Sunday, December 30, 2012

Heart of Dallas Bowl Preview: Purdue vs. Oklahoma State - January 1st - Noon - ESPNU

Wow.  Think about how much has changed since our most recent football preview a little over a month ago.  The football team has a new coach that has excited fans, recruits, and administrators and has injected some much needed life into the program.  Meanwhile, everyone was looking forward to a men's basketball season that's now turned into a big pile of mediocrity.  If I had told you at the beginning of November that the Purdue fanbase would be more excited for a bowl game than the start of the Big Ten basketball season, you would have called me crazy.  But judging from the general pulse of Boilermaker fans, that's exactly where we stand right now.

It's Pistol Pete versus Purdue Pete.  A Re-Pete of the 1997 Alamo Bowl.  Let's get pumped!

Why Purdue wins
Patrick Higgins has received rave reviews since he was named Interim Head Coach for the Boilermakers.  Whether he remains on Darrell Hazell's staff is yet to be seen, but it appears Higgins is making a name for himself in assistant coaching circles.  Every assistant coach at Purdue will initially be let go after the game, so I'm sure many people will be watching how they handle this one. 

While the Purdue coaching staff is anything but stable, Oklahoma State is going through a transition of their own.  The Cowboys have lost offensive coordinator Todd Monken to the Southern Mississippi head coaching job, so head coach Mike Gundy will be pulling double duty.  Third string quarterback Clint Chelf took hold of the starting position after injuries to their top two quarterbacks and has played well enough to earn the start for the Cowboys in the bowl game, although Wes Lunt and J.W. Walsh could see some playing time as well.  All three quarterbacks are interception prone, so expect Ricardo Allen and Josh Johnson to cheat and go after the pick six.  After all, how many stops do you really think this team will come up with?  Might as well go for the big play.

Speaking of big plays, expect the Boilers to go for some huge ones.  The Cowboy pass defense is horrible, and Patrick Higgins has already hinted at some excitement:
“Of course, we'll have a few surprises,” Higgins says with a smile. “You've got to. Heck, maybe a trick play every other play.”
Expect a fun one if the Boilers can stick around.

Oklahoma State has scored at least 30 points in every game except one this year (a 20-14 win over Kansas), but perhaps the coordinator change could slow down the Cowboys' potent offense. Plus if the Purdue players rally around their outgoing coaches and the defense can come up with a few turnovers, Purdue could pull off the shocker of the bowl season.

Why Oklahoma State wins 
While I pretty much had to write a book to explain why the Boilermakers will win, I don't have to do that with the Cowboys.  Did you see how I glossed over how Oklahoma State has scored at least 30 points in 11 out of 12 games?  Sure those games were against Big 12 defenses, but Purdue's defense hasn't proven to be much better.  Meanwhile, since the Big Ten season started, Purdue has scored 30 points ONE time - the 56-35 win over Indiana.  If you were looking reason this game is expected to be the biggest blowout of the bowl season, that's it.  

Player we're most concerned about since their stock photo may break our TV
Starting center Evan Epstein is growing his hair out for Locks of Love.  While we here at have never been ones to discourage charitable hair growth, there comes a time when you actually need to make the donation.  The time has come, Evan.  Make the donation.  Unfortunately, that still won't keep this ugly stock photo from showing up on your tv.  Is his hair photo-shopped in?

Picks of the week
As you may remember from the IU preview, we "bet" any value up to the cost of the most expensive sporting ticket we’ve ever purchased.  To keep things interesting in the overall standings, if Purdue made a bowl game, we'd have to double whatever we bet for that game.  Well, due to poor planning, Kirk pointed out that his pick no longer matters.  Pressure's on! I'm currently ahead $172 to $119.50, so a win or a push in this one gives me the championship.  The spread is Purdue -17.

Erik’s Bet 
I'm required to bet double my $220 2007 NBA Finals Game 3 ticket between the Cavs and the Spurs.  I'm glad we're not actually betting this amount - $440 is a ton of money to put on a Purdue team that gets blown out a lot!

Erik’s Pick 
Purdue pulls out all the stops - a fake punt, a double-reverse pass, and an onside kick.  It's not enough, but the Boilers make it exciting in the last game before the Darrell Hazell era.  Oklahoma St 48 – Purdue 44

Kirk’s Bet 
Kirk will now be betting the full value of his $200 Final Four ticket from 2010.

Kirk’s Pick 
Kirk really wants to pick Purdue 999 - Oklahoma State 0, but he just can't pull the trigger on it.  Instead, he apparently forgot his vow to always bet against Purdue after they burned him one too many times. Oklahoma St 45 – Purdue 35

Three Final Things
1) It's impossible to do a preview of Oklahoma State without a link to one of the all-time great rants in press conference history.  Do yourself a favor and watch head coach Mike Gundy's "I'm A Man" speech.

2) I didn't give the defense much credit, although Bruce Gaston, Kawann Short, and Ryan Russell struggled with injuries this year.  They're apparently healthier than they've been all season, so look for Purdue's defensive line to step up with a big game.

3) Boiler Up!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Basketball Preview: Purdue vs. William & Mary - December 29th - 2:00 pm - ESPN3

Tomorrow is a celebration of lasts:
- The last game of 2012!
- The last game before Big Ten Season starts!
- The last choppy internet feed of the year!!!

Let's hope it's also the last time we have to worry about a so-so mid-major potentially beating us at home for many years.

