Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Basketball Preview: Purdue at Iowa - February 27th - 8:30 pm - BTN

The Boilers head to Iowa City tonight with a potential NCAA Tournament bid on the line.  Sadly, that bid opportunity is for the Hawkeyes, who sit firmly on the bubble with only four games to play in the regular season.  A loss to Purdue would likely cripple Iowa's chances (and they head to IU the following game).

Just last month the Hawkeyes pushed Purdue to overtime before the good guys won by three points.  We were surprised that the Boilers actually pulled victory from the jaws of defeat after seemingly blowing the game late.  Will there be similar excitement and heroics tonight?

This one's for Erik, the only acceptable Emo out there

Why Purdue Will Win
Well, if Purdue can shoot above 50%, dish out 18 assists, and out-rebound the Hawkeyes by 20 like they did this weekend against Northwestern, then they may actually win a Big Ten road game! (wins at Penn State and Nebraska shouldn't really count as road wins since the arenas are mostly empty).  Yes, that's a dig at Iowa who just lost at Nebraska after blowing a 16 point halftime lead.  Seriously though, for Purdue to win they'll likely need AJ Hammons to flip his effort switch back to the "on" position.  He's the clear mismatch for the Hawkeyes and opens up opportunities for Purdue's scorers (even if they only shoot 39% like they did when beating Iowa last time).  Keeping the turnovers in check will also be key, since last time Purdue only gave the ball away seven times.

Why Iowa Will Win
It really depends on which Iowa team shows up - the one that destroyed Minnesota or the one that lost to Nebraska by shooting only 37% from the field?  I expect it to be the former as the Hawkeyes scratch and claw their way to earn an NCAA Tourney bid.  Also, if you look at their record, their only blowout loss was early in the conference season at Michigan.  Otherwise they have played the tough teams well and almost beat Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Purdue on the road, and narrowly losing to IU and MSU at home.  This Iowa team just can't seem to close out games, but otherwise they'd be the biggest surprise of the Big Ten season.  With that added motivation and playing at home I expect them to come out on top.

One thing you absolutely need to know before the game
If you recall Erik's recap after round one, Melsahn Basabe had a beast of a final 10 minutes, leading the Hawkeye charge.  He's definitely a player that is streaky and can either play lights out or disappear completely (as he did in their loss to Nebraska, a virtual nonfactor on offense or defense).  Let's hope he's having a down game and doesn't carry over his enthusiasm playing against the Boilers.  But Purdue also has an inconsistent secret weapon that showed his teeth last time these two teams played - Donnie Hale, who had 12 points and five rebounds while playing 29 minutes.  Hale hasn't logged more than 10 minutes the last two games (after playing closer to 20 minutes per contest prior), so it'll be interesting to see if Coach Painter works him back into the rotation against a team where he had past success.

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 Iowa by 9 (ouch).

Erik's Bet: $18
Erik's Pick: Purdue 63 - Iowa 62

Kirk's Bet: $3
Kirk's Pick: Iowa 61 - Purdue 55

Erik +281 (21-8 Against The Spread)
Kirk -132 (13-16 Against The Spread)

Values already bet
Erik 1-18, 21-32
Kirk 3-32

Boiler Up!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Basketball Recap: Purdue 74 - Northwestern 43

I'm currently on vacation in Florida for an extended period of time.  The perks of a job that lets me work remotely, a free place to stay thanks to family, and yes I'm rubbing it in for all you suffering through ice and snow up north.  But vacation makes it difficult to follow the Boilers when you don't have a DVR and your schedule is dictated by two kids under four years in age. 

As I parked the minivan and raced inside to catch the start of the game, I knew that I had missed the first few minutes of action, but my jaw literally dropped when I saw I had missed nine minutes of the first half and Purdue was leading by 15 points (22-7).  What bizarro world had I entered driving down the interstate in the land of the geriatric?  Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!

The fans sure didn't turn out for the game, but Terone did

I'll admit, that was a fun game to watch, as Purdue was hitting ridiculous shots that normally wouldn't go in but also playing a complete basketball game for the first time in weeks.  And I only felt a little bad for Northwestern.  Sure, the Wildcats are missing three of their best players and are pretty terrible without them, but Purdue needed this win like Carl needed to kill a gopher.  The twenty or thirty point losses were piling up, and it was starting to feel a bit like this, but then the Boilers go and flip the table to actually BEAT an opponent by more than thirty points.  So how on earth did this happen?

Other than Northwestern being pretty horrible and missing tons of open shots (22% from three, 29% overall), Purdue played for the first time in weeks like they actually cared.  Let me rephrase that: Purdue's veterans played for the first time in weeks like they actually cared.  I don't know what changed with Terone Johnson, but he went off for 22 points, 6 rebounds, and only one turnover while nailing four of his five three-point attempts.  While Terone is the type of player who can carve up bad defenses and less athletic players with his drive and floater, no one expected him to be the team's leading deep threat.

Speaking of deep threats, DJ Byrd finally played a solid game, too.  He tallied 13 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds to go with only one turnover.  While the team as a whole didn't exactly handle the ball well (15 total turnovers), it was nice to see the upper classman "leaders" actually lead and perform well on the court.  If only they could do the same against good teams!

Another senior played better than expected, and that was Sandi Marcius who got the start over AJ Hammons.  Hammons played only 12 minutes, and he did fine scoring six points in that time, but Painter was clearly sending a message (that I'd been begging for) to start the players that actually showed the most effort.  And how can you not love Sandi?  Even though he's clearly not the best big man, he gives 100% every time he's on the court.  In 16 minutes he made a couple baskets, got a few boards, and blocked two shots, and the team did well when he was in.

Ray Davis had a nice game with ten points and seven rebounds (leading the team).  Thanks to the Wildcats' poor shooting and lack of athleticism (or maybe even effort since the game was over early), Purdue out-rebounded them by 20.  People were actually boxing out and crashing the boards, as opposed to previous games where players acted like they were allergic to jumping.  Even the walk-ons got some playing time (since our coach is decent enough to pull his starters when leading by 25+ points with under 10 minutes remaining).

