Friday, November 30, 2012

Basketball Preview: Purdue vs. Xavier - December 1st - 2:15 pm - BTN

On Saturday afternoon the Boilers take on Xavier at home.  We all remember the debacle in Cincinnati last season, which was one reason why the win over Clemson never seemed certain in the second half.  We've seen Purdue blow 19-point second half leads.  This year though, both teams are very different after having lost their top players and multiple starters to graduation.

For the first time this year the Boilers will be coming off a road win and a victory over a quality opponent.  Does that mean this team has turned the corner and has a greater sense of identity with it's shortened rotation?  Or will the Clemson game prove to be a fluke mostly attributed to DJ Byrd's career-best first half?

Why Purdue Will Win -  Both teams are young and don't exactly instill fear in their opponents, so I'm giving the edge to the Boilers due to home court advantage and the hunger for revenge from last year's game. Xavier's only quality win this season was against Butler, which is impressive until you discount the fact that the Bulldogs are completely bipolar this year, pulling some big upsets like against North Carolina, but also losing big to Xavier and Illinois.  As we saw against Clemson, this Purdue team can play really well when their shots are falling, and Hammons should be able to get some easy buckets down low since Xavier can't match his size.  Speaking of size, Purdue should absolutely dominate the glass if they hope to win, ala the Clemson game.  Xavier is not a particularly good rebounding team, and the Boilers' energy and knack for offensive boards this week could be huge.

Why Xavier Will Win -  The Boilers may be a little fatigued after their big road game and travel, but the only guy I'm worried about being tired is DJ Byrd.  Can he continue to be a viable three-point threat?  If not, Xavier can pack the paint and shut down the entire offense.  Xavier isn't great at holding onto the ball, but they average fewer turnovers than Purdue and don't foul nearly as often as the young Boilers.  Although they haven't played as physical of competition, a sloppy game could work in the Musketeers favor as they also shoot well from the charity stripe.  Another big thing to fear is their three-point shooting.  They have three players who shoot near (or better than) 50% from long range, so the Boilers will likely be running all over the court on defense to stay on the shooters.

One thing you absolutely need to know before the game -  Remember Jeff Robinson?  Back in 2009 in he signed with Purdue but didn't make grades so he headed to Xavier. He was a non-factor last season, but this year he's the team's third leading rebounder and scorer.  Some say his grade issue was manufactured by Purdue since Robinson had a poor senior high school season. I wonder if he's bitter and will have a monster game?  You know who was added to the 2009 recruiting class instead of Robinson?  Patrick Bade.  That worked out well.

Want another Purdue connection?  Matt Painter was the runner-up for the services of Xavier point guard Dee Davis who is leading the X-men in points per game.  If he had signed in 2011, would we still have gotten Ronnie (and Bryson Scott coming next year)?  I'm OK with that exchange, but Davis is no slouch.

Our Picks - We like to think we're better than Vegas.  So throughout the season, we'll be "betting" a whole dollar amount versus the spread between $1 and $32, but we can't repeat the same value twice. The spread for this game is Purdue -4.5.

Erik's Bet: $25
Erik's Pick: Xavier 72 - Purdue 69

Kirk's Bet: $24
Kirk's Pick: Purdue 66 - Xavier 64

Erik +118
Kirk -178

Values already bet
Erik 6, 11, 12, 13, 14, 26, 30, 32
Kirk 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32

Boiler up!

Basketball Recap: Purdue 73 - Clemson 61

For half a game last night, Purdue looked like the team we've watched all season: too many turnovers, missed free throws, inconsistent offense, trouble holding a lead.  And for the other half of the game, thankfully, DJ Byrd decided to channel JJ Redick.

In the first half, the Boilers played like a team on a mission.  I suppose having a week off to prepare can do that for you, and even though Clemson was missing it's best player, you can't blame Purdue for taking advantage.  Byrd lit up the Tigers for 20 points in the first half.  This was some amazing production from a player I was getting pretty frustrated with so far this season.  As the senior leader of the team, Byrd hadn't been able to find his shot yet this season prior to this game, shooting only 34% overall thanks to a paltry 28% from long range.  This is especially crucial since one thing the Boilers lack without Byrd is a three-point threat (although Terone's been shooting them well this season, just not that frequently).

DJ made his first five attempts, including four threes in the first six minutes of the game.  At that point he was on pace for 75 points on 25 threes.  Obviously he cooled down a bit as the Tiger defense had to focus on guarding him much more closely, and this created opportunities for the rest of the Boilers.  In the first half Purdue shot 57% to Clemson's 43%, which allowed them to build a 20-point lead by halftime.

The unsung hero of the Purdue first half was the team's rebounding, pulling down 22 boards to Clemson's 6. Yes, you read that correctly.  Clemson went over 12 minutes in the first half without a rebound.  If I were a Tiger fan, I think I would have lost my voice screaming at the television.  Purdue definitely had a height advantage, but they were also playing aggressively and with the passion I was hoping to see earlier this year. Part of the rebounding margin was due to Clemson missing more shots, but credit Purdue for not giving up an offensive rebound.  The other less positive reason was Purdue turned the ball over too much.  It's one thing we're simply going to continue to see from this young team, but as we saw last night, good shooting and rebounding can more than makeup for that.

The second half was not as pretty, and for some reason, even with the Boilers leading by double digits almost the entire time, I felt like they were losing.  I guess that was because the Clemson fans were getting into it (after sitting on their hands for their ugly first half) and Purdue went back to playing sloppy basketball, missing free throws down the stretch and getting out-rebounded.  It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't pretty, and if not for the awesome first half, Purdue could have easily lost by double digits.

But they didn't.  This win will be critical for the Boilers' postseason hopes in March, since the committee likely won't remember that Clemson was missing it's top scorer (just like Purdue won't get any grace for not having Terone in the Bucknell loss), and a double-digit road win against a quality opponent carries a lot of weight.

Other things that were positive from the game included the tightened rotation and the play of AJ Hammons and Terone.  Painter didn't employ his 11-man rotation like in previous games, giving the bulk of the minutes to seven guys.  Ronnie seems to fit into the sixth man role well, giving the team more consistency from the onset with Anthony Johnson at the point.  Ronnie had ten points with seven rebounds and three assists.  The bench player being used most heavily next was a surprise for me.  Travis Carroll played fourteen minutes and tallied four points, four fouls, and only one rebound.  I'm not sure exactly why Sandi didn't play at all, and I wouldn't expect that to continue, but I'm still not sure what Carroll adds other than a bit of experience.  It'll be interesting if this trend continues against Xavier.  Other than that, Simpson and Davis barely played, and Hale logged an ineffective nine minutes.

But back to the starters, I thought Hammons and Terone had nice games.  Big AJ can do a lot of good things down low, and I think he's only scratched the surface.  He had ten points on efficient shooting, made his free throws, had two blocks and six rebounds, and was a good defensive presence.  He'll still need to watch his foul trouble, especially against more physical teams, but I'm really excited for his future at Purdue.  Terone tallied thirteen points, six rebounds, and an impressive six assists.  The Boilers will need Terone to but up good offensive numbers every night if they hope to survive in Big Ten play, so it's nice to see him produce.  DJ won't rack up 22 points most nights.

Our Picks Update
I'm sad to report that my streak is over.  I picked correctly that the Boilers would cover against the 5.5 point spread.  I know I let you all down by not choosing incorrectly, since you've been basing your real bets off doing the opposite thing I do this entire season.  Sorry about that.  I'll try to do better, I mean worse, next time.