Not the same Tribe, but I couldn't resist!

Why Purdue Will Win
Rest does a body good.  It also lets it stew.  The Boilers, picked by many to be a bubble team, haven't even begun to make the soapy mixture yet.  After 5 close losses and one blowout, expect the players (especially senior DJ Byrd) to have spent this long break thinking over and over about how the season has got away from them.  All is not lost though as the Boilers will be given plenty of chances to knock off top teams in the Big Ten season.  They just can't afford yet another loss to a marginal team.   

Luckily, William & Mary has nobody to match up with AJ Hammons.  Tim Rusthoven will most likely guard Hammons, but he typically struggles with foul trouble.  If Rusthoven gets a few fouls early, the Tribe will need to dig deeper than their normal seven-man rotation, leaving Purdue with a sizeable talent advantage.  The Boilers should be able to dominate the boards and come up with a win.

Why William & Mary Will Win
This isn't a bad mid-major.  The CAA is down this year, but the Tribe is definitely in the top half of the conference.  The Tribe doesn't have any good wins, however they don't have any horrible losses either (they've lost close games to Richmond, Wake Forest, and Miami-OH).  Also, add Purdue's poor shooting to the fact that William & Mary holds teams to 24% from the three point line and Purdue will definitely not be able to shoot themselves back into the game.  If William & Mary gets out to an early lead and keeps the game low scoring, Purdue could be in deep trouble.

One thing you absolutely need to know before the game 
According to Yahoo! Sports, William & Mary is coming off an 82-47 win over Salisbury St.  I'm not positive what the "St." stands for, but I can only assume it stands for Steak.  The only type of steak that was ever served in my school system, salisbury steak always had the stigma of being pretty disgusting.  However, further research shows that they actually changed their name from Salisbury State to simply Salisbury University in 2001, mainly due to people making stupid salisbury steak jokes like myself.  Seriously.  This is from the news release about the name change taken directly from Salisbury's website:
On a more visceral level, the University's name has long been the butt of the Salisbury "steak" jokes. Christine Pelletier, SSU SGA president, was affronted by the "sophomoric" play on words at a recent student leadership conference she and several student senators attended in Texas. "Salisbury State has a growing academic reputation which is unfortunately somewhat compromised by stupid jokes about its name," said Pelletier. "I heartily endorse the change to Salisbury University."

My memory of salisbury steak.

Somebody should tell Yahoo! that they're using a name that's out of date by eleven years.  And somebody should tell Christine Pelletier that "sophomoric" should be more like "3rd-gradic".  It won't keep me from making fun of them though.

Also, two William & Mary players are from Bloomington, Indiana.  Ben Whitlatch (Bloomington South) will most likely not play except in garbage time, but expect Julian Boatner (Bloomington North) to get a couple minutes on the court.  Boo them both. Loudly.

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 -11.5.

Erik's Bet: $17
Erik's Pick: Purdue 63 - William & Mary 55

Kirk's Bet: $19
Kirk's Pick: Purdue 66 - Ball State 52

Erik +219 (11-2 Against The Spread)
Kirk -68 (6-7 Against The Spread)

Values already bet
Erik 3, 6, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17, 21, 25, 26, 27, 30, 31, 32
Kirk 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Basketball Recap: Purdue 66 - Ball State 56

8,008 people were there to watch Purdue knock off the Cardinals and about 10 others watched it online.  ESPN was so excited by this game that they didn't sell a single commercial.  While it made the game more bearable to watch (I've still got the Chase Ink Bold commercial stuck in my head from the Eastern Michigan game), this still wasn't a particularly interesting game.  In fact, the only emotion I felt all game was dread when Jesse Berry hit the three pointer to take the lead with 9 1/2 minutes to go - and it felt like those present felt the same way.  Luckily the Boilers finished strong and pulled out the win against a team that lost to Indiana 101-53 earlier this season.

Kirk's preview called it - Berry takes a lot of shots!
While Berry led Ball State with 22 points, the key to the win was holding our favorite Cardinal, Majok Majok, to 6 points and only one field goal.  AJ Hammons led the Boilers with a quiet 15 points, but his biggest contribution was his defense on Majok.  Ball State's inability to feed the ball inside forced Berry to take 20 shots and ultimately cost the Cardinals a chance at the upset.

Despite the close score, it was a pretty boring game.  The only other thing really worth mentioning was the unique double foul on Jacob Lawson and Marcus Posley with 12 minutes left in the second half.  On the play, Lawson was called for the block AND Posley was called for the charge.  There's absolutely no way this is possible, but Ted Valentine stubbornly refused to change his mind and 5 minutes later (due to a tv timeout), the strange call was made.  While I agree it was a close call, this was classic Teddy.

The only other interesting thing was my nearly perfect prediction of Purdue 65-Ball State 55.  I know you all were keeping a close eye on that score!  I think we should come up with something embarrassing the other person has to do if they pick a "perfect game"...leave your ideas in the comments section!  Kirk inches closer to even, but still has a lot of catching up to do...

Updated Standings:
Erik +219 (11-2 Against The Spread)
Kirk -68 (6-7 Against The Spread)

Boiler Up!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings - Pre-Conference

It's six weeks into the basketball season, and I just realized we hadn't posted any power rankings.  Consider it sheer coincidence that these rankings begin at a very convenient time which saves me from having to post a photo of happy IU fans.  I mean, I don't want to scare all the readers away or make the blog so visually unappealing that it induces vomiting.