The team that has played like a group of individuals also seemed to gel, making some great passes including 18 assists, the most in a game since losing to Villanova in NYC in the third game of the season.  Maybe a senior player stepped up and gave the team a great pep talk like this after the second IU loss.

Does this mean the Boilers' problems have been fixed?  Hardly, but it's nice to see that this group can remember how to play as a unit, and just maybe that can lead to an exciting upset to end the season.  If not, we should all enjoy this victory (and watch if repeatedly on your DVR if you're lucky enough to have one) since it may be the last this season.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Basketball Preview: Purdue vs. Northwestern - February 24th - 6:00 pm - BTN

It's been a nice week off for Purdue men's basketball fans, although the women's basketball team did a nice job of filling that disgusting feeling in our stomach with their shocking loss to IU.

In the meantime, celebrated another milestone with our 30,000th all-time page view - not too shabby for a blog that's only been around for 11 months and has covered the least exciting year in Purdue sports since 2005-2006!  Thank you so much for all your continued support - we're amazed that people actually care what we think and that our wives let us spend hours and hours doing something that hasn't earn us a dime.  Of course, we're still waiting for that multimillion dollar sponsorship deal to make this thing all pay off, so if you want to pay money to reach a Purdue fanbase that's apparently really interested in what happened to a certain former Boilermaker (we're the number 1 result when you google "Nate Minnoy"!), let us know!  We'll be happy to negotiate down from our initial two million dollar price tag, but make sure your offer is reasonable.  Other payment options include six-packs of good beer and/or an invite to play a really nice golf course.

Seriously though, thanks again for making part of your insatiable Purdue appetite.  Now lets celebrate with a win on Sunday!

Which tie-less striped white shirt and dark blazer combo will Bill Carmody show up in tomorrow?

Why Purdue Will Win
Purdue has yet to score more than 68 points in a Big Ten game and has only scored more than 65 once (the 68-61 victory over Illinois).  So Purdue needs to face a team that won't score 66 points.  Luckily for the Boilermakers, Northwestern's coming to town and they've only scored 66 or more 4 times in Big Ten play.  In fact they've only broken the 59-point barrier once in the past 9 games and have lost Jared Swopshire for the season since that game.  Add to the fact the the Wildcats have scored 41 in each of their last two games, and Purdue appears to be facing the right opponent at the right time.

Why Northwestern Will Win
You may remember that one game Northwestern scored more than 59 - it was against Purdue.  Reggie Hearn scored 26 and the Wildcats didn't seem to have any problem dominating the Boilers.  Even without Swopshire, if Hearn can come close to replicating his unbelievable game, Northwestern could pull off the road win.  Northwestern did beat Illinois on the road this year, so there's no reason to think they'll be scared of what promises to be a relatively dull Mackey Arena.

One thing you absolutely need to know before the game 
It's time for me to vent.  Why is Purdue playing a 6:00 pm game on Sunday night?  And why are only 8 Big Ten teams playing this weekend?  I know the first one has to do with TV, but no team should have a weekend off during the regular season.  Weekend games are (1) much easier for out of town fans to get to (increasing ticket sales), (2) limit the amount of time players miss class, and (3) increase revenues at local businesses as people are more likely to hang around campus before and after games.  Meanwhile, all 12 teams played weeknight games from February 12-14. Why couldn't these two groups of games be switched to allow for more weekend games?  I think I'm just pissed that the only Big Ten game to watch on a cold Saturday is Iowa at Nebraska.  That sucks.  Come on Big Ten...Kirk and I will be happy to make your schedule for you.  For free.  And it'll be 10 times better than the current schedule.

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: $29
Erik's Pick: Purdue 59 - Northwestern 52

Kirk's Bet: $4
Kirk's Pick: Purdue 61 - Northwestern 57

Erik +252 (20-8 Against The Spread)
Kirk -128 (13-15 Against The Spread)

Values already bet
Erik 1-17, 21-32
Kirk 4-32

Boiler Up!

Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings - Conference Season #7

Power rankings suck right now.  The only realistic way IU loses the Big Ten regular season title is if Wisconsin wins out (which is totally possible since three of their final four games are likely wins) and Indiana loses two of its last four.  I don't see any way Michigan State creeps back into the race with their next three games being against ranked opponents (two of which are on the road).

Just two pictures of a couple typical d-bag IU fans

On to the rankings, where I die a lot inside and can't think of a clever literary theme.  Hey, I'm on vacation.
1.   Indiana (24-3, 12-2) [Last week's rank: 2]

Crushed Purdue, won at Michigan State

2.   Wisconsin (19-8, 10-4) [Last week's rank: 5]

Absoultely crushed Ohio State and Northwestern

3.   Michigan State (22-5, 11-3) [Last week's rank: 1]

Beat Nebraska, blew it against IU
4.   Ohio State (19-7, 9-5) [Last week's rank: 3]

Lost at Wisconsin, crushed Minnesota

5.   Michigan (22-4, 9-4) [Last week's rank: 4]
Topped Penn State

6.   Illinois (20-8, 7-7) [Last week's rank: 6]

Won big at Northwestern, but barely beat Penn State at home

7.    Iowa (17-9, 6-7) [Last week's rank: 8]

Huge win against Minnesota

8.    Minnesota (18-9, 6-8) [Last week's rank: 7]

Lopsided losses at Iowa and Ohio State (makes it even more amazing they broke their losing streak by beating Wisconsin)

9.   Northwestern (13-14, 4-10) [Last week's rank: 9]

Lost badly at home to Illinois and Wisconsin.  If not for their win against Purdue they'd be on a seven-game losing streak.

10. Purdue (12-14, 5-8) [Last week's rank: 10]

Destroyed by IU and then had the week to sit and think about how bad they are.  If not for the fortunate scheduling break of a Penn State game, they'd be on a six-game losing streak, so despite how bad Northwestern is looking right now, I still can't move Purdue up a spot, but that could change after this weekend.