Standings through eight games
Erik +118
Kirk -178

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Milton Jennings Out For Clemson Tonight

According to, Clemson senior Milton Jennings has been suspended for tonight's game due to an "undisclosed violation of team rules".  A subsequent search of Pickens County public records shows that Jennings was also charged today with "drugs / possession of 28g (1 oz) or less of marijuana or 10g or less of hash".  Of course, the suspension could have been for other reasons (we don't want to make any assumptions or accusations here at, but it doesn't look good for Jennings, considering it's his 3rd suspension in 13 months. 

Meanwhile, this gives Purdue a golden opportunity to defeat an undermanned and under-experienced Clemson team who now has only one senior and no juniors on the roster.  Jennings is one of Clemson's top players and will be sorely missed. Check out our preview below and Boiler Up!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Basketball Preview: Purdue at Clemson. - November 28th - 7:15 pm - ESPNU

It's our 100th post!  Let's hope the Boilers celebrate with a big win tomorrow!
Purdue at Clemson...oh the memories!  I traveled down to Clemson, SC for the game 5 years ago when we barely knew anything about the Baby Boilers.  My brother attended Clemson, and since Purdue and Clemson rarely play each other in any sport, the whole family went down to watch the sibling rivalry.  Purdue lost 61-58, but probably would have pulled it our had Chris Kramer not botched a dunk a minute into the second half.  After hitting his head on the ground, Kramer sat the rest of the game, giving the Freshmen their most minutes since they started at Purdue earlier that month.  This being my first time seeing the new guys live, I remember leaving the game talking about how Scott Martin would be the top player in the class, while thinking this Robbie Hummel guy looked better than I expected.  The other two looked raw, but had a bit of potential.  

Scott Martin nearly led the Boilers to a win last time Purdue played in Clemson - that seems like a LONG time ago!

Well, it's been a wild ride since that night (and I was proven very wrong!), but amazingly, Purdue heads down to Clemson in a very similar situation.  Honestly, this group of freshmen are at a very similar skill level as the Baby Boilers were at this point.

The Boilers have a huge 5 game stretch coming up, with all of them except Lamar being difficult but winnable games (@Clemson, Xavier, @E. Michigan, Notre Dame).  If they struggle with this stretch, they may dig themselves too big of a hole come March.  On the flip side, Purdue could put themselves in great shape for the Big Ten season with 4 or 5 wins. It all starts on Wednesday night...

Why Purdue Will Win -  The Boilers have a huge opportunity and they've had a week to prepare.  In the meantime, Clemson's played 3 games since Thursday, losing to Gonzaga while beating UTEP and Marist.  There's no way Clemson's as prepared as the Boilermakers, and hopefully Matt Painter has started to figure out the rotations that work the best.  Clemson, like Villanova, is a very similar team to Purdue in that they only have two upperclassmen on the entire team - they may actually be younger than the Boilermakers.  They also don't shoot very well.  If Purdue can force the young Tigers into 20 turnovers and hold their own on the glass, they should be able to pull it out.

Why Clemson Will Win -  Clemson's Littlejohn Coliseum is not a very intimidating place to play.  Expect no more than 8,000 of the 10,000 seats to be filled (there were 4,500 for Clemson's home opener), as Clemson truly is a football school (Death Valley holds over 81,000 and routinely sells out).  However, this atmosphere may keep the youthful Boilers from focusing on how difficult winning their first true road game will really be. Milton Jennings and Devin Booker (the two seniors on the team) are more established and better players than Purdue's seniors (Byrd and Anthrop) and can go off at any time. The key to the game may actually be foul trouble.  If Booker can stay out of foul trouble and draw some fouls on AJ Hammons, Clemson probably wins.  Booker is the tallest regular at 6'8", so expect the winner of his matchup with the 7-footer to decide the game.

One thing you absolutely need to know before the game - Are you frustrated about Purdue's free throw percentage the last two years?  Imagine being a Clemson fan. Check out Clemson's free throw percentage in the last 10 seasons (Purdue's percentage is in parentheses):

2003-04: 63.1% (73.6)
2004-05: 60.1% (68.0)
2005-06: 61.7% (68.4)
2006-07: 57.8% (67.8)
2007-08: 62.3% (71.2)
2008-09: 68.8% (70.3)
2009-10: 66.1% (72.3)
2010-11: 70.1% (71.5)
2011-12: 67.0% (65.6)
2012-13: 66.2% (64.6)

While the Tigers have been a little better in the last few years, Purdue's "awful" free throw shooting of the past year and a half has pretty much been the norm for Clemson over the last decade.  Regardless, I doubt either team will feel too confident with a 10-point lead in the last 10 minutes...

Our Picks - We like to think we're better than Vegas.  So throughout the season, we'll be "betting" a whole dollar amount versus the spread between $1 and $32, but we can't repeat the same value twice. The spread for this game is Clemson by 5.5.

Erik's Bet: 30
Erik's Pick: Purdue 61 - Clemson 60

Kirk's Bet: 25
Kirk's Pick: Clemson 64 - Purdue 62

Erik +88 (6 for 7!)
Kirk -203 (An incredible 0 for 7!)

Values already bet
Erik 6, 11, 12, 13, 14, 26, 32
Kirk 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32

Boiler up!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Purdue - Indiana Recap: Celebrate a Bucket and a Bowl

Ah, that felt good.  On Saturday, Purdue was able to pull away from IU in the fourth quarter for a 56-35 win.  The game was far closer than the final score though and was tied with eleven minutes to play before the Hoosiers fell apart.  And that's what really happened.  Purdue played an OK game, but far from pretty or flawless, and IU made more mistakes and couldn't hang onto the ball in crunch time.

Beating IU always feels good, but it was a little bit sweeter this season since it meant the chance to not only keep the Old Oaken Bucket, but also qualify for a bowl game.  And thankfully, due to the sad state of the conference and Ohio State and Penn State's ineligibility, it means the Boilers won't be stuck playing in Detroit for some free $5 pizza.

There was another reason it felt good.  No, not because Danny Hope was able to end his tenure with a win, or because he was (rightfully in my mind) relieved of his post today (check out Erik's post).  It felt good because I watched it all happen from enemy territory, the heart of Bloomington.  No, I didn't get confused and think the game was at Indiana or drive the wrong way on I-65.  Hanging out with good friends sometimes means you have to put campus loyalty aside, and I thank the entire Purdue football team for allowing me to walk through IU's campus on Saturday evening with my head held high, pumping many a "Boiler Up" into the air.

What Went Well
I felt like Saturday was a celebration of the senior class, as Senior Day should be.

Robert Marve: An efficient 20 for 29 for 348 yards and four touchdowns.  Yes, there was an interception, but since that ricocheted off of at least three different players, it's hard to get too upset about it (although it was a big momentum killer).  There were a couple near-miss interceptions, too, but Marve played smart and it's been so clear that his leadership and passion on and off the field brings out the best in the Boiler offense.  Even when his pass was intercepted, he ran half the length of the field to track down the culprit and lay a great tackle on him.  Quite a nice run for a guy without an ACL.  It's going to be a pleasure watching Marve in the bowl game, and it's just a shame we didn't get to see as much of him leading the Boilers as I'd have liked.

