|Who: No. 16 Michigan (19-7, 11-3 B1G) at Purdue (15-12, 5-9 B1G)|
|Where: Mackey Arena, West Lafayette, IN|
|When: 7:00 p.m., Wednesday, February 26th, 2014|
|Radio: MGoBlue, 950 AM, 1050 AM, 91 Sirius/XM|
|More: Caris LeVert, Notebook, Videos|
Michigan controls its own Big Ten destiny with less than two weeks to play, but the last two years should serve as an important reminder: nothing is guaranteed. The Wolverines close the Big Ten schedule with games against Purdue, Minnesota, Illinois and Indiana. Two of the games are on the road, but the four teams have a combined 21-37 conference record — all winnable on paper.
Two years ago Michigan controlled its own fate, but slipped up at home and lost on senior night to Purdue. Last year, the Wolverines lost at Penn State and then were a missed tip in away from sharing the Big Ten title in their home finale. The Big Ten Championship picture might be clear right now, but there are more than likely a couple twists remaining down the road.
Purdue is battling to stay out of the Big Ten cellar rather than competing at the top of the conference, but Michigan needed a late comeback to win on the road against a similar Purdue squad last season. The Boilermakers have won two of their last three games at home, but have dropped seven of their last nine.
The one thing that Purdue does really well on both ends of the floor is crash the glass. The Boilermakers rebound 35.5% of their missed shots on offense, second best in the Big Ten, and 73.5% of their opponents’ misses, third best in the Big Ten.
Beyond that, there aren’t many highlights on the Purdue resume.
Purdue’s offense has managed just .99 points per possession in league games, 8th best in the conference, and the Boilermakers shoot just 43% on twos (11th) and 33% on threes (9th). Purdue gives the ball away on 18% of its offensive possessions, third worst in the Big Ten, and is the worst free throw shooting team in the league.
Defensively, the Boilers allow 1.06 points per possession, ninth best in the Big Ten. Purdue blocks the second most shots in the conference, but is the second worst team at defending twos. Big Ten foes make 50% of their twos and 33.2% of their threes (8th) for a second worst 49.9 effective field goal percentage allowed. The Boilermakers force turnovers on just 16% of their opponents’ possessions and surrendered 40 free throws per 100 field goal attempts.
The last time these two teams played, Purdue dominated the offensive glass but only managed to make two threes. The Boilers still manage 1.00 points per possession of offensive output, but Michigan’s offense controlled the game thanks to hot three-point shooting.
Terone Johnson leads Purdue in scoring at 11.8 points per game, but came off the bench in Sunday’s loss to Nebraska. Johnson expects to be back in the starting lineup and he’s a stereotypical ‘power guard’. Johnson has good quickness and likes to get in the lane, but he’s not the best finisher and settles for a lot of runners and other shots around the basket. He’s not a bad three-point shooter (36%), but the majority of his field goal attempts are inside the arc.
Terone’s brother Ronnie Johnson mans the point guard position. About a third of Johnson’s offensive possessions are ball screens, per Synergy, but he ranks 19th out of 21 Big Ten players with at least 100 ball screen possessions.
Kendall Stephens is the only Boilermaker to knock down more than 30 threes this season. He’s 56-of-145 (39%) from long distance and 81% of his field goal attempts are threes. Stephens was 2-of-5 from long distance in the first meeting, but was the only Purdue player to make a three.
A.J. Hammons averages 10.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per game in the post, but continues to be one of the most frustrating players in the Big Ten. Hammons is capable of dominating on any given night, but he’s just as likely to disappear. Hammons has post moves, size and offensive rebounding ability, but has been held to single digits in the last three games
Basil Smotherman and Errick Peck split time at the power forward position. Both players are in the 6-foot-6, 220 pounds range and are above-average rebounders. Smotherman is the more efficient offensive player, shooting 64% on twos, but neither pose a large threat from 3-point range or use many possessions offensively.
Bryson Scott is really struggling in Big Ten play. He’s shooting 30% on twos and 14% on threes for a 29.3 effective field goal percentage and is giving the ball away on 22% of his offensive possessions. Rapheal Davis provides an additional slashing option off the bench. He’s most effective when he gets to the free throw line
- Box out: Purdue is a great offensive rebounding team and the Boilermakers rebounded 39% of their misses in the first meeting. Michigan will need to do a better job on the defensive glass.
- Stop penetration and let Purdue shoot: Expect Michigan to pack the lane again and dare Purdue to shoot the three. Purdue probably won’t go 2-of-14 again, but the Boilermakers just don’t have enough consistent shooters to make Michigan pay.
- Keep Stauskas going: Stauskas had his best offensive game in about a month against Michigan State and Michigan will need its 6-foot-6 wing guard to keep it going down the stretch. It’s also important for Stauskas to get the big men involved in the pick-and-roll game again. The first game against Purdue (January 30th) was the last time that Jordan Morgan or Jon Horford reached double figures.
Ken Pomeroy gives Michigan a 74% chance of leaving West Lafayette with a victory, projecting a 75-68 final score.