11. Nebraska (12-14, 3-10) [Last week's rank: 11]

Lost to MSU

12. Penn State (8-18, 0-14) [Last week's rank: 12]

Lost be single digits at Illinois and Michigan (if that can be seen as a moral victory)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Basketball Recap: Indiana 83 - Purdue 55

Alright, we've heard all about how horrible that game was on Saturday.  Being the eternal optimist, however, I'd really like to focus on the positives from the game...

1) Christian Watford played so well in the first half and has such an ugly beard that he's caught the attention of Samuel Mullet and his Ohio Amish Beard Cutting cult.  Samuel's in jail for hate crimes right now (yes, apparently cutting a beard off an Amish person is a hate crime), but rumor has it that his new found love for tv has convinced him to organize a beard-cutting crew for Indiana's March 5th game against Ohio State.  While we would never condone a crime here on, chopping off Watford's disgusting stringy beard would be a benefit to all mankind.

2) Dan Dakich was able to say this awesome line, even though Purdue was down by 30...
"The crowd is chanting 'Ball State's Better.'  Now in football, Ball State IS better than Indiana as they've beaten them two straight times."
Dan and I don't always agree (Illinois is the third best team in the league???), but thanks for sticking up for us!

3)  We've uncovered a scandal!  Indiana Associate Head Coach, Steve McClain, was caught on camera grabbing DJ Byrd's ass late in the first half...

If this was an attempt to distract Byrd into a night in which he committed more combined turnovers and fouls (8) than points (6), it worked well. If you really want to dig further into the potential scandal, ask yourself where Tom Crean's hands are and see if you can figure out what they're doing while McClain grabs DJ's behind.  I mean, isn't the scientifically proven sleaziest coach in the Big Ten ALWAYS clapping his hands???  This is definitely questionable behavior and should be looked into by the Big Ten.

For your enjoyment, here's a picture of Mr. McClain about ten years ago as the coach of Wyoming...

Seriously, this is IU's Associate Head Coach
Clearly, Bloomington is a disturbing place - I mean where else can such an ugly dude like John Mellencamp (who sometimes bears a striking resemblance to Bo Ryan) end up with someone like this...

 Honestly, I'm just glad the team got out of that hellish town in one piece.

4) We didn't have to witness another blow-by handshake.

5) Sandi Marcius and Jacob Lawson but some good hustle minutes in on Saturday.  They were rewarded by starting the second half.  Keep it up guys and the minutes will keep coming!  Meanwhile, Travis Carroll got 5 minutes of mop-up time in a 30-point game?  Hmm.

6) Neal Beshears got actual meaningful minutes, as he came in with over 12 minutes to go, down by less than 20.  The Hoosiers went on a huge run to officially seal the game, so I can't say they were great minutes.  Still, nice to see an Indiana walk-on native get rewarded by playing in the state's biggest rivalry.

Remember, it's usually tough to beat a team 3 times in a season, and right now we'd be matched up with the Hoosiers of the second round of the Big Ten Tourney (I'm reaching, but it's all I got!).  The Boilers still have a chance to be spoilers this season as they get a week off to try and figure out how they can compete with the top half of the conference.  Hope you as a fan can enjoy the week off as well - I think everyone needs it.

Boiler Up!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Basketball Preview: Purdue at Indiana - February 16th - 2:00 pm - ESPN

It's the rivalry rematch today, although hard to call it a rematch when one of the two parties doesn't really show up.  Will the result be different this time?  Can Purdue avoid losing by more than 37 points?

Lloyd: Hit me with it! Just give it to me straight! The least you can do is level with me. What are my chances?
Mary: Not good.
Lloyd: You mean, not good like one out of a hundred?
Mary: I'd say more like one out of a million.
Lloyd: So you're telling me there's a chance... *YEAH!* 
Why Purdue Will Win
Because everyone on the IU team could be incapacitated by the norovirus?  Seriously though, I don't see anything that could result in a Purdue victory short of shooting 65%+ from the field and IU having a game where they just can't hit a bucket (like both teams in that title game a couple years back).  It's going to be a painful game, and keeping the margin respectable would honestly be a moral victory with this team.  Stop IU from running, slow the game down, and keep the score in the 70's Boilermakers!

Why Indiana Will Win
Because they are a much better team, it's that simple.  As we regrettably saw in West Lafayette last month, IU will force the Boilers to make stupid turnovers, play out of control, and frustrate them to no end when trying to score.  If Purdue shows the same lack of effort for rebounds that has plagued them in the last few games, then expect that margin to be ridiculous as the Hoosiers have the height and hustle advantage.

One thing you absolutely need to know before the game 
Let's all agree that this game is going to be painful.  The odds of a Boiler victory are probably hovering around 1%.  So instead, here's a list of things you can do this afternoon other than watch the game:

  • Watch Cuonzo Martin lead the Tennessee Volunteers against Kentucky on CBS
  • ESPN Classic is showing the 1990 NBA game where Michael Jordan scored 69 points against the Cavaliers (sorry Erik, that's not a good alternative for you).  Actually, they are showing a Jordan marathon for his 50th birthday, so maybe that will cheer me up after the Purdue game.
  • Catch up on the last few episodes of Justified or Top Chef
  • Eat some crackers and try to recover from the norovirus

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 Indiana by 19 points.

Erik's Bet: $22
Erik's Pick: Indiana 84 - Purdue 62

Kirk's Bet: $5
Kirk's Pick: Indiana 90 - Purdue 60

Erik +230 (19-8 Against The Spread)
Kirk -133 (12-15 Against The Spread)

Values already bet
Erik 1-17, 21-28, 30-32
Kirk 5-32

BOILER UP!!!! (and we'll be watching, even if we joke about it.  We're loyal and a bit masochistic)

Basketball Recap: Illinois 79 - Purdue 59

On Wednesday night, it was so entertaining to watch Purdue basketball that I spent the next 12 hours vomiting.  No exaggeration.  Sure, it may have been only 1% due to how disgusted I am by the Boilers play on the court and 99% related to the norovirus, but the results are the same.