Akeem Shavers: 27 carries for 126 yards resulting in one touchdown and two catches for 99 yards for two touchdowns,  Talk about a fantastic freaking day! 225 of all purpose yards - the man simply would not be stopped.  Rumbling through tacklers, making Hoosiers miss and look silly, and stiff arming with a vengeance, it was nice for Shavers to have a career day in his last meaningful collegiate game.  He had another 70-yard touchdown run as well, but it was called back for holding.  We knew the way to beat IU was with the run game, but hit two critical monster receptions were icing on the cake.

Kurt Freytag: Who?  I don't think the fullback has warranted a mention on our site until this weekend, since he was a non-entity all season, but then he rattles off a 16-yard run and two catches for 31 yards.  Another career day for a Boilermaker.

Antavian Edison: Edison and the receiving corps were plagued by drops in the second quarter, and he was fairly quiet in the second half while they guys mentioned above did most of the work, but he had five catches for 50 yards, including a touchdown in the first quarter.

Crosby Wright: The big guy needs to watch his holding penalties, since one negated a 70-yard touchdown run, but he had three catches in the second half for 81 yards that were huge on some of Purdue's scoring drives.

Max Charlot: Another senior we've never mentioned.  The safety came up with a great interception that basically iced the game for the Boilers.

What Still Concerns Me
It's hard to really be too concerned with what's next this season.  It's nice to win a bowl game and end the season with a winning record, but it really doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things.  It definitely won't matter for recruiting since receivers coach Patrick Higgins will serve at interim head coach for the bowl game, and it's anyone's guess if Burke will announce a hire before that time.  The Boilers will likely be over-matched in their bowl game against a Big 12 opponent, but the game should still be exciting, and it will be nice to see the seniors play one more time.

Likewise, I can't be too concerned with next season until we know more.  The defense gave up far too many rushing yards to Stephen Houston and the Indiana backs and didn't get to Coffman as frequently as I'd like, but that doesn't mean next year's team will have the same issues.  Firing Hope was the right thing to do, even though I think he's a fantastic guy.  Purdue's already lost a few recruits who had verbally committed, but with the right coaching choice, they'll pick up some new ones as well.  I'm happy I'll never have to think about Nord again, and a new offense could inject some much needed life into the fanbase.

Plays of the Game
There were a lot of big plays, and I can't just pick one.  First, there was this great string in the third quarter:

  • With the score tied, IU quarterback Cameron Coffman through an idiotic bomb down the middle of the field where safety Frankie Williams had his man beat the entire time.  As the announcers said, once Williams caught the ball near the goal line, it was more like he was back in his role as a punt returner.  This was the first of many costly IU second-half turnovers, and it allowed the defense to build some confidence after holding the Hoosiers to a three-and-out to start the half.
  • On the very next play, Marve connected with tight end Crosby Wright for a 58-yard pass where Wright rumbled through Hoosier defenders and carried three of them to the goal line (that was totally a touchdown by the way, but whatever).  The play allowed Purdue to retake the lead after being down seven at halftime, and they never trailed again.
  • On IU's next series they again made it to midfield, but Will Lucas forced a fumble which eventually led to another Purdue touchdown, making the lead fourteen.
Continuing the trend of quick momentum shifts, after IU tied the game at 35 in the fourth quarter, another trio of big plays sealed the deal for Purdue.
  • Marve threw a weak-side screen pass to Shavers who bolted 73 yards for the touchdown, which included some great blocks and the most exciting stiff arm I've ever seen.  Shavers simply would not be stopped.
  • On the very next play, Coffman was intercepted by Max Charlot and five plays later Shavers caught another pass for the touchdown.

What About the Real IU Football Team?
Most IU students and fans couldn't tell you the name of the Hoosiers' starting quarterback (that isn't an exaggeration, I checked) because they'd rather ignore their athletic program's weaknesses and focus on the strong reemergence of the basketball program.  The football team they really support, Notre Dame, is going to play for the national title, so even though they lost the Bucket, many don't care. I've shared my feelings about the Irish earlier this season, and it's incredibly painful to know that they only have a place at the table because Purdue let a game slip through their fingers. I'll be rooting hard for the SEC champion to win the national title, merely as the lesser of two evils.  I sure hope it's Georgia, so that I don't have to cheer for Nick Saban.

Picks of the Week Update
Erik was spot on that the Boilers would win by a large margin, and since he went "all in" with his $220 ticket to watch the Cavs lose a heartbreaker to the Spurs in 2007 NBA Finals, he's safely in the lead with $172 to my $119.50.  I maintained my commitment to bet against Purdue with the spread, but will I break away from that for the bowl game now that Hope is gone?  I can't let Erik see all my cards, but turns out what I do doesn't matter one iota mathematically.  For the bowl game, we each have to bet double our previous bet, so I'm in for $200 and Erik's in for $440.  Therefore, it really comes down to only two possible scenarios:

  • Erik picks correctly (no matter what I do): Erik wins the overall season
  • Erik picks wrong (no matter what I do): I win
No pressure, Erik!  I'm already formulating my plan to pick Purdue to win by 999 points.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Hope Gone

Well, it's official - Danny Hope has been fired.  And while you can read his story all over the internet, I felt like I needed to add my two cents. 
Hope went down fighting

I've never met the man, but from everything I've heard and everything I've seen, Hope was a great guy and had as much Purdue pride as anyone.  After the Illinois game, Hope was interviewed on the field and ended it with a resounding "Boiler Up!"  I LOVED it.  In fact, if Purdue was to make it to the Rose Bowl and I got to choose the coach that took us there, I probably would have chosen Danny Hope.  He was an awesome guy to root for and his energy and love for Purdue was, at times, a huge motivation to the fanbase.   I mean, who can forget Hope giving his whistle to a student while celebrating on the field after the 2009 Ohio State win?   Unfortunately, he just wasn't ready to be a big time coach. 

I find myself with conflicting feelings.  I feel bad for a man who was a great representative for the University and who ran off the field yesterday, head held high with his teary-eyed wife.  At the same time, he was given 4 years.  4 years to prove himself that he belonged.  And when he finally put together a team that had fans, players, and coaches thinking Rose Bowl, his team laid an egg and the fans responded.  If Purdue wants to sell out Ross-Ade, they need to consistently be in the Top 25 - something they haven't even sniffed in the last 5 years. It's a bittersweet ending for Hope, but it had to be done.

Thank you for your time at Purdue, Danny.  Your fire and heart will truly be missed.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Preview: Purdue vs. Indiana - November 24th - Noon - BTN

The Bucket is on the line tomorrow, and I have the easiest post to write since we started this blog.  The storylines  are endless!  Can Purdue get a win to secure a spot in a New Years Day bowl?  Can the Hoosiers beat the Boilers in the first year in recent history that Indiana played a meaningful football game?  Does Danny Hope get fired after the game no matter what happens?  If Purdue wins, does Hope keep his job through the bowl game?  It’s tough to fire a coach after 4 straight wins – just ask the 2009 Cleveland Browns and Eric Mangini.  Will fans show up in support of Marve, Bolden, and the rest of the seniors?  Or will they stay away in protest of the ”special” season that got away?  So many interesting plots, so little time – let’s go…

Why Purdue wins
How much do you hate IU right now?  Their basketball team is (undeservedly) #1 right now (did you see them against Georgetown?).  Their football team is #1 too, even though the refs pretty much gave them the game against Purdue.  Oh wait, they actually have a football team down in Bloomington?  You wouldn’t know it listening to southern Indiana.  Their fans don’t care.  Their team has mailed it in for any game that’s actually mattered.  And the Purdue players are playing to potentially send off a “players” coach that they’ve really rallied around in the past.  Remember Tiller’s send off game?  There’s no way Purdue loses this one…

Why Illinois wins 
…unless they play like they did against Illinois.  Or Minnesota.  Or any other non-Ohio State Big Ten team.  How many times have you thought Purdue was going to compete this year and instead just completely laid an egg?  It could happen again.  This isn’t yours or your parents’ or your grandparents’ or your great-grandparents’ Indiana team.  They’re actually decent.  And with no bowl to play for (just like so many years in the past), this IS their bowl game.  Nothing would make the Hoosiers happier than to keep Purdue out of a bowl game.  Their two Big Ten wins have come against Iowa and Illinois.  Sound familiar?  Indiana believes this is an even game and might just pull it off.

