Post-game quick thoughts: It was an absolutely electric night inside Mackey…in the stands. Both teams struggled to establish their offensive rhythms throughout. Indiana’s high-low action was working for the first five possessions, yet they didn’t go back to it all game. Going forward, Purdue needs to space the floor better in transition, eliminate careless turnovers, and limit offensive boards. Brunk and Jackson-Davis have to be more involved for the Hoosiers. It wasn’t pretty, but the Boilermaker faithful willed their team to the finish line tonight.
With Conference Championship week and Selection Sunday looming, it’s go time for both the Indiana Hoosiers and Purdue Boilermakers on Thursday night in Mackey Arena.
Before their first faceoff in B-Town on February 8th, it was Indiana on the outside of the tournament bubble. Now Purdue finds itself in a similar situation. It’s amazing what a win against Penn State can do for a resume in 2020…
Many of the keys I discussed last time around are still in play for this matchup. IU must survive the first five to ten minutes if they want any chance of hanging around. Tom Izzo and Fran McCaffery can confirm. Archie Miller’s use of timeouts will also be important. Most coaches like to keep at least one in their pocket for late game situations; however, Archie may need to burn a couple early to halt Purdue’s momentum. But it won’t be easy.
IU’s Tourney hopes
As for the big picture, Indiana finds itself listed on Joe Lunardi’s “Last Four Byes” list. That doesn’t leave much cushion for the Hoosiers, who still travel to Champaign and host Minnesota and Wisconsin to round out the regular season schedule. Holding serve at home is essential, and a road win on either Thursday or Sunday will put Indiana in a more comfortable spot. Winning a Thursday game in the Big Ten tournament would be just enough to snatch a 10- or 11-seed. The best news for Indiana at the moment is that they’re trending in the right direction in the eyes of the committee.
Too late for Purdue?
Then there’s the guys in Lafayette. Four straight losses. Struggling to rebound late in games. A road trip to Iowa remains. All is not well. Purdue MUST win out. At that point they’ll need one-bid leagues to remain that way and a solid performance in Indianapolis. Only then can they talk about a shot at the Big Dance. Boilermaker fans just want to see effort and intensity again. Maybe knock down an open shot? Michigan imposed their will for the entire 40 minutes last Saturday, defending Purdue with active feet and hands. The Wolverines eliminated turnovers, giving away possession just three times. I don’t see a way for Indiana to replicate that kind of mistake-free performance, but it serves as a blueprint for how to handle Matt Painter’s squad away from Bloomington.
“I have larger hands than Joe Burrow.” -Me