Norovirus = Purdue basketball
As I lay feverishly sweating, trying to figure out if I was dying, it gave me time to ponder the game.  Overall, it just grinds on me to see such poor effort from the guys lucky enough to wear a Purdue jersey.  I don't expect to beat good teams, and Illinois is a very mediocre one (as we've seen from actually beating them this season), with the talent and youth assembled, but to me there's never an excuse for lack of effort.  For the umpteenth straight game, a bad loss was as much due to effort as talent.

When you look at the stat line for Illinois, you see an interesting phenomenon:

  • 42% shooting, only 4% better than Purdue
  • 28% three-point shooting on 25 attempts, worse than the Boilers
  • Fewer steals and blocks than Purdue
  • Only five assists more than the Boilers
  • Four more fouls than Purdue, including their best player fouling out
That doesn't exactly sound like the production of a team that wins by 20 points, does it?  So what made the difference.  Purdue gave up 17 offensive rebounds (40 total) and also had 17 turnovers.  Most of those offensive boards were due to lack of hustle, boxing out, or simple court awareness.  Honestly, it was pathetic, as guys were just standing around.  When Ronnie Johnson is by far your leading rebounder, it means the other guys aren't getting the job done.

But Ronnie isn't out of the doghouse.  He had five turnovers, and the sloppy execution of the entire time made matters even worse.  Whatever the attitude problem that makes this team unmotivated and unfocused, it needs to be killed this off-season (it clearly won't be ended any sooner).  If that means players leave, so be it, and I still think Painter should bench every player that won't hustle, no matter who they are.  No number of Matt Painter ejections will fire this team up.

There were a few other things from the game that were almost as despicable as the play on the court.  First, the Big Ten Network broadcast featured Tim Doyle, which guarantees for some asinine comments.  Here were a few of his best:
  • DJ is the best shooter in the conference (or one of the best in the country).  Really?
  • Terone has the best floater in the country.  Really?
  • Hammons will be the conference player of the year next year.  Really?
Seriously, how desperate is Doyle for something to say?  All of those comments are ludicrous, and while maybe Hammons will be great next season, to give any praise whatsoever to DJ and Terone's shooting this season means Doyle hasn't watched much basketball.  DJ is shooting 37% this season (36% from distance), and Terone is shooting 39% mostly on his crappy floater.  

Another knock on the broadcast: Erik pointed out that BTN is reading this blog for things to talk about during the game.  Sure, they might get caught stealing notes from the more popular, longer tenured Purdue blogs, but a little site like ours is easy pickins.  Erik emphasized how critical Egwu would be in his game preview, and during the first five minutes of the game, they talked constantly about the same fact, even citing that he had four or more fouls in eight of his last nine games.  Thieves!*

Finally, I'll leave you with this quote from Matt Painter:
“When you walk into a program and you have guys like E’Twaun Moore, JaJuan Johnson and Robbie Hummel, sure they are good players, but they are hard-working players. They put in a lot of time and have the work ethic. We have a couple of guys who work at it, but my reference point is always the guys that we have had. Do we have somebody on our team who works as hard as Rob Hummel? We don’t.”
*This could just be a coincidence, but it's fun to think you're reading, BTN crew!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings - Conference Season #6

Power rankings?  Could you care less right now?  I just want a conference win at this point.  Let's get this over with quickly.

On to the rankings, where I keep the literary trend going with relevant books by some of my favorite authors that you should read.

1.   Michigan State (21-4, 10-2) [Last week's rank: 3]

Crushed Purdue and Michigan
That Hideous Strength

2.   Indiana (22-3, 10-2) [Last week's rank: 2]

Won big at Ohio State and beat Nebraska
Something Wicked This Way Comes

3.   Ohio State (18-6, 8-4) [Last week's rank: 4]

Lost to Indiana, beat Northwestern
Smoke and Mirrors

4.   Michigan (21-4, 8-4) [Last week's rank: 1] 

Lost at Wisconsin and were destroyed at Michigan State
Things Fall Apart

5.   Wisconsin (17-8, 8-4) [Last week's rank: 5]

Beat Michigan but lost at Minnesota
White Noise

6.   Illinois (18-8, 5-7) [Last week's rank: 7]

Won at Minnesota and crushed Purdue
A Clockwork Orange

7.   Minnesota (18-7, 6-6) [Last week's rank: 6]

Lost to Illinois, beat Wisconsin (for their first win against a good team in over a month)
The Sound and the Fury 

8.   Iowa (16-9, 5-7) [Last week's rank: 10]

Beat Northwestern and narrowly edged Penn State
Road Dogs

9.   Northwestern (13-12, 4-8) [Last week's rank: 8]

Lost at Iowa and Ohio State
Children of the Mind

10.  Purdue (12-13, 5-7) [Last week's rank: 9]

Pitiful against MSU and at Illinois
Now Wait for Last Year

11.  Nebraska (12-13, 3-9) [Last week's rank: 11]

Beat Penn State and lost at IU
Lamb to the Slaughter

12.  Penn State (8-16, 0-12) [Last week's rank: 12]

Lost at Nebraska and to Iowa
Call for the Dead

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Basketball Preview: Purdue at Illinois - February 13th - 9:00 pm - BTN

It's the week of Assembly Halls as Purdue travels to Illinois and Indiana back to back in the midst of a brutal stretch of the schedule.  Meanwhile, Kirk and I survived last weekend's game against Michigan State much like you survived my wife's blog takeover...we're here, we're alive, but we'd prefer not to see that again anytime soon.

Actually I think my wife did make some good points about the game - the only thing I would've added is how disappointed I am that The Paint Crew did not seem to be on Branden Dawson the whole game.  We sat right next to The Paint Crew and I really felt that Kirk and I were the only ones yelling anything when he got the ball in the second half.  This guy punched Travis Carroll and taunted Matt Painter in his first two years at MSU - and he goes off for a career-high 20 points.  I'm not saying he wouldn't have gone off if there had been "A-Hole" chants every time he touched it, but you have to at least try right?  The Paint Crew gets sheets on their seat before every game.  This game's sheet should have been devoted to Dawson.  As a former Paint Crew board member, I'm disappointed in you guys.