I know you all greatly enjoyed our football power rankings, and we'll try to keep these updated weekly during the conference season.  With the depth of talent in the Big Ten this year, I expect some clear separation between the haves and have-nots, but the road to the top is going to be a difficult one.

On to the rankings, where, for at least one week, I'm a huge fan of Blue:

1.   Michigan (12-0, RPI: 3)

Creepy coach is getting the job done
Much like my football rankings, undefeated teams always get the benefit of the doubt, especially so far into the current season.  And Michigan isn't undefeated because they've played cupcakes; they are the legitimate top team in the conference right now (and the pundits agree) with wins against Pitt, Kansas State, NC State, Arkansas, and West Virginia.  Trey Burke is having an all-conference (if not All-American) year averaging 18 points and 7 assists per game, and with little Hardaway, little Big Dog, Stauskas, and McGary, they have a lot of ways to beat you offensively.

2.   Illinois (12-0, RPI: 5)

Consider me shocked at how good Illinois is playing.  I thought this would be a rebuilding year with new coach John Groce and a roster that lost its starting center to the NBA, didn't bring in any new talent, and lost 15 games last season. But Brandon Paul is lighting it up, and the team is playing inspired with double-digit wins over Butler and at Gonzaga.  Of course, this same Illini team won their first ten games last season before turning on the suck, but for now they are rolling.  Also, how bad does this make Bruce Weber look?

3.   Indiana (10-1, RPI: 16)

Although it pains me to admit it, right now Indiana probably has the best chance of all the conference teams to make the Final Four.  Do I think they're a shoe-in for the national title, as many did before a single game was played?  Heck no, and Butler can tell you why, but IU is incredibly talented and deep averaging over 93 points per game.  They won't face another real test in conference play for almost a month, and their first difficult road game isn't until February (at Illinois, which may not be as difficult by then).  Look for them to rise to the top of the rankings soon, but their final month is pretty brutal, and we all know the NCAA selection committee weights those final 10 games very heavily.

4.   Ohio State (9-1, RPI: 38)

I'm still not sold on this OSU team being ranked as highly as they are nationally, since I think they are not nearly as good as previous Buckeye rosters, but they are sneaky good featuring a lot of solid four and three-star recruits playing better than expected.  They've only been tested once, losing narrowly on the road at Duke, which is quite impressive, but they haven't played any other halfway decent teams.  This weekend they host Kansas which should be a fun game to watch.  Deshaun Thomas is a beast averaging over 20 points per game, and I really wish I had been correct thinking he was headed to the NBA early last year after a terrific late-season push.

5.   Minnesota (11-1, RPI: 13)

Like Ohio State, the Gophers also credit their only loss this season to Duke, but unlike OSU, Minnesota lost badly at home to the Blue Devils, so they fall to fifth based on that common opponent measure.  However, Minnesota is much more battle-tested with strong road wins against Memphis, Stanford, Florida State, and USC.  They have balanced scoring led by Andre Hollins and Rodney Williams, but they need to cut down on their team turnovers (16 per game, second worst in conference to only MSU).

6.   Michigan State (10-2, RPI: 44)

Another season where Michigan State starts decent, but a little weak, but expect them to get better and better as the year progresses - because Izzo gets them prepared for march every single season.  As mentioned above, the Spartans average the most turnovers in the conference, and they've definitely looked sloppy. In their three biggest games this season, they lost to UConn at a neutral site and on the road at Miami, but they were able to topple Kansas on another neutral court.  Much to the chagrin of Boilermaker faithful, Gary Harris and Brendan Dawson are both having great seasons, shooting 50% and 57% respectively, while playing well with Appling, Payne, and Nix.  Purdue could sure have used shooters like that, but screw those guys.

7.   Iowa (10-2, RPI: 56)

After seemingly turning the corner last season, the Hawkeyes are continuing to show flashes of potential and that they may finally be relevant in the conference.  They haven't beaten anyone too challenging yet, with losses to Wichita State at home and Virginia Tech on the road, but I expect them to upset a few of the teams in the top half of the conference this season.  Playing in Iowa City is no longer a gimme thanks to guys like Roy Marble and Aaron White, the best thing to ever come out of Strongsville, Ohio (right Erik?).

8.   Wisconsin (7-4, RPI: 126)

It feels very strange putting the Badgers this low since Wisconsin has only finished out of the top four in conference play once in the last twelve years. They've played a tough schedule with wins against Arkansas and California but losses against Florida, Creighton, Virginia, and Marquette.  Bo Ryan's group of "Goofy White Boys and the High Top Fade" (yes, that's an excellent band name) will probably still make noise, but I don't see them weaseling their way into the top half of the conference this year.  The team isn't shooting particularly well (still better than Purdue though), and we all know Wisconsin causes match-up problems when all their lengthy guys can shoot.  Maybe if point guard Josh Gasser hadn't been lost to an ACL injury, they'd have a shot, but Bo's proven me wrong many times before.

9.  Purdue (5-6, RPI: 176)

The Boilers have be far the lowest RPI in conference, but I've placed them ninth more as a result of the team's below them than anything good Purdue has done on the court.  It's going to be a long season, and we'll just have to watch for the development of the younger players for glimmers of hope.

