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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, March 04, 2018 7:30 pm

Final observations: Purdue vs. Michigan

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

This was a different kind of game for Purdue, one the Boilermakerss hadn't experienced this season until Sunday. For the first time in 34 games, Purdue looked overmatched. It never held the lead for any significant length of time and fell behind Michigan at one juncture in the second half by 18 eights points, the largest deficit it's faced all season.

Before the game, I wrote that a big win for Purdue could turn some heads on the selection committee and possibly move the Boilers up to a No. 1 seed. Now, I'm wondering whether this type of loss, a game in which it just looked flat and out of sync most of the afternoon, could be enough to knock Purdue down to a No. 3 seed. 

Overall, however, it might be a mistake to read more into this performance than is necessary. Yes, it was badly timed, so the Boilers will have at least 10 and possibly 11 days to think about it before they play again, but it probably isn't as bad as it seems at first glance. Michigan represents about as tough of a matchup as Purdue can have. Moritz Wagner and Jon Teske are incredibly difficult covers for Isaac Haas and Matt Haarms, drawing the Purdue big men away from the paint. Almost no other team has that kind of big man rotation to throw at the Boilers' pair of 7-footers. 

In addition, I'll be surprised if we see the two Edwardses combine for as few as 16 points (their total Sunday) again before the season's over. Both Carsen and Vincent looked tired. Carsen Edwards especially left a lot of jumpers short and missed a couple of free throws, both of which are likely signs of tired legs. To be fair, Michigan had to be tired too, but the Wolverines got 23 points from their bench, while Purdue had just 13, including 11 from Nojel Eastern. With so much time off before the tournament, it's unlikely fatigue will be a factor for the Boilers, at least in the early rounds, even though they're not quite as deep as some other elite teams.

Still, it would be a mistake to say Sunday didn't raise any red flags. The Boilers became remarkably 1-dimensional on offense once it became clear their 3-pointers weren't falling. Essentially, dumping the ball into Haas was the only way to guarantee a good shot. They didn't move the ball well, and they gave up far too much easy penetration into the lane on defense. These are issues that it will take a long layoff to fix. Thankfully for the Boilers, they now have just such a layoff.