Luckily the Paint Crew will have some time to recoup as the next home game is not until next Sunday.  The Boilers, however will have their hands full tomorrow night against a team that gave Purdue their highlight of the season...

Why Purdue Will Win
It seems like ages ago, but Purdue did actually beat the Illini earlier this year.  In fact, the Boilers have beat Illinois 8 straight times, so they haven't had much of a problem in (this) Assembly Hall.  Purdue's success has usually been a result of someone going off in Champaign (anyone remember E'twaun Moore making unbelievable fadeaways or John Hart's not-on-the-roster explosion?).  Terone Johnson and DJ Byrd both had huge games in the first meeting - will they step up again?  If Illinois has one of their cold shooting stretches, the Boilers could very well pull this one out.

Why Illinois Will Win
The Illini's season has been pretty much the exact opposite of Purdue's season.  Illinois started 14-1 with some huge wins before falling to Purdue and sliding to 2-7 in the Big Ten.  However, Illinois has fought their way back into the NCAA tourney with two huge wins over Indiana and at Minnesota.  The Illini are one of the hottest teams in the conference and are nearly impossible to beat if they're shooting well.  Even if they don't shoot very well, Nnanna Egwu can still seal the game by beating Hammons down low.  If he can stay out of foul trouble, Illinois should win easily.

One thing you absolutely need to know before the game 
I mentioned Egwu's foul trouble and it's something to keep an eye on.  Illinois' most recent win over the Gophers was the first time in NINE games that Egwu didn't have at least 4 fouls.  Get those fouls early and Hammons should have a huge 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 is Illinois by 8.5 points.

Erik's Bet: $16
Erik's Pick: Illinois 74 - Purdue 64

Kirk's Bet: $6
Kirk's Pick: Illinois 72 - Purdue 62

Erik +214 (18-8 Against The Spread)
Kirk -139 (11-15 Against The Spread)

Values already bet
Erik 1-17, 21, 23-28, 30-32
Kirk 6-32


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Purdue vs. Michigan St. Recap - Wife Edition

Purdue's 75-62 loss to Michigan State seemed very familiar - so much so that I (Erik) was worried this recap would bore our loyal readers with the same old complaints about the same old things.  Being at Mackey this weekend, my wife watched her first full game of the year and offered to give her thoughts on the game instead.  What the hell...why not?  These are her own thoughts and any resemblance to actual analysis is purely coincidental...

This weekend was our annual trip to Purdue to catch a Boilermaker basketball game. We had gone to West Lafayette a few months ago for a football game against Wisconsin. After that very rainy, miserable game, where, ironically, the Boilers got hung out to dry, I was certain this sporting experience would be better… well, at least the game was indoors.

I’m going to keep this much briefer than my husband or his friend typically would (I can sense your sigh of relief already) and just focus on a few of the main impressions/thoughts that I had during my 2 hours in Mackey. Now, keep in mind, I know very little about sports and my passion for them or the Boilermakers isn’t anywhere near this blog’s normal writers, but I’m going to give it a go anyway.

1) The ball handling in this game was unbelievable. At times, I could have sworn Erik had taken me to a Harlem Globetrotters game, as the ball was rolling around on the floor, out of people’s hands, off their feet, everywhere but the rim.

2) Players, meet free throws. Free throws, meet players. This is not a new concept- you two should be more than familiar already. I only played on the “B Team” in high school (we played during half-time instead of during the main game. Yes, I was THAT good), and even I know that free throws are the one way you can take back control and get back in the game. If you aren’t playing well and you blow these, you don’t win. Hence, what we witnessed.

3) I had a thought- wouldn’t it be great if the referees had their own coach during the games? That way, if they are doing a crappy job, someone can pull them together and remind them of what they should be doing or sub in new refs, if they can’t handle the responsibility… just a thought.

4) D.J. Byrd, what is happening!?! As the only starting senior, I’m counting on you to make this game worth my time. I watch basketball for two reasons, 1- I find the players cute (sorry, there’s just not anyone for me this year) or 2- The game is full of great shots and is competitive. I left feeling disappointed on both accounts and I worry this Byrd is becoming fowl.

5) I did see one great player on the court this Saturday. Unfortunately, it was only for about 5 minutes when he gave his thank you speech and we watched his jersey hang in the air. Robbie, I miss you for both of the reasons mentioned above in number 4. Know that I’m writing a strongly worded letter to the Cavs to see if they will draft you. I have promised to buy season tickets and will keep my fingers crossed.  [ed. note - I've suggested to my wife that she also write a strongly worded letter to the NBA to change the rules so players can get drafted more than once.]

The game was so bad that even Purdue Pete got hammered afterwards.
Oh well, I guess we’ll wait and see what next year brings. Due to my university’s Division 3 status [ed. note - Slippery Rock is actually Division 2], I have adopted the Boilermakers as my college team, so I will continue to support them and hope for the best. Boiler Up!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Basketball Preview: Purdue vs. Michigan State - February 9th - 7:00 pm - BTN

It's the biggest game of the year!  Sure, the Boilers aren't playing IU or for a chance to make the tourney or win the conference, but it's the most important game of the year because Erik and I will both be in Mackey Arena tonight, and the Boilers simply must not let us down.  As ridiculously loud former Paint Crew (and Gene Pool) members, I'm sure you'll be able to hear us if you turn up the volume on your television.

There's no love lost between Purdue and Michigan State, mostly thanks to Branden Dawson's antics last year and punch of Travis Carroll earlier this season.  Earlier this week I had the chance to chat with a respected Purdue sports broadcaster, and he made sure to emphasize that fans should give Dawson all he can handle (and that it was most definitely a punch), but he really hoped the fans were polite to Gary Harris.  Sure we were incredibly disappointed by his choice of MSU over Purdue, but he hasn't been a jerk about it and apparently is a very nice guy off the court.  So if you're going to be at Mackey, make sure you boo Dawsen mercilessly, he deserves every bit of it, but reserve your venom for him and Izzo.