10.  Northwestern (8-3, RPI: 73)

I always want to root for Northwestern.  Maybe it's because I grew up near their campus and appreciate their academics, or maybe it's just out of pity, but I'd love to see them make an NCAA tourney.  Unfortunately, with leader Drew Crawford out for the season with a labrum tear, it's' not going to happen.  Until that critical loss, I would have definitely ranked them higher (probably 8th), but for the rest of the season, I don't see much good happening in Evanston.  Reggie Hearn is a nice player, but put the Wildcats in the same boat as Purdue - they're going to have trouble scoring and will lack leadership.

11.   Penn State (6-4, RPI: 135)

Even though Penn State has a better record, better RPI, and beat a common opponent with Purdue (Bucknell), I don't think they're a better team.  They've lost by 25 or more points to La Salle, Akron, and NC State and barely beat some bad teams.  At least Purdue's games have been closer.  Without star Tim Frazier (lost for the season to a ruptured Achilles tendon), it's all downhill from here.  What does it say about Purdue that the only schools below the Boilers in the power rankings have both lost their top player for the season?

12.  Nebraska (7-3, RPI: 66)

Oh wait, I forgot about Nebraska.  Sorry, you still don't really count as a Big Ten basketball school yet, but enjoy your bowl game that isn't the Rose Bowl in the sport you do care about.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Basketball Preview: Purdue vs. Ball State - December 18th - 7:00 pm - ESPN3

We all know that Ball State football is hard for a Big Ten team to beat, but the Cardinals' basketball team is in a different situation when they head to West Lafayette to face the Boilers on Tuesday night.

Why Purdue Will Win
Ball State is 5-4 and hasn't beaten even a mediocre team.  They lost by almost 50 points to Indiana and 20 points to Indiana State.  There's no excuse to lose this game, and as long as the Boilers don't shoot under 35% or get in ridiculous foul trouble, they'll win.  Look to see them drive, drive, and drive the ball inside to help avoid their shooting ails.  Can Ray Davis score 20 points again?  I hope he'll get the playing time to try.

Why Ball State Will Win
Purdue is 4-6 and has only beaten one relevant team (Clemson). They have the size to match up with the Boilers, and they can be a strong rebounding team that plays with lots of energy, albeit short of talent.  If the Cardinals can close the lane and force Purdue to take contested shots inside or long jumpers, then we all know it could be a very, very long night.

One thing you absolutely need to know before the game 
My favorite person at Ball State, and arguably their best all-around player, is Majok Majok.  His name alone produces fond memories of former Wisconsin Badger Duany Duany, and allows him to join the ranks of double-named sports personalities like Yang Yang, Li Li, Samoa Samoa, and Jose Jose.  His full name is Majok Maker Majok (his father's name is Maker), which is even cooler, and I'm sure he's got a harrowing back-story, hailing from Sudan via Australia.

Also know that I'm very, very sick of Purdue losing.  And have fun watching the game on the poor-resolution feed on (try to mute the commercials, they are so annoying).

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 -15.5.

Erik's Bet: $21
Erik's Pick: Purdue 65 - Ball State 55

Kirk's Bet: $20
Kirk's Pick: Purdue 70 - Ball State 57

Erik +198 (10-2 ATS)
Kirk -88 (5-7 ATS)

Values already bet
Erik 3, 6, 11, 12, 13, 14, 25, 26, 27, 30, 31, 32
Kirk 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32


Basketball Recap: Notre Dame 81 - Purdue 68

You know what's really fun?  Being on vacation and not having to sit through a Purdue loss.

You know what's not fun?  Forcing yourself to watch every minute of a game you know Purdue already lost, just so you can write about it.  This blog doesn't allow me to be blissfully ignorant.

This picture is far better looking than the game
On Saturday, Purdue lost in the Crossroads Classic to Notre Dame, the first time the teams have met in the regular season since 46 years ago.  It sure would have been nice to play this game during a year when the Boilers were respectable.  Going into the season, most fans expected this game to be a loss, but good teams still show up and play, even when they are big underdogs.

Watching the game, I don't think it would have been that enjoyable even if I didn't know the eventual outcome.  The first half was sloppy and littered with ugly basketball on both ends, but despite Notre Dame shooting a high percentage, it was a close contest. With about six minutes left, Purdue had cut the Belligerent Irish lead to four points, partly thanks to a technical foul on Mike Brey and two DJ Byrd free throws.  But after a missed alley-oop, a missed three pointer, and giving up an easy layup in transition, the Boilers never got closer the rest of the way.

The same frustrating things continue to plague the Boilers, and while learning takes time, I just hope that two months from now some of the problems have been addressed and players are developing - even if that means Purdue is still losing.  Let's post the "what went wrong" list again:

  • Poor offense/shooting: Omitting Ray Davis (more about him later), the team shot 33% from the field.  That's really horrible, painful to watch, and makes Purdue look worse than a mid-major team.
  • Poor second half start: It took the Boilers ten minutes to score four points in the second half.  Yes, they were on pace for eight points in the entire half.  Pitiful.  During that time, ND scored 18 points, and Purdue committed five fouls, three turnovers, and missed thirteen shots.
  • Poor defense: The team had trouble closing out on ND's shooters, although they played scrappy at times, and the big men didn't play strong defense inside, giving up lots of buckets in the paint.
  • Poor free throw shooting?: We've harped on this all season, but the Boilers actually made 74% of their free throws.  That's a fantastic improvement, and Ronnie Johnson was the only one that shot them poorly (50%)
  • Poor rebounding: the good guys were out-rebounded by nine, but that's what happens when you shoot so poorly
The only good news?  The guys didn't let Scott Martin make much of an offensive impact (5 points on 2 of 8 shooting)!  Hooray.

