20 years since this kind of excitement and anticipation over UM hoops.

    Hope you take pride that the enthusiasm here may contribute to the Wolverines’ resurgence.

    Big game again tonight–we learned last year you can’t just chalk a Purdue team up as a W on the home court, so the team will be ready… And what a team it is!

    And LUV’N NEW NICKNAME–one that should stick (forgive if posted here already–just heard on am podcast), drumroll please…. ” G R 360 ” ! ! !

    Go blue

    & God loves you!


    • UMQuasi

      Speaking of nicknames, my girlfriend came up with one for Burke that I think is great: TreyBurke-u-losis. It also works when he makes a great one on one play, you can say that the defender came down with a case of TreyBurke-u-losis

      • Matzio

        Now that I’ve heard TreyBurke-u-losis, I can’t unhear it.

  • Mandingo

    Really agree with this analysis– talent-wise, Michigan should roll Purdue, but I am still nervous given what a nightmare they’ve been for UM over the last few years (I was at their beatdown of Michigan last year at Crisler). I have a feeling that the game ends up being a good bit closer than the KenPom estimate, with Purdue forgoing the offensive boards to make sure they slow down Michigan’s transition, and UM struggling a in the half court for much of the game, but the Wolverines really should pull this one out.

  • gpsimms

    I hate Purdue. I hate the way they grab on defense. I bet they get back on d instead of crash the glass, because they feel they have a chance against our half court offense in a slow, slow, game.

    I’m actually a little worried about this matchcup. Unlike Izzo, Painter’s not too arrogant to change up his style when it doesn’t fit the opponent.

    I’ll bet state sticks with two bigs against us, and tries to win the boards and we just run up and down the court on ’em. Purdue knows that to beat M, you gotta play like you’re Nebraska, and that worries me.

    Hopefully I’m wrong and we roll them.

  • rlcBlue

    Some matchup questions, certainly:
    Ronnie Johnson is lightning fast from baseline to baseline – think Dee Brown – but he hasn’t gotten the half court defense down yet. OSU abused him repeatedly with the pick and roll during the win in West Laffeytaffey. He would certainly prefer to get out in transition, but Painter surely doesn’t want to get in a running game with us.
    Hammons is a large human. We may want to double team him on the catch, especially when Byrd is not in the game. It would be a good chance to practice a skill that could be handy down the road. I wonder if Horford will play tonight?
    Stopping T. Johnson and Davis from penetrating will be a good test for Stauskas and Hardaway’s one-on-one defense.

  • MH_20

    Unrelated specifically to this preview, Trey Burke is now in the top spot of Kenpom’s player of the year standings. Russ Smith’s stats have dropped like a rock in his past two games, and Plumlee had a real stinker last night against Miami, launching Trey into first place. A solid performance tonight could start to put some distance on the field, though of course there is still a lot of basketball to be played.