Hope he falls flat on his face

Why Purdue Will Win
Up in East Lansing, the Boilers were able to hang with the Spartans throughout the first half.  Unfortunately the wheels fell off the bus in the second half, but they've shown that they can match MSU's physicality for significant stretches.  They key to this game is AJ Hammons.  Without significant minutes and production from him, the Boilers won't win (unless they get hot from the 3-point range or something, but c'mon, we know that's never going to happen).  Can Terone break out of his slump?  Can the freshmen limit the turnovers and play controlled ball?  Limiting the turnovers will be key to avoid giving up points in transition, and the defense is going to have to work mighty hard to close out on shooters like Harris.  It's going to take 40 minutes of incredibly high energy, smart basketball, and wise shot-selection, but it's certainly possible Purdue can pull the upset.  If only because Erik and I will be willing them on.  After the IU debacle, this better be the loudest, most impressive home court advantage I've ever seen, so if you're not yelling, you're really helping MSU.

The final upside for the Boilers is that Michigan State has a lot of players really hurting and not at 100%.  You never want to take a team for granted just because they're hurt, but this could make for a golden opportunity tonight.  Harris is having back spasms, Appling left the Minnesota game early due to serious shoulder issues, Dawson sprained his ankle, Trice is still out with concussion symptoms, and Payne took an elbow to the face (which doesn't hurt his production, it just makes him even uglier).  Purdue certainly has the opportunity to capitalize on this, and MSU doesn't have a deep bench.

Why Michigan State Will Win
Payne and Nix (those names just sound like guys who'll hurt you) will most likely cause problems for Hammons, and my big fear is that he gets in early foul trouble and the Boilers get into a hole the can't climb out of.  Carroll and Chooch simply don't allow the Boilers to develop their offense, so coming from behind without Hammons is virtually impossible.  Also, with all the talented shooters MSU has with Harris, Appling, and Valentine, there are just so many ways the Spartans can beat you.  If they wear down the Boilermakers, the game could get ugly, just like the IU loss.

One thing you absolutely need to know before the game 
Other than the fact you should look for Erik and I at the game, you should also be on the lookout for Robbie Hummel.  He'll be back to be honored at halftime (and hopefully at Harry's following the game?).  If only we could put him back in the jersey that they'll be hanging from the rafters, because the Boilers could certainly use him.  Coach Hazell and the baseball team will also be at the game signing autographs prior to tipoff.  It's going to be quite the festive environment, so let's just hope the product on the court doesn't let us down.

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 Michigan State by 4.5 points.

Erik's Bet: $8
Erik's Pick: Michigan State 68 - Purdue 64

Kirk's Bet: $7
Kirk's Pick: Michigan State 70 - Purdue 62

Erik +222 (18-7 Against The Spread)
Kirk -146 (10-15 Against The Spread)

Values already bet
Erik 1-15, 17, 21, 23-28, 30-32
Kirk 7-32


Friday, February 8, 2013

Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings - Conference Season #5

A lot of people like to do their power rankings on a Monday to start off the week and take advantage of the break in the action.  I chose Friday simply because it's easier with my schedule.  Turns out that choice was perfect because the Fighting Illini, and my new best friend Tyler Griffey, did some honorable work last night.

Nice defense Hoosiers! Way to stand around Zeller.

On to the rankings, where we build off of last week's haiku and bring you the ever-popular limerick.

1.   Michigan (21-2, 8-2) [Last week's rank: 1]

You lost a road game to IU,
But that is no cause to be blue
You'll beat them at home,
Then head to the dome,
After getting upset by Purdue?

2.   Indiana (20-3, 8-2) [Last week's rank: 2]

You hadn't played much tough ball
Away from your biased Ass. Hall
Then you head out of state
Blow your lead and lose late
And defend like a hole in a wall


Things to note from this game:
Zeller's last second D was quite lame
It's a shock to be beat
When you shoot with such heat
Sheehey's d-bag ego to blame?

(you just have to love how much that technical foul hurt in hindsight)

3.   Michigan State (19-4, 8-2) [Last week's rank: 3]

Spartans look better than guessed
Pray Purdue gives them a real test
Boo Dawson so hard
But make sure the scorecard
Shows Boilers are really the best

4.   Ohio State (17-5, 7-3) [Last week's rank: 4]

They've only had one bad loss
Played Michigan so very boss
They play up or down
To their rival's renown
So they'll cause IU some chaos

5.   Wisconsin (16-7, 7-3) [Last week's rank: 5]

Their play is always a bore
'Cause they make it so hard to score
And lanky white boys
Can be such killjoys
Expect them to finish top four

6.   Minnesota (17-6, 5-5) [Last week's rank: 6]

Not looking as fierce as we thought
The Gophers seem quite distraught
Their players it seems
Still can't beat good teams
Tubby's one good class going for naught

7.   Illinois (16-8, 3-7) [Last week's rank: 10]

Illinois was spiraling down
And looking quite like a clown
But then they got hot
Made shot after shot
In March will they yet wear a gown?

8.  Northwestern (13-10, 4-6) [Last week's rank: 9]

A nice short week for the 'Cats
Who bashed the Boilers with bats
A sneaky smart crew
Who sorely miss Drew
But Boilers must simply tip hats

9.   Purdue (12-11, 5-5) [Last week's rank: 7]

It isn't impressive to lawd
Beating a bad Penn State squad
The schedule is rough
Do they have enough
To make up for an offense so flawed?

10.  Iowa (14-9, 3-7) [Last week's rank: 8]

A heart-breaking week for the Hawks
Who keep running into roadblocks
Two tough road bouts
They couldn't eke out
But "close" is as worthless as rocks

11.  Nebraska (11-12, 2-8) [Last week's rank: 11]

Still dwelling down here in the cellar
Your play hasn't been very stellar
But now and again
You sneak out a win
I pray you can stop Cody Zeller

12.  Penn State (8-14, 0-10) [Last week's rank: 12]

Your last chance for victory is near
When you play the lads with corn by the ear
If you stink like a pig
You'll get kicked out of the Big
Tim Frazier can transfer next year

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Basketball Recap: Purdue 58 - Penn State 49

Yesterday the Boilers avoided total disaster by beating Penn State on the road, keeping the Nittany Lions winless in the conference.  Despite the win, unfortunately, there was more to be concerned with as a Purdue fan than there was to be happy about.