OK, I lied, that's not the only good news.  The real silver lining is that Ray Davis had an outstanding second half, scoring all 21 of his points on 8 of 9 shooting in less than ten minutes.  After the Boilers had gone over nine minutes with only two second-half points, Davis took over.  And this wasn't against scrubs: ND only goes seven guys deep, so it was against starters.  Davis made Scott Martin look old and slow a few times, but that's not surprising, since Martin is exactly that. Other than just being on fire hitting contested shots, Davis did his damage mostly by taking the ball inside and using his physicality. I think someone's earned some more playing time, and I can't wait to see it. 

Here are some awkward photos I found online, because they feel fitting right now.

Lamaze class.  Congratulations, it's a basketball, but who's the father? 
Simpson takes a break for Tae Bo practice.
Lawson is really good at playing the copycat game

Standings Update
Although we both expected Notre Dame to win, Erik mistakenly thought it would be a close game, so he takes a ding against his near-perfect record this season, moving to 10-2 against my 5-7 record.  I'm still going to lose a lot of money this season.

Erik +198
Kirk -88

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Basketball Preview: Purdue vs. Notre Dame - December 15th - 4:30 pm - ESPN2

Purdue and enjoyed much needed week off last week!  Let's hope both of us can come out of this break with a renewed focus on kicking ass.  It all starts Saturday in Indianapolis...

Notre Dame and Scott Martin - two things that don't make us very happy.

Why Purdue Will Win
You know deep down that this Purdue team can compete with just about anyone.  They can also lose to just about anyone.  The week off came at a perfect time after Purdue suffered the shockingly awful loss up in Ypsilanti last Saturday.  One may worry about our less than stellar performances on neutral floors this year, but Notre Dame's sole loss came to St. Joeseph's in the Coaches vs. Cancer classic.  Oh, by the way, St. Joe's just lost to Villanova.  You know Byrd will struggle as "Fighting Irish" is technically human (and not a non-bird animal), but expect Painter to have rallied the rest of the troops as he finally gets his chance to knock off soon-to-be grandpa and enemy of Purdue, Scott Martin.

Why Notre Dame Will Win
Notre Dame is on a huge roll, winning 6 straight including an impressive victory against Kentucky.  However, they've amazingly played only one game in the last 16 days.  When you're playing well, the last thing you want is a huge break.  Expect Notre Dame to come out rested, but sloppy, cooling down their leading scorer and big man, Jack Cooley.  Unfortunately, Notre Dame mainly plays a seven man rotation and with all of them averaging at least 6.9 shots per game, they have a lot of weapons.  Expect one of them to go off (please please please don't let it be Scott Martin) - we're banking on it being Jerian Grant.

One thing you absolutely need to know before the game 
Ok, we've taken some shots at Scott Martin, but casual or new fans may not really remember who he is.  Scott Martin was part of the Baby Boilers class and was considered as good of a recruit as any of them. His freshman year was off and on, and he became a very solid sixth man as a freshman.  Unfortunately, Martin came across as unhappy about his playing time, and whether it was jealousy of former high school teammate Robbie Hummel's success, a falling out with Matt Painter, or wanting to be closer to his girlfriend in Michigan (???), Martin decided to transfer to Notre Dame.  Looking back on it, a healthy team of Hummel, Johnson, Moore, and Martin in the 2010-2011 season would have been the HEAVY favorite to win the National Championship.    Martin's struggled with injuries himself, but imagine having him filling in for the injured Robbie Hummel in Jajuan and E'twaun's senior year. He's been viewed by many bitter Purdue fans as mentally weak and emotionally fragile - someone who just couldn't cut it at Purdue

As for us?  We hope he ends up not scoring, Purdue wins on a last second shot, and ESPN2 catches him heading to the locker room with tears streaming down his face.  What could have been, Scott?  What could have been...

Oh, and we hate Notre Dame.  Forgot to mention that earlier.

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 6.5.

Erik's Bet: $3
Erik's Pick: Notre Dame 58 - Purdue 55

Kirk's Bet: $21
Kirk's Pick: Notre Dame 66 - Purdue 57

Erik +201 (10-1 ATS)
Kirk -109 (4-7 ATS)

Values already bet
Erik 6, 11, 12, 13, 14, 26, 27, 30, 31, 32
Kirk 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Basketball Recap: Eastern Michigan 47 - Purdue 44

Well, I'm glad it's over.  For those that watched the game, you know what I mean...if I had to hear "If you think running a restaurant is hard, try running 4" one more time, I was going to take my Chase Ink card, cut it in two, and throw it Chinese star-style at the heads of the two fools on my computer screen who starred in the commercial that played TWICE every commercial break.  I'm glad the game's over too.

It had to have been the worst game I've seen since Purdue's 40-39 loss to Northwestern in 2004.  How can a team that dominates Clemson on the road end up looking this bad in front of 37 people in Ypsilanti?

The final stats say that Purdue lost the turnover battle 18-4.  I'm surprised it was that close.  First off, the Boilers forced 4 turnovers against a team who committed 17 turnovers against Syracuse IN THE FIRST HALF!  Sure the Eagles were shooting poorly, but it really wasn't because of great defense.  Instead, EMU missed wide-open shot after wide-open shot in the first half.  However, enough shots fell in the second half as the Eagles never had to worry about a potential steal.