Player we're most concerned about since their stock photo may break our TV
Good Lord, IU's starting center Will Matte is a scary looking dude at a school that has a lot of scary looking dudes.  Would you really want to meet this guy outside of Bloomington in, let’s say, Stepp Cemetery?  Let's hope we don't meet him on BTN either…

Picks of the week
This week, we’re betting any value up to the cost of the most expensive sporting ticket we’ve ever purchased.  If Purdue makes a bowl game, we have to double whatever we bet for this game. The spread is Purdue -5.5.

Erik’s Bet 
Since I’m so far behind, I’ll be betting the entirety of my $220 2007 NBA Finals Game 3 ticket between the Cavs and the Spurs.  The Cavs lost, but there was no way I was missing the first NBA Finals game in Cleveland history!

Erik’s Pick 
Purdue will come out of nowhere like in Joe Tiller’s last year and pull off another blowout.  Purdue 62 – Indiana 21

Kirk’s Bet 
Kirk will be betting $100 of his $200 Final Four ticket from 2010.  I went with Kirk to this one - it was worth every penny!

Kirk’s Pick 
Kirk continues to bet against Purdue but he thinks the Boilers will squeak this one out Purdue 31 – Indiana 28

Three Final Things

2) IU Sucks!

3) Boiler Up!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Basketball Recap: Purdue 66 - UNCW 40

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  Why are you reading this instead of watching football, drinking beer, eating pumpkin pie and hanging out with your family?  Why am I writing this instead of watching football, drinking beer, eating pumpkin pie and hanging out with my family? It's going to be a short one.

The Boilers survived a scare in this one as they took only a one point lead with a Terone Johnson 3-pointer to end the first half.  However, Matt Painter put a charge in his troops as Purdue held the Seahawks to 12 second half points for the much needed win.  With toss-up games against Clemson and Xavier coming up in the next week, it was vital to remember how to win again.  Solid second-half efforts are becoming the trend for this team, however this time, it wasn't close enough to blow it at the end.

Terone Johnson led the team with 19 points and it's great to see him finally healthy.  Also among the highlights is Jacob Lawson play, as he put in 17 energetic minutes and seemed like he was everywhere with 2 monster blocks.  You don't often see someone who scored zero points be among the highlights, but Lawson is really endearing himself to the Purdue faithful.  But the best highlight of all was 20-24 from the free throw line!  Maybe they shot better because it was an inferior team and there was less pressure, but it's great to see these guys convert at the line.  Imagine what the first half score would have been if they didn't shoot 8 for 9 from the stripe!

As I mentioned, this was a quick one due to the holiday.  The only other thing I'd like to point out is Kirk's unbelievable streak of picking 7 consecutive games wrong against the spread.  That is something that's in the 99th percentile of improbability....let's see how long this streak continues and hope he keeps picking against Purdue!

Boiler Up! Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Basketball Preview: Purdue vs. UNC Wilmington - November 21st - 8:00 pm - BTN

After an absolute disaster in New York in the 2K Sports Classic, the Boilers return to Mackey Arena to hopefully beat up on the UNC Wilmington Seahawks.  It's very clear this team needs a lot of work, and while there's still potential for the players to develop and better gel as a team, if they don't figure things out quickly, conference play will be here before they're ready.  Wednesday's game should be a chance to work on things like actually running the offense, stopping the turnovers, and watching the fouls, though we know the free throw woes are going to last all season.  Also, it would be nice to see DJ Byrd and the Johnsons start hitting their outside shots at a higher percentage, and they should have the opportunity since UNCW will likely have to pack the paint to try and stop the Boiler Bigs and slashers.

Why Purdue Will Win -  UNCW is a bad team.  Even with the Boilers' struggles, there's no excuse for this game being remotely close.  Wilmington has lost by 43 points to Richmond and 38 points to Ohio, both on the road.  They are turnover prone and shoot poorly, which sounds a lot like the Boilers, however, the talent gap is quite large and the Seahawks are a bit undersized (and guard heavy with their rotation).  Purdue should win the rebound battle and be able to score inside, as long as they figure out how to actually run their offense.  Think AJ Hammons will drop another 20 points?  Definitely possible, but I expect the rotation to still be deep with lots of players getting minutes against a weaker opponent.

Why UNC Wilmington Will Win -  In a previous game this season, the Seahawks went 19 for 19 from the free throw line.  Maybe the Boilers can learn something from them this time, but we all know the refs can sometimes get carried away with one-sided whistles.  If UNCW can protect the ball and get Purdue in foul trouble, they have a shot of making this a closer game.  Still, to have a chance to win, they'll need to also get hot shooting despite hitting less than 38% of their shots this season, and don't expect it to be from downtown as they're just as bad as Purdue in that regard (26% and 25% respectively).

One thing you absolutely need to know before the game -  Hopefully the game isn't even remotely close, since anything else would be quite disappointing.  If you're in the Greater Lafayette area, take a kid to the game.  Tickets for kids 14 and under are only five bucks (with the purchase of an adult ticket).  With the students on Thanksgiving break, Mackey will probably be pretty quiet missing the Paint Crew, so take some loud and rowdy kids to scream and shout for the Boilers.

Our Picks - We like to think we're better than Vegas.  So throughout the season, we'll be "betting" a whole dollar amount versus the spread between $1 and $32, but we can't repeat the same value twice. The spread for this game is Purdue by 20.5 points.

Erik's Bet: $11
Erik's Pick: Purdue 81 - UNCW 60

Kirk's Bet: $26
Kirk's Pick: Purdue 70 - UNCW 55

Erik +77
Kirk -177 (0 for 6, let's make it 7!)

Values already bet
Erik 6, 11, 12, 13, 14, 26, 32
Kirk 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32

Boiler up!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Purdue - Illinois Recap: Boilers Ugly, But Take Care of Business

Last week's game against Iowa was a fun one.  This week's game was not.  But after a couple tough basketball losses, a 20-17 win was all Purdue fans were looking for.  Amazingly, a win at home against IU most likely puts Purdue in a New Years Day bowl game - perhaps against a team who just beat the number 1 team in the country!  Regardless of how you feel about Hope, I think we can all agree it would be pretty nice to wake up on January 1st to get ready for a bowl game against a BCS conference opponent.

"Maybe if we jump up and spread our bodies out it'll look like there are more than 50 people here!"
The Return of Offensive Blah
The Boilers lost the turnover battle against Iowa 3-0, yet still pulled out the win on the road.  So, one would think that WINNING the turnover battle 3-0 would result in a cakewalk for Purdue.  The Illini fumbled the ball three times in the first half, yet Purdue gained a total of -11 yards off of those three turnovers.  I'm sure I wasn't the only one who felt the Boilers were in trouble at this point. 