For the first half, Purdue looked just as bad as they did against Northwestern or Indiana, which continues to amaze me how little this team sometimes seems to care or make intelligent basketball decisions.  Fortunately the Boilers played the final minutes of the first half and majority of the second half like a team that didn't just come together in a pick-up game at the co-rec.  Down nine with less than five minutes to play in the half, things finally began to click and the lead slowly rose, only dipping down to five points once in the final ten minutes.

If you look closely you may actually see some Penn State
fans in attendance under the age of 80

So what did we learn, other than Purdue is at least better than the worst team in the conference right now?

1. The three point line might as well be at half court.  The guys might be learning that they suck at shooting three-pointers, and maybe (fingers crossed), Painter forced them to limit their attempts in the second half.  After going 0 for 8 in the first half, the Boilers only shot two threes in the second half, of course missing both (by Byrd).  One was with the shot clock expiring at the end of the game, so I'm hopeful that it was intentional.  Byrd went 0 for 6, and he didn't officially attempt a two-point shot (he made two free throws when fouled on his only other shot).

2. Give Byrd splinters.  I'd love to see DJ Byrd lose his starting job and ride the bench.  He's been a horrible leader for this team as the only senior, he's a liability due to how ineffectively he's shooting the ball, and let's all admit this year is a "growing season" so why bother giving him the playing time that won't help the freshmen mature.  Maybe off the bench he can get out of his shooting slump and be a spark plug when needed.  Byrd played a ridiculous 39 minutes and for that much time on the court, his stats were garbage.  At one point in the first half he had to go to the bench to get some black bandages applied on his arm (was he bleeding?).  My astute friend noted that the black armband must be in remembrance of his dearly departed three-point shooting ability.

3. The kids are alright.  My proposed starting lineup for Painter for the remainder of the season: play the freshmen as much as you can to get them ready for next year.  Right now Purdue starts three freshmen (Hammons, Ronnie, and Davis), but I'd love to see Donnie Hale start as well (in place of Byrd).  Hale had a great game, showing hustle, shooting touch (10 points on eight shots, including some nice corner jumpers), rebounding acumen (10 boards!), and control (only one turnover).  What a well-earned double-double.  Watching the game with a buddy, we found ourselves frequently yelling "Hale Yeah" (say it out loud if you don't get it).

4. For relaxing times, make it Sun-Toyra Time.  So who else nearly spat out their beer when they saw that walk-on Stephen Toyra was the first man off the bench?  Anyone else hold their breath expecting an ensuing technical foul for Toyra not even being on the official roster, ala John Hart against Illinois a couple years ago?  Painter sent a clear message when he sat Terone less than four minutes into the game and went with the walk-on, and I wish the message had been sent sooner.  But it wasn't just a ploy, in his first minute on the court Toyra drew a charge and pulled down a rebound.  Now that is something to root for!  I'm not joking when I say that I hope he gets some playing time against Michigan State, since sometimes this team is hard to cheer for when they are playing lazy or dumb, but I will always cheer like crazy for Toyra.  Hey, why not even let him start alongside his fellow freshmen, starting all five of the rookies?  Sure it's crazy, but crazy is OK with me right now.

5. There's a thin line between love and hate.  Man, sometimes I just look at something Ronnie Johnson does and I shake my head out of disappointment.  And other times I find myself still shaking my head out of amazement.  Thankfully on Tuesday he evoked more of the latter, as he had a 16 point, 5 rebound night with only one turnover.  Warranted, against a better team, some of his sloppier ball handling in the first half would have resulted in more turnovers, but he played to his strengths, didn't jack up silly long jumpers, and showed the flashes that tell us he's going to be really good one day.  This was also much needed after poor games against IU and Northwestern.  Now if only he could hit a dang free throw...

6. You've heard of the Hack-a-Shaq strategy, but did you ever expect to see a team try to Slap-a-Johnson? With how bad Terone and Ronnie both shoot free throws, teams should consider fouling them in the final minutes of a close game but definitely not Hammons who went 11 for 12 at the charity stripe.  Faithful readers, please help this phrase catch on.  "Down late and trying to come from behind?  Slap a Johnson!"

7. Call FTD and order Terone a slumpbuster for Valentine's Day.  He shot 3 for 12, missed all his three point attempts, committed four fouls, and didn't even rebound as strong as her normally does (3).  Against Northwestern he was even worse, 2 for 11, and against IU a paltry 2 for 6.  I know he was sick for a few days, but something else must be very wrong.

8.  It's painful to think about how much we'll miss Hammons after next season.  Yes, he sometimes plays with low energy, for instance I'd love to see him actually leave his feet for every attempted rebound, but AJ Hammons is the only sure-fire thing going for this team right now.  He tallied 15 points on only five shot attempts thanks to drawing lots of contact and nailing 11 of his 12 free throws while also pulling down 12 boards (yep, two Boiler freshmen with double-doubles, didn't see that coming).  As the team continues to rebuild, it's a shame we likely won't see him develop and lead this team for three or four years.  Unless something changes with how competitive the Boilers are next season or his development plateaus, AJ's bags will be packed for the NBA after one more year.

Fingers crossed the Boilers can bring their A game on Saturday night.  We haven't seen 40 minutes of it in a long, long time.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Basketball Preview: Purdue at Penn State - February 5th - 7:00 pm - BTN

Can I interest you in an exciting opportunity to spend your Tuesday night watching some of the most fantastic basketball known to man?  Both teams have only gone 4 games without shooting higher than 40% from the field!  Could one of the teams actually break the streak and hit that elusive number tomorrow night? Can the visitors continue their trend of decreasing their loss margin by 60% per game?  Can the home team get their first win in the toughest conference in the nation and keep their .500 conference-record hopes alive?  So many questions to answer! Not interested yet?  What if I told you I can almost guarantee at least 5,000 people will be an attendance!  You won't want to miss it!