Then there was the offense.  The Boilers attempted only 47 shots all game.  In comparison, they took 62 against Lamar and 60 against Xavier.  In such a slow game, you can't afford to turn it over.  Perhaps that's why the 18 turnovers seemed like 30.  Regardless, I expect practice to be pretty rough this week.

This section might be mislabeled.  Yes, when you shoot under 30%, you probably put up a lot of bricks.   However the most frustrating thing was how many missed shots there were from inside the paint.  While Hammons seemed to have a ton of these, this was never more evident than late in the game when Ronnie Johnson came in a got a huge offensive rebound.  Instead of setting himself and going back up with it or dishing it outside to find someone who's surely open, Johnson took one step and threw up a prayer as if the shot clock was running out.  This "prayer" hit the underside of the rim and got fumbled out of bounds.  Ronnie has a lot of potential, but I'd be ok if I never see anything like that again.

Uh, actually I have nothing to complain about.  In fact, I felt the officials FAVORED Purdue.  With 30 seconds left and down 2, Purdue forced EMU to miss a shot, but the rebound was batted out of bounds by Hammons.  Somehow, the referee gods finally looked down on us and gave the Boilers the ball.  There were several calls that I thought went Purdue's way - this one was the biggest and gave Purdue a chance to tie the game and force overtime.  Because of course you don't need to go for the win - when you're playing an inferior team, you want to extend the game as long as possible.  The Eagles' offense looked so bad in the last 4 minutes, I don't think anyone thought they could pull it out in overtime.  Plus, you never want this team shooting a 3-pointer.  So, just get it down to Hammons, crash the boards, and...

A THREE????????
Out of a timeout??????  No no no no no no no!  Did Terone have a good look?  I guess.  Did you ever think it was going to go in?  No.

You know the rest of the story. The Boilers actually still had a chance to tie it with a three on the next possession, yet turned it over before they even had a chance to shoot it.  Of course.  What a fitting way to end this game.  And all 17 members of EMU's student section rushed the court.

The 17-man student section rushes the court.
Byrd Followup
Loyal readers may remember my recap which referred to DJ Byrd's struggles with non-animal teams.   It's rare that I'm wrong (as evidenced by my now 10-1 record against the spread in Purdue games this year), so I was surprised to see Byrd struggle against the Cardinals and the Eagles.  So, I looked back on Byrd's game log and realized I had been on the right path.  DJ Byrd only performs well against non-human MAMMALS.  He apparently doesn't like attacking fellow birds either.

In games where DJ has faced a team with a non-human mammal in their nickname (Bison, Wildcats, Beavers, Tigers), he's made at least 4 field goals and averaged over 15 points per game.  In the 5 other games, he's made no more than 2 field goals and averaged less than 4 points per game.  I'm not looking forward to the matchup against the Irish next week...

Standings Update
Both Kirk and I got the winner wrong but the spread right.  I move to 10-1, eclipsed the $200 mark, and have built a $310 lead.  Meanwhile Kirk moves to a respectable 4-7.

Erik +201
Kirk -109

Friday, December 7, 2012

Basketball Preview: Purdue at Eastern Michigan - December 8th - 2:00 pm - ESPN3

On Saturday afternoon the Boilers take on the Eastern Michigan Eagles again, but this time in basketball!  I'm personally sick of emus this year, but at least we have their number.
Jimmy Clausen again?  Really?

Why Purdue Will Win -  Honestly, this game has the potential to be a horrible loss for the Boilers.  But why will they win? Technically the Boilers have a lot more talent and should be able to outplay the Eagles, but it will take actually making some three point attempts and mid-range jumpers in order to shoot over zone.      The Boilers could also help their offensive cause by forcing turnovers and scoring in transition, and EMU is prone to giving the ball away.  Sure, sure are the Boilers this year, but the issue won't be stopping the Eagles, it will be scoring on them.  Fingers crossed DJ Byrd keeps up his hot streak in road games.

Why Eastern Michigan Will Win -  EMU employs a Syracuse-style zone defense.  We all know the Boilers have trouble shooting this season, and one of the few ways to beat that zone is to shoot out of it.  If the shots aren't falling, Purdue may have trouble scoring, since the zone might shut down the inside.  That, combined with playing at home, where they are undefeated this season, could lead to a frustrating night for the good guys and an EMU victory.

One thing you absolutely need to know before the game -  The game is on ESPN3, which is free online for cable subscribers.  So get a cheap cord, hook your laptop to your giant HDTV, and watch in style.  Or do what I'll probably do and lay on the coach with my computer on my belly inches from my face or carry it around precariously while I play with my kids.  At least it's not on the Big Ten Digital Network!

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 -10.5.

Erik's Bet: $27 (update coming once the spread is posted, someone takes this very seriously)
Erik's Pick: Purdue 68 - Eastern Michigan 63

Kirk's Bet: $22
Kirk's Pick: Purdue 64 - Eastern Michigan 60

Erik +174
Kirk -131

Values already bet
Erik 6, 11, 12, 13, 14, 26, 30, 31, 32
Kirk 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32

Boiler up!

Basketball Recap: Purdue 72 - Lamar 39

I know I'm a bit late on this recap after being out of commission earlier this week, so I'll save you my wordy John Kerry-esque storytelling and get right to the point.