Ball Security
I don't even want to think what would have happened had we turned the ball over.  Losing that game might have been the low point in Danny Hope's career.  Marve played a very efficient game (18-26 for 173 yards - even with a 63-yard TD pass) and special teams didn't make a single boneheaded mistake.  It may not have been a pretty game, but the Boilers didn't do anything to lose it.

Play of the Game
Ralph Bolden's 63-yard run was one of the best runs I've seen all year and should have resulted in a touchdown.  Unfortunately, Bolden suffered a pulled hamstring 15-yards into his run, yet he STILL scampered another 40-yards on a bum leg!  Purdue ended up scoring a big touchdown on the drive a few plays later.  Bolden is questionable for his last game at Ross-Ade this Saturday - let's hope he can play so we can celebrate his great career at Purdue.

Official Report

For the first time in awhile, I don't remember a problem with the officiating.  Perhaps the refs fell asleep in the first half too...

Picks of the Week Update
Kirk nearly got the point differential exactly right as his 24-20 pick earns him $200, while my faith in a big Purdue win cost me $99.  I'm now at -$48 while Kirk's at +$219.50.  Unfortunately for Kirk, he can't use any of that money to improve his basketball standings as he currently stands at a statistically improbable 0-6 on the season.  To make things interesting, a decision will need to be made for this week's game.  Should I gamble now or hope Purdue makes a bowl game? Stay tuned to find out...

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Basketball Recap: Oregon St. 66 - Purdue 58

The 2K Sports Classic appeared to be a great opportunity to get some wins against middle-of-the-road teams on a neutral court that could go a long way in helping the RPI and a potential tourney bid.  Instead, it exposed Purdue’s weaknesses and turned into the worst-case scenario.  If you consider the fact that the first two games of the season were also technically part of the event, the Boilers lost to 3 unranked teams with none of them being a true road game. What went wrong?

I don't want to know where Starks' other hand is.
Free Throw Shooting – How can the Boilers be continuously this bad at the free throw line?  Even the supposed “good” shooters (Byrd, Hale, Anthony Johnson) struggle from the line.  This is not something that’s going to change overnight either – you can practice all you want, but anybody who’s played competitive basketball knows that after you’ve been hacked and been running around for several minutes, trying to compose yourself and shoot free throws is not the easiest thing in the world. Mentally, you need to be tough and be able to take yourself back into the gym where you shot thousands upon thousands of free throws.  The mental toughness of the leaders of the team this year is concerning.

Inexperience – At the same time, this is such a young team and they’re going to do stupid things.  Ronnie Johnson didn’t get nearly the minutes he should have against the Beavers (only 18 minutes) because he “left his jersey at home”.  (As an aside, he wore John Hart’s old number [#32] – how many extra jerseys do you think the team takes with them on the road???)  Also, Donnie Hale committed an awful offensive foul late in the game that pretty much sealed the game.
In addition, Purdue is no longer an efficient offensive team. The past several years have seen the Boilers make up for their lack of rebounding by taking care of the ball.  Not this year.  In fact, I’d argue that if we committed our average number of turnovers (8) from last year in each 2K Sports Classic game, Purdue would be 4-0.

Rebounding – I nearly wrote in the preview of this game that Purdue was starting to create a rebounding identity that we hadn’t seen in the Matt Painter era.  I’m glad I didn’t write that, because I wrote enough stupid things in my preview ***cough…ESPN2…cough***.  Purdue got outrebounded by 10, and it didn’t even seem that close.

End of Game Management – Purdue spent most of the game struggling on the offensive end.   However, AJ Hammons WENT OFF in the second half and single-handedly brought Purdue back from a 15-point deficit.  He even hit two free throws (!) to tie the game with just over two minutes left.  So, who would you go to in the last two minutes?  Hammons.  How many touches did he get in the final two minutes? ONE.  And it was outside the three point line.  He has 16 points in the second half and has only missed two shots all game, yet he doesn’t get a single touch in a scoring opportunity.  I'm sure all Boilermaker fans were thrilled then when Anthony Johnson threw up an air ball (yes, I used the phrase“threw up” on purpose).

Despite the criticisms, this team isn’t one to give up on.  They’re exciting AND frustrating, and they’re going to knock off some good teams this year.  They’re not an NCAA tourney team RIGHT NOW, but neither was the 2007 team when the Big Ten season started.  I really believe Ronnie Johnson has the potential of Kyrie Irving and AJ Hammons looked dominant at times in his 4th-ever collegiate game.  Remember, Jajuan Johnson averaged 5.4 points per game his freshman year – Hammons had 20 on Friday night!  Keep the faith Boilermaker fans.  The future is bright. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

You Are Bad at Your Job!: A First-Hand Account of the Travesty at Madison Square Garden

The title of this post sounds like a book, and I could definitely write 100 pages about my experience attending the game at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night, but it's more there to outline what I spent a good part of the night screaming at the referees.  "You Are Bad at Your Job," and other not-so-polite things could be heard throughout the incredibly empty arena.  But let's start from the beginning, as I'm sure you are all interested in the overall environment at MSG.

While I'm frequently in New York for work and only one block away from the arena, I hadn't been to a game there in almost two years (Knicks vs. Magic shortly after the Carmelo trade).  The stadium is currently under a much needed renovation, but the updates are very nice.  Honestly, I didn't even recognize the seating areas as they've reduced some of the walkways in order to pack in more comfortable seats.

I sat right behind the basket, but sadly near the Villanova band.  I know Erik touched on it already, but it was pretty strange to see a bunch of urban high school students wearing Purdue shirts playing our fight song with such low enthusiasm.  Not to knock the kids, I'm sure it was a great experience for them, and I'm thrilled they had the opportunity, but when comparing that to the Nova band which made the trip (along with their cheerleaders), it definitely felt like a road game, not a neutral site matchup.

When I arrived early to catch the second half of the Oregon State vs. Alabama game, I was shocked at how empty the arena was.  That was a comment I heard from fans throughout the night.  They see more people in the stands for city high school games.  There were a few Oregon State supporters, and a handful of Alabama red, but not much (and over 75% of the people there weren't even wearing apparel for any of the four teams playing).  There also weren't many Nova fans or Purdue fans, but it's NYC, there are plenty of things to do more fun than watching two college basketballs teams who you don't care about play.

During the intermission, all the Bama and OSU fans left, and I saw a lot of Purdue fans show up (unfortunately most weren't sitting near me, except I did see the alumni clubs of NYC and New Jersey there) and for a while I thought we'd outnumber Nova fans.  But I was wrong.  We weren't outnumbered that badly, but a lot of Nova fans showed up late and let's just say, I don't think much of their fanbase after this experience.

For the first half, with Villanova leading for the majority, the Wildcat fans were unenthusiastic, preoccupied with their conversations, and about the opposite vibe I'd expect from a college basketball game.  It felt more like a Knicks game, when half the people don't even care what's happening on the court.  Fortunately this wasn't the case for Purdue fans who were very into the game, but all that resulted in was annoying mocking by the Wildcat "faithless."

The Nova fans finally got into the game in the second half, only after Purdue took a lead and started playing more physical, which was responded in kind by the Wildcats vastly more thuggish play.  I'm going to be perfectly honest.  Many (not all) of the Villanova fans in attendance near me were douchebags.  I have nothing against the school, and I'm sure they have some really great fans, so maybe it's because I sat amid a subset of Villanova fans who live in New York City (and I work with some great New Yorkers, so it isn't an NYC thing).  They were crude, obnoxious, profane, and didn't really understand the game of basketball.  They heckled their own players, criticized the Purdue faithful for booing the refs (seriously?! Did they think the officials were good?!), and laughed when Terone was bodyslammed to the floor and smacked repeatedly in the head.  Disgraceful.