Oh, and you can switch over to ESPN to watch Ohio State/Michigan afterwards in case you want to see some ho-hum boring basketball between two top 10 teams.

Terone's a bit perplexed.

Why Purdue Will Win
Does anybody know what team is going to show up tomorrow night?  Purdue has a huge talent advantage in this one and has already blown out Penn State at home.  The Boilers held Penn State's big trio of D.J. Newbill, Jermaine Marshall, and Brandon "Half Court" Taylor to 10 for 39 from the field in their last meeting.  Really, if Purdue can hold those three to 35% or less, it's going to be very tough for Penn State to put up enough points to hang with the Boilermakers.

Why Penn State Will Win
The Nittany Lions aren't good at many things, but one thing they excel at is offensive rebounds.  We all know how Purdue struggles on the defensive boards, so expect Penn State to get plenty of second chance opportunities. Penn State hung around in their most recent game at Iowa, even though they lost the offensive rebound battle and committed 17 turnovers.  If they can limit the turnovers, expect this game to come down to the wire.

One thing you absolutely need to know before the game 
Penn State may be 0-9 in Big Ten play, but they do own a victory over a team that beat Purdue. Amazingly, the Nittany Lions knocked off Bucknell and handed them their first loss of the season.  The Bison still have an RPI of 57 - imagine what it would be if they had taken care of business in Happy Valley.

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 2.5 points.

Erik's Bet: $1
Erik's Pick: Purdue 62 - Penn State 59

Kirk's Bet: $8
Kirk's Pick: Purdue 68 - Penn State 61

Erik +221 (17-7 Against The Spread)
Kirk -154 (9-15 Against The Spread)

Values already bet
Erik 1-7, 9-15, 17, 21, 23-28, 30-32
Kirk 8-32


Monday, February 4, 2013

Basketball Recap: Northwestern 75 - Purdue 60

Well, it was such a miserable week that it took until Monday to put any recap together.  Kirk is still curled up in the fetal position from last week's ass-whopping, so it looks like I'm going to have to put the week into words. 

One thing I've taken from being a Cleveland and Purdue sports fan is that things are rarely as bad as they seem.  I've seen A LOT of bad.  Right now may seem like one of the worst times that Purdue basketball fans can remember, however we have to realize that Purdue lost two games they were supposed to lose.  The Boilers' top scorer was sick enough to be quarantined from the team and missed practice last week, and we played two teams that couldn't miss from the field.  Yes, some of it was bad defense, but at the same time, you're NOT going to beat a top 5 team that shoots 49% from the field and 95% from the free throw line.  And you're NOT going to beat a team on the road that shoots 53% from the field and turns the ball over 5 times.  I don't care if you're playing the Little Sisters of the Poor.

This shot probably went in.

Reggie Hearn started the game 9 for 9 and pretty much buried the Boilermakers by halftime.  Down 21 with under 13 minutes to go, Purdue finally showed some life, putting up a rare 7-point play (the only bad thing about 7-point plays is that they're almost always accompanied by multiple missed free throws...I guess that makes Purdue one of the most likely teams in the nation to pull this feat off!).  The possession was followed up by a Ronnie Johnson layup, and Purdue had nearly cut the lead in half in less than 2 minutes of play.  Unfortunately Jared Swopshire hit a big three and the Boilers would go 5 minutes without making another field goal.  During that drought, Purdue had a 2 minute stretch in which they took 1 shot.  Awful.

There's not much else to say about the game.  AJ Hammons once again put up some huge numbers and somehow won Big Ten Freshman of the Week, even though Purdue had one of their worst weeks in recent memory. Interestingly, the team seems to do better when Hammons doesn't put up big numbers, showing we can't rely on the big guy to carry us.  The Boilers still have several signature games left on the calendar, but they're going to need some confidence in order to compete.  That confidence will hopefully start tomorrow in Happy Valley. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings - Conference Season #4

It was a very predictable week in the Big Ten, which makes for little movement in the power rankings.  Let's be honest, no Purdue fan really wants to be writing about basketball, let alone praising their conference rivals right now.  So instead of rationale for the rankings, I present some venting haiku.

On to the rankings,
where all I have to say is:
Let's go Michigan!

1.   Michigan (20-1, 7-1) [Last week's rank: 1]

Please just keep winning
Especially this weekend
Because IU sucks

2.   Indiana (19-2, 7-1) [Last week's rank: 2]

Enjoy this feeling
Because in March I can't wait
To laugh at your fall

3.   Michigan State (18-4, 7-2) [Last week's rank: 3]

All around the Big
We used to respect your class
But now you're an ass

4.   Ohio State (16-4, 6-2) [Last week's rank: 4]

Thomas sure looks good
But your fans are annoying
So I still hate you

5.   Wisconsin (14-7, 5-3) [Last week's rank: 5]

You got a big head
By beating the Hoosiers (thanks)
Head too big for body

6.   Minnesota (16-5, 4-4) [Last week's rank: 6]

A bunch of dumb thugs
Exposed as Tubby's failure
Go on, keep losing

7.   Purdue (11-10, 4-4) [Last week's rank: 8]

I am disappoint
You don't deserve this rank, but
Everyone sucks more

8.  Iowa (14-7, 3-5) [Last week's rank: 7]

Cry yourself to sleep
Because you lost to Purdue
Make some clutch free throws

9.  Northwestern (12-10, 3-6) [Last week's rank: 9]

You may feel better
After playing Saturday
If you wear crimson

10.   Illinois (15-7, 2-6) [Last week's rank: 10]

Our friend Bruce Weber
Is laughing his head off at
Your futility

11.  Nebraska (11-11, 2-7) [Last week's rank: 11]

Beating the Wildcats
Was a surprise victory
Rooting you win out

12.  Penn State (8-13, 0-9) [Last week's rank: 12]

Almost a year since
You won your last Big Ten game
Please suck on Tuesday

Basketball Preview: Purdue at Northwestern - February 2nd - 12:00 pm - ESPN2

I'm not quite ready to write a post discussing the IU game.  It's just so disgusting to think about.  But I need to post this preview before the Boilers actually face