Purdue won big against a very over-matched Lamar squad.  There were lots of good things that happened in the game, but it's hard to look at them objectively when the opponent is so poor.

Board Dominance: Purdue out-rebounded Lamar 48 to 30, including 17 offensive boards.  With their size advantage, that was expected, but it was nice to see the energy getting to the ball, and for most of the first half Lamar didn't have an offensive rebound.  That poor guy, Lamar, must have been hard playing 1 on 5..

Big and Little: Purdue's most lethal offensive threat, Terone Johnson, did a great job driving the basket, using his body, and scoring 16 points in only 24 minutes, but more impressively he also pulled down a team high seven rebounds.  The team's most powerful offensive threat, AJ Hammons did some great work inside, scoring almost at will when fed the ball down low.  They make quite a nice one-two punch as Hammons comes along this season, and though both will have more trouble when the inside has some bigger bodies bouldering around, I like what I see.

Time for Time: Painter was able to play everyone on the bench (including the walk-ons), so it got game experience for a lot of Boilers, and most took advantage.  It's never a bad thing to give guys experience, since David and Simpson can always use it as freshman and they aren't seeing many minutes in the highly contested games.

Dru Master: Speaking of bonus playing time, Dru Anthrop got into the game early in the first half and played some great hustle basketball.  He tallied four steals and three assists to go with three points, but he was constantly diving after balls, getting tie-ups, and hounding the opponents on defense.  Now, I don't expect that from Dru once the competition is faster and longer, but it was nice to see him playing his heart out, and the Boilers may end up needing him down the road.

There were, of course some things that weren't so pleasant.

Byrd Dog: DJ continues to struggle from the field, and other than his big game against Clemson, he's been terribly unreliable.  Byrd scored two points on his only attempt from the field in eighteen minutes of action, which is fine in a game like this where the Boilers didn't need his scoring, but it was almost like he wasn't there.  Maybe that was intentional, but I'd much rather see him get back into a groove scoring, as they'll need it in conference play, especially from deep.

I never want to see Pat Knight near a Purdue logo again
Three Points, Shoot: Speaking of three point shooting, the team was bad again, going 4 for 11.  I just grimace every time I see a long shot.

Giving Money to Charity: Purdue's free throw shooting was once again abysmal.  57% (12 for 21) will not cut it and there will definitely be lots of losses on the horizon in that margin of error.  I just don't understand the inability to do the one skill that you can actually practice to the point of perfection.  Surprisingly, the only guy who didn't miss a freebie was Jacob Lawson (2 for 2).  Didn't see that coming, but  kudos to him for doing so.

Picks Update
We're throwing out Erik's bogus -11 spread for this game based on CBS Sportsline's computer, since there was in fact official betting on the game.  I was able to find lines that opened at Purdue -20 and closed at Purdue -19.5.  Since my pick was a 20-point win for the Boilers, I'm giving myself the benefit of the doubt and taking the win (which would have still been consistent with the CBS results). I need a win anywhere I can get it.  Maybe one day I'll be back in the black.  Erik continues to be nearly perfect on the season at 9-1.  I hope he's actually putting money on these games so we can have a swanky blog retreat this summer with his winnings.

Erik: +174
Kirk: -131  

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Purdue's New Football Coach - Darrell Hazell?

We haven't chimed in yet about the football head coach search, because I personally find it ridiculous.  Tracking plane flights, spending more time listening to rumors than you do rooting for the actual teams on the field, and letting Twitter control your life - it's all a bit extreme.  We have no inside knowledge, we don't have experience as an athletic director, coach, or agent, and we'd rather talk about things that actually happen than things that might.

But now apparently the time is upon us to welcome Purdue's new coach.  Multiple outlets are reporting that Burke has reached an agreement with Darrell Hazell, formerly of Kent State.  The contract may not be signed yet, so maybe I'm jumping the gun a little, but I'd wholeheartedly like to welcome Coach Hazell.  He was a near miracle-worker at Kent State, and I'm excited to see the future of the football team under his leadership.

I know some fans who have been obsessed with this search feel like we got our second or third choice, but I don't care about the process.  I care that we got a good coach who seems like a great guy, and following in the line of personalities like Tiller and Hope, I'm really glad Burke went with a coach that is likable while also producing on the field.

And it couldn't have happened at a more critical time, since someone up north is now looking for a new coach.  Shucks!

We'll have more reflection once everything is official, but for now simply Boiler Up!

p.s. Remember, two r's, two l's, one z, two l's.  I'm sure we'll screw that up once or twice.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Basketball Preview: Purdue vs. Lamar - December 4th - 6:30 pm - BTN

I'm pulling double duty tonight, so make sure you didn't miss the Xavier recap.  In it, you'll see why I expect DJ Byrd to shoot well against the Lamar Cardinals.

Meanwhile, tomorrow's game's an early one, so make sure to get home from work a little earlier.  It shouldn't be much of a contest though, so I suggest grabbing some beers or hard cider, watching the game, hanging some ornaments, and enjoying a nice cozy December evening.  If you're going to the game?  Pat Knight is the coach for Lamar, so get there early to give Bobby Knight's offspring a little extra ribbing...

Do you know how tough it is to find a picture related to Lamar that doesn't include these two fools?
Why Purdue Will Win -  Lamar has played an impressive schedule for a such an unknown school, already playing at Kansas State, Charlotte, Virginia, and Alabama.  I'm sure this has something to do with their fairly well-known coach.  Unfortunately for Lamar, the closest they came in those games was a 19-point loss to Virginia. Byrd could go 0-30 from the three point line...this one's still not going to be in doubt with 10 minutes to go.