But the fans weren't as disgraceful as the referees.  Thanks to Jumbo Heroes, you can see links to the three officials who should all be suspended, including one who refs in the Big Ten, Bo Boroski, you sad, sad man with a ridiculous name (Bo-Bo, really?).  I sometimes pick on the refs too much, but in recent years I've tried to make sure I never blame them for a loss.  There are always things the Boilers could do to win despite poor officiating.  For last night's game, you could say that would have been scoring on the final possession of regulation, where Ronnie airballed a three-point attempt.  It's true, running the offense (which Matt Painter teams tend to be horrible at for game ending possessions) could have resulted in points and a win, but Villanova still would have had a chance to win or tie.

In this situation, blaming the refs for the loss is exactly the correct thing to do, that's how bad it was.  Erik texted me frequently to let me know that the TV announcers were as shocked and appalled as I was, but I don't think anyone watching on TV can fully understand the ineptitude we saw in person.  Throughout the first half, the officials were inconsistent and horrible for both teams.  Those games happen, and you fight through them, which is exactly what Purdue did, but then, once gaining the lead in the second half, it's almost like the three blind mice decided that it was in their best interest to do all they could to make the game close again and put Villanova on the free throw line.  The Boilers were bludgeoned, and I'm not using that term loosely.  The overtly physical fouls that were not called made me sick.  I'm not going to even get into the DJ Byrd flagrant, since Erik covered that already.  Despite if it was the right or wrong call by the letter of the law, it didn't match any of the calls made throughout the second half, as there would have been multiple flagrant fouls called on Villanova if the refs had been paying attention.  It made no sense, and their inability to properly evaluate the video replay should contribute to banning them from future games.

But to make matters worse, it wasn't just calling fouls that made the officiating so frustrating.  I counted six travelling violations on Villanova in the final five minutes that weren't called (I was sitting behind the basket they were shooting towards, not sure how obvious they were on TV), and even the Nova fans around me started laughing at the moves their players were getting away with. There was a plethora of moving screens, over the backs, and the list goes on and on.  I just don't understand how someone can perform so poorly at their job and that it is acceptable.  It ruins the integrity of the game, sport, and profession.

I'm done ranting. I'm proud of the Purdue fans that were present.  They were classy, cheered hard, and booed the referees mercilessly when it was quite deserved.  Here's hoping we get better officials against Oregon State today.  I'm sad that I'll be stuck on a plane and not there in person, but it's probably good for my faith in humanity to sit this one out.

Basketball Preview: Purdue vs. Oregon St. - November 16th - 5:00 pm - ESPN2 (channel change!)

It's a quick turnaround for Purdue as they got their hearts ripped out last night.  However, that doesn't mean tonight's game is any less important.  You can't call a game in mid-November a must-win, but this is as close as you can come.  Starting the season 1-3 with 3 losses against potential bubble teams would definitely hurt come March.

Why Purdue Will Win -  Purdue has more talent than Oregon State, but can they finally get over the hump in a close game?  After losing two close ones, the Boilers need to come out angry on defense and force Oregon State into numerous turnovers.  The Beavers committed 19 turnovers last night and still almost knocked off Alabama.  If Purdue forces 20, they'll win.

Why Oregon State Will Win -  This Oregon State team is better than a lot of Beaver teams in the past.  They have experience and an explosive scorer in Ahmad Starks.  Also, Devon Collier - a starter last year - scored 21 points off the bench last night and nearly willed the Beavers to a come back win against Alabama.  The Beavers have more size than Villanova, so expect the Boilers to have less success on the boards as well.  Finally, Angus Brandt is their senior 6-10 center from Australia.  No, he's not 300 pounds like you'd expect from someone named Angus, but he's nearly averaging a double-double in his first three games.  If Oregon State controls the glass and can play an offensively efficient game, the Beavers should pull this one out.

One thing you absolutely need to know before the game -  Despite nearly every pregame source stating this game is on ESPNU, I'm pretty sure this game is on ESPN2.  My online guide doesn't say, however according to the official ESPN TV listings, the game has been changed to ESPN2.  I wouldn't put my life savings on it (or even $32), but with many people recording a 5:00 pm game, I HIGHLY suggest recording both channels if possible.  Many providers now offer online DVR access, so logon and set that DVR!

Our Picks - We like to think we're better than Vegas.  So throughout the season, we'll be "betting" a whole dollar amount versus the spread between $1 and $32, but we can't repeat the same value twice. The spread for this game is Purdue by 1.

Erik's Bet: $6
Erik's Pick: Oregon St. 73 - Purdue 72

Kirk's Bet: $27
Kirk's Pick: Purdue 65 - Oregon State 63 (Kirk is 0-5 on picks so far - please don't let him be 0-6!)

Erik +71
Kirk -150

Values already bet
Erik 6, 12, 13, 14, 26, 32
Kirk 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32

Boiler up!

Basketball Recap: Villanova 89 - Purdue 81

It's the morning after and I still feel sore from the gut-punch that hit me last night.  Kirk was at the game and might do a special one-off post at some point, so I'm going to keep this one brief.

Look, bad calls happen.  They happen all the time.  Some are bigger than others and in the end they usually even out.  But what happened yesterday was just atrocious.  It was a collective "F-U, WE'RE GOING TO DECIDE THIS GAME" from the refs in an otherwise fun and exciting game - one where the Boilers showed a ton of heart and resiliency in coming back from a big deficit.  While the flagrant-1 on DJ Byrd got all the press, the officiating in the first half was simply horrible.  And while most of the second half could at least been labelled as "even", it all went downhill in the last minute of regulation.

And the Oscar goes to...Darrun Hilliard!
Let's discuss "The Call". 

- Jay Wright (Villanova's head coach) said he didn't see it and that he doesn't like the rule.

- Len Elmore (a pretty well-respected announcer) said "I STRONGLY disagree with that call" about a dozen times.

- James Bell (the guy who was 1-8 from 3-point range in regulation that all the sudden went off with two huge overtime 3's) mentioned, "I didn't see it, but I have to think the officials made the right call."

It was a flop.  Plain and simple.  Did Byrd touch him?  Possibly.  It's tough to tell, but if he did touch him, he grazed Hilliard's chin with his tricep.  Hilliard's head instinctively jerked back to avoid the contact.  Then, when seen on slow motion, his head actually moved forward again.  At that point he realized that he could draw a foul and fell to the floor.  I doubt that he was even thinking flagrant-1 while he was on the floor...he was just excited that he had drawn the foul.  If you get hit in the head hard enough to fall down, your head doesn't jerk back into place after the initial immediately goes back and takes the body with it.  So was it a foul?  If he grazed his chin, then technically, yes.  But Brian O'Connell, Bo Boroski, and Bert Smith made a mockery of the replay.  And that's why instead of feeling the joy of a great win today, it has been replaced with shock, disbelief, and a feeling that this is going to haunt us come March.

I wrote down a few notes during the game that I wanted to talk about after Purdue won.  Well, they didn't, but that doesn't mean these things still didn't happen:

Brian O'Connell - probably the worst of the three "officials" last night
- DJ Byrd played a roller-coaster of a game.  He really struggled in the first half and shot an airball on a forced three ball when Purdue was down 9 in the second.  Maybe it was Painter's ranting over that shot, but something clicked.  Byrd made two fantastic feeds inside and hit a huge three, erasing the 9 point deficit almost immediately. And just when it seemed like Villanova had taken control again, Byrd led another big run to put the Boilers up for (almost) the rest of regulation.  That's what we like to see, DJ!

- Free throw shooting was once again horrendous.  16-28 (57%) is not going to cut it, especially when the Wildcats shoot 33-41 (81%).  But boy was Villanova streaky from the line.  They started 12-14, then missed 5 consecutive free throws (including the front end of 2 one and ones) right when the Boilers made their run.  They then made 21 of their next 22 free throws.  Folks, that's how you win a game.

- I don't even want to put this point down, because the final possession in regulation (a forced air ball by Ronnie Johnson as the shot clock expired) was so miserable.  Why we were running down the clock in a tie game where Villanova was guaranteed to get the ball back was just mind-boggling.  Prior to that, however, the Boilers did something that I haven't seen from them in a long time.  They created shots with the lead in the last 3 minutes! They didn't hold the ball!  Ronnie Johnson created and drained a wide open 15-footer with 15 seconds left in the shot clock and just under 3:00 to go.  Then, with 1:30 left, Terone Johnson found a wide-open DJ Byrd under the basket for an uncontested layup.  I don't remember the last time Purdue attacked late in the game with the lead, but let's hope the trend continues.

- Loved seeing the "Purdue" band consisting of a bunch of 15-year-olds playing what I think was "Hot Cross Buns".  They were young, probably didn't know where Purdue was located, and were much more "diverse" than what you'd expect from a Midwestern school in the middle of corn fields.  But hey, they got a free t-shirt and cheered for Purdue, so thanks for representing!  Now bring "home" a win tonight - we really need it!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Broadcast Recap - Iowa Edition

I'm not one to normally toot my own horn (Kirk may disagree with this statement), but boy have you guys been treated to some amazing predictions by yours truly.  In fact, I'd argue if that you remove all of Kirk's predictions from the last several weeks, this blog might be known as the most accurate prognosticating blog in all of college sports!  Not only have I picked all 4 basketball games correctly against the spread, but I also totally called the screenshot of the week...

Screenshot of the week:  Loyal readers may remember the Purdue-Iowa preview in which Steve Bigach was featured as the Player we're most concerned about since their stock photo may break our TV.  Well sure enough, my TV has not been the same since Bigach was named the Marine Corps' Leader of The Game.  Check out the ugly stock photo in the screenshot of the week!

Thing I learned from BTN: Nothing.  Now, I don't normally learn much from BTN, but did anyone actually stay home and watch the game live?  It was 70 degrees outside (plus nobody wanted to sit through 3 1/2 hours of another potential blowout), so I, along with Boiler Nation, watched the game on DVR.  And boy was it glorious!  No horrible announcing.  No watching highlights of a no-hitter that BTN was lucky enough to televise every single commercial break.  No J Leman. And a Purdue win. What a great Saturday!

Announcer complaint:  Since I didn't really hear much of the announcing for the game, I'm going to pick apart the BTDN announcers who were particularly bad.  Let's point out the more obvious:

1) Reading the 4-minute pregame discussion as if it was the first time they'd ever seen it;
2) A horrendous lead in to the "sideline reporter", who in turn treated her segment as if it was her first time in front of the camera (I believe at one point she mentioned Purdue has a "chance" at winning when up 30 with 5 minutes to go);
3) Every single shot was a "great" shot, regardless of if it was an air ball or not;
4) They said things like "I've got Johnson's on my brain!".

Comment of the Week - Wife Edition:  "Maybe he should have been the kicker all along!"

Preview: Purdue vs. Illinois - November 17th - 3:30pm - BTN

With two games left to play, Purdue heads to Illinois on Saturday to face the dreadful Illini.  A loss to Illinois would be devastating: not only would it rule out a bowl game, but Purdue would officially take over the title as worst team in the conference.  Illinois is simply a bad team, and there is no excuse to lose to them.

Why Purdue wins
Didn't you just read that above?  Illinois is horrible with both an inept offense and defense.  Purdue has more talent (although that hasn't resulted in many wins this year), and *shudder* maybe even better coaches right now.  The players apparently love Hope, and a lose this week would let him down in the worst way possible as he'd likely be fired immediately (instead of getting fired after the Bucket game, win or lose).

Why Illinois wins 
I only see two ways Illinois can win this game:
1. Gary Nord returns to the sidelines and proceeds to bring back the offensive suck that was missing last week against Iowa
2. Purdue turns the ball over and makes stupid mistakes.  If the Illini can force some picks or fumbles to give their offense great field position, maybe they have a shot.

Player we're most concerned about since their stock photo may break our TV

Purdue may be in for trouble, because the Illini have Bain...Robbie Bain.

Also, can we just bask in the glory that is DeJazz Woods.  I want to meet that guy's parents.

Picks of the week
Since Erik and I are both home owners who like the challenge of fixing something, this week we're betting the cost-savings of a recent do-it-yourself repair.  Purdue is favored by 6

Kirk's Bet
My biggest DIY activity to date was finishing my basement, but since a cost-savings of $15,000+ really isn't appropriate for this situation, I'll tone it down.  A bit ago my hot water heater started leaking and I thought it would be a fun time to learn about plumbing and gas lines.  After a few mistakes (fortunately with the plumbing, not the gas), I had it all figured out and was able to save at least $200 (Lowe's charges more than that for the install, but I definitely took a good part of a day to do it all, and my time's valuable, too!)

Earlier this season I committed to betting against Purdue with the spread for the remainder of the season.  So I was very disappointed to see the Boilers only favored by six points, since I don't think there's much of a chance of Illinois making the game that close.  But I'll stay faithful to my promise, even if it means losing to Erik.  Purdue 24 - Illinois 20

Erik's Bet (in his own words, which I'm sure he's pleased I'm reprinting here)

My last do-it-yourself repair involved fixing the electricity to the two outlets in the garage.  After trying every fuse in the basement, I figured something was wrong since we still didn't have electricity in the garage.  Fast-forward to a few days later.  With an electrician scheduled to come over the next day for what I’m sure was at least a $100 call, I was taking a whiz in the bathroom that shares a wall with the garage.  During this whiz, I noticed an electrical socket in the bathroom that had one of those reset buttons on it.  Realizing that this could be the answer and REALLY excited, I forgot what I was doing and ran over to hit the reset button mid-stream.  Sure enough, this was it – the garage sockets worked!!!  I don’t think I've been more excited since – although I did have to quickly clean up the mess in the bathroom before I told my wife.  It saved $99 ($100 for the call minus $1 for the Lysol and paper towels).

Erik's not expecting the Boiler offense to have any trouble: Purdue 48 - Illinois 28

Three Final Things

1. Yes, this is the worst game-preview yet.  It's really just a glorified boast about home repair.  If Purdue doesn't bring home the cannon, I'm going to probably break something.

2. I'm late to watch the Alabama - Oregon State game before the Boilers take on Villanova, so that's why I'm cutting this short.  I couldn't be more excited to see Purdue at Madison Square Garden.