Why Lamar Will Win - It's tough to imagine this scenario playing out, but the Cardinals do have a promising freshman in Rhon Mitchell who's leading the team in points and second on the team in rebounds.  While he doesn't take a ton of outside shots, if he can catch fire early and force the Boilers from packing the paint, Lamar might have a chance.  Their lone win was against IUPUI, who beat Utah Valley, who beat Pepperdine, who beat Washington they're only 4 degrees of separation from a win against a BCS-conference school.  That's all I got.

One thing you absolutely need to know before the game -  I thought a small school from Beaumont, Texas was a strange opponent in the middle of December, but according to the Indy Star, Matt Painter and Pat Knight met when they were 9-years-old and became good friends in high school.  They've been trying to schedule a game against each other for years, so I'd have to imagine this won't be the last time you see Lamar on the schedule.

Also, Knight got kicked out of a game last week for arguing with the officials.  It might have been staged, though, as I'm pretty sure this is the only way Lamar gets into USA Today.

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. Lamar is such a small team that they apparently aren't taking bets on this game.  So, we'll default to our backup plan: CBS Sportsline's Computer Projections.  I decided on this before looking at the projections and might get some grief from Kirk since they appear surprisingly close.  But I guess that's why they play the game: Purdue -11.

Erik's Bet: $31
Erik's Pick: Purdue 76 - Lamar 49

Kirk's Bet: $23
Kirk's Pick: Purdue 74 - Lamar 54

Erik +$143 (currently 8-1 against the spread on the season)
Kirk -$154 (currently 2-7 against the spread on the season)

Values already bet
Erik 6, 11, 12, 13, 14, 25, 26, 30, 31, 32
Kirk 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32

Boiler up!

Basketball Recap: Xavier 63 - Purdue 57

The Boilermakers had a chance to secure a quality win on Saturday but horrible shooting, timely misses from the charity stripe, and some questionable officiating left the Boilers reeling at 3-4.

This was one of those games where, as a fan, you had no idea how Purdue was going to score another basket.  Terone Johnson was generally effective on drives in the paint, but Xavier pretty much packed the inside and dared the Boilermakers to shoot.  Purdue went 0 for 17 from beyond the arc and DJ Byrd finished an abysmal 0 for 9.

DJ might need to watch this movie for inspiration
This leads me to a disturbing trend that needs to be pointed out: DJ Byrd has scored double digits in every game this season against a school that has an animal in their nickname, but has yet to score more than five points against a non-animal team (Hofstra Pride and Xavier Musketeers).  No, Pride is not an animal - it describes a group of animals.  This is going to be a major problem in the Big Ten as Purdue plays 8 games against the Buckeyes, Cornhuskers, Hoosiers, Illini, and Spartans.  Plus, they play two games against the Hawkeyes which, honestly, I'm not sure what the hell they are.  Anyway, Byrd better start watching some Hitchcock movies and realize he can attack things other than animals.

At first glance, 15 for 23 doesn't sound awful from the free throw line considering it's right around our season average.  However, at the 4:45 mark, Purdue missed 3 free throws in a row over a span of a minute and a half, which pretty much cost them the game.  Sure, they started the stretch with a 4 point deficit and ended it still down 4, but the first two missed free throws were actually front ends of 1-and-1's.  That's effectively FIVE missed free throws in a row.  Make four of five and the game is tied with 3 minutes to go.  Make 60% and you're only down one.  Sure enough, Semaj Christon came down and hit a huge 3-pointer to nearly bury Purdue.

Yet somehow, the Boilers still fought back and down 4 with 20 seconds left, Ronnie Johnson grabbed a missed Jacob Lawson free throw and put it in.  A whistle blew and at first it appeared that Johnson was going to receive an and-one, giving Purdue a chance at a 6-point play to miraculously cut the deficit to one (Lawson was at the line due to rebounding another missed free throw).  Further replays showed DJ Byrd getting dragged to the ground, however, so the basket wasn't going to count.  Still, Byrd had a chance to cut the lead to 2 and actually get a shot of his to drop (anyone who's played basketball knows how important it is to make a free throw when you're in a slump)!  Instead, it appears that Bo Boroski - THE SAME OFFICIAL THAT BLEW THE VILLANOVA GAME - chose to ignore the Byrd mauling and instead called the slightest push on Ronnie Johnson.  (Editor's Note: Kirk has set me straight...I was mistaken - the white-haired dude in the Villanova game was actually Brian O'Connell.  Perhaps I should have actually read my own post instead of just blindly linking it!  Regardless, Boroski was present for both games and surely could have made or overturned either call.) After viewing the play from multiple angles, I finally saw the very small nudge, but how Byrd gets taken down to the ground without it being called is beyond me.

Bo Borowski (white hair in both screenshots) (lower right) has had a hand in the two most controversial calls of Purdue's season.
Picks Update
Well, betting against Kirk is no longer a gimme win as Kirk has correctly picked two games in a row to move to 2-7 against the spread on the season.  Meanwhile, betting enthusiasts around the world have started to contact me as I am now 8-1 on the season against the spread (the only game I missed was the Villanova game - and I had it if it weren't for Mr. Boroski...pictured above).  Current standings are:

Erik: +143
Kirk: -154