3. Boiler Up!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Basketball Preview: Purdue vs. Villanova - November 15th - 9:30 pm - ESPN2

The Boilers head to the Big Apple this week to take on Villanova in the 2K Sports Classic.  I love these early season tournaments because they feature some fun match-ups you'd never see otherwise (enjoyed watching Duke beat Kentucky and Michigan State take down Kansas tonight).

Overall, there seem to be a lot in common between Purdue and Villanova.  Both teams feature a lot of young players yet have decent size that allows for different lineups.  Last season, Villanova had a rough go of it, with only 13 wins, which include a mere four in conference play, and they lost two leading scorers, similar to the Boilers.  This early in the year, each team has a lot of inconsistency as players are trying to define their roles and freshmen adjust to the college game.  I expect it to be a close battle and not necessarily a pretty game.

Why Purdue Will Win -  Because I flipped a coin and heads came up. Villanova can get into problems with their turnovers, so if Purdue can get over the spectacle of MSG and not make stupid mistakes, they have a shot.  It'll take strong leadership from Terone and DJ to overcome the freshmen jitters, and Purdue's slate of big men will have to play strong interior defense and win the rebound battle.

Why Villanova Will Win -  Because I flipped a coin and tails came up.  Villanova does a good job getting to the basket and drawing contact.  They make those fouls hurt their opponent even more by shooting a high percentage from the line.  Purdue has the athleticism to keep up with the Wildcats, but the traditional Boiler defense hasn't been as beastly as years past.  Villanova is more used to this environment and is playing closer to home, so if they can limit their turnovers and continue to attack, then it could be a long night for Painter and crew.

One thing you absolutely need to know before the game -  Look for yours truly going crazy in the stands during the game.  I'm quite excited to be in New York for some work events that happened to coincide with Thursday's game.  Unfortunately I won't be going to Friday's game, but seeing the Boilers at Madison Square Garden is going to be lots of fun.  I'm interested to see how many Purdue fans turn out, since tickets weren't very expensive and Villanova has a significant home crowd advantage.

Our Picks - We like to think we're better than Vegas.  So throughout the season, we'll be "betting" a whole dollar amount versus the spread between $1 and $32, but we can't repeat the same value twice. The spread for this game hasn't been listed yet - intrigue! It seems like the point spreads don't come out until the day before the game, and we want to get you, our dear readers, have these previews to read further ahead of time. We'll assume it's a toss up game to Vegas. [UPDATE: Spread is Purdue by 1.5 - Erik doesn't want his undefeated record tainted by a fake spread...he's also updated his bet accordingly.]

Erik's Bet: $13
Erik's Pick: Purdue 72 - Villanova 63

Kirk's Bet: $28
Kirk's Pick: Purdue 67 - Villanova 65

Erik +84
Kirk -122

Values already bet
Erik 12, 13, 14, 26, 32
Kirk 28, 29, 30, 31, 32

Boiler up!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Big Ten Football Power Rankings - Week 11

With only two games left, the rankings are getting a little easier, but there's still the chance for upheaval at the top.  I told you there'd be two great games featuring sequential teams in the rankings, and they certainly didn't disappoint.  #2 played #3 with a close result in a hard-fought game, and the game featuring #4 vs. #5 went to overtime.  Of course I'm in a much cheerier mood this week thanks to Purdue's victory on the road in Iowa coupled with Indiana's crushing defeat to Wisconsin at home.

On to the rankings, where Saturday sports no longer suck:

1.   Ohio State (10-0, 6-0 conference) [Last week's rank: 1

The Buckeyes had a bye week, but obviously remain undefeated and the top team in the conference.  Odds of that changing in the next two weeks? Higher than you may think.  OSU still has to face Wisconsin on the road and Michigan at home.  If they lose both and Michigan wins out, it could shake things up.  Thanks to convincing wins over Nebraska and Penn State, that leapfrog won't happen.

2.   Nebraska (8-2, 5-1) [Last week's rank: 2]

Last week I wrote about how Nebraska just keeps winning games after coming from behind.  Taylor Martinez is the king of the fourth quarter.  The Huskers beat Penn State thanks to 26 second-half points.  The division title is theirs to lose with easily winnable games against Minnesota and Iowa left on the schedule.  I think a Nebraska/Wisconsin title game will be a fun one to watch, but I doubt the Cornholes will have to come from behind in that one..

3.   Michigan (7-3, 5-1) [Last week's rank: 4]

Michigan also had to come from behind to force overtime where they topped Northwestern.  I don't think they'll catch Nebraska, especially without Denard Robinson.

4.   Penn State (6-4, 4-2) [Last week's rank: 3

Penn State had the lead but froze up against Nebraska.  While I was watching this game, I thought the negated Penn State touchdown was a fumble when I watched in real time.  After watching the replay, I wasn't so sure, and because of that, I felt the call on the field should stand.  But even though the Lions got hosed, they still crapped the bed the rest of the game as McGloin made a stupid mistake to get flagged for a safety (no doubt about that being the correct call) and they couldn't stop Nebraska on defense.  There is absolutely no conspiracy, there was just a very questionable call, and the fact that Penn State fans are acting like the world is out to get them is ridiculous and shows their priorities are still a bit unbalanced.

5.   Wisconsin (7-3, 4-2) [Last week's rank: 6

Even with their huge win against Indiana (564 rushing yards!) I still have trouble ranking Wisconsin this high since they haven't beaten anyone good.  The Badgers real test will be against Penn State and Ohio State in their final two games.  They can prove me wrong by winning one of them, but we may see a 4-4 conference team in the title game and headed to a marquis bowl game with a 7-6 overall record.

6.   Northwestern (7-3, 3-3) [Last week's rank: 5]

The Wildcats lost a heartbreaker to Michigan in overtime, but it just fit their theme for the season: beat the bad teams, but lose narrowly to the good ones.  They've lost to Michigan in OT, Nebraska by one point, and Penn State by eleven points.  Even with their pretty record, this season is a case of what could have been.  Fortunately they'll still get one more win against Illinois, but their game next week at Michigan State is how a toss-up.

7.   Michigan State (5-5, 2-4) [Last week's rank: 7]

Sparty had their bye week and need to beat Northwestern or Minnesota to get bowl eligible.  They're currently in last place in the Legends division, which no one predicted prior to the season.  What a disappointment.

8.   Minnesota (6-4, 2-4) [Last week's rank: 10]   

Minnesota did their Big Ten duty and beat the horrible Illini, and in the process became bowl eligible.  This is a big deal since the Gophers finish against Nebraska and Michigan State, both games they will probably lose.

9.   Purdue (4-6, 1-5) [Last week's rank: 11

Eureka!  With winnable games against Illinois and Indiana, there's still hope for a bowl game.  Of course, the Boilers could very easily lose both those games, but here's hoping Hope goes out on a high note.

10.  Indiana (4-6, 2-4) [Last week's rank: 8]  

It feels good to laugh at IU football again, and to laugh at all the annoying people in Indianapolis that thought the conference title game would feature the Hoosiers.  They were exposed horribly as Wisconsin racked up 564 yards rushing.  The badgers only had to throw the ball seven times, a tactic the Boilers should note.  Can't wait for the Bucket game, and hopefully IU will be even more abused by Penn State in the meantime.

11.  Iowa (4-6, 2-4) [Last week's rank: 9]     

The Hawkeyes out-Purdued the Boilers and now must beat Michigan and Nebraska to get bowl-eligible.  That's not happening.

12.  Illinois (2-8, 0-6) [Last week's rank: 12]

Another loss, but at least Illini fans can enjoy basketball season now!  Oh wait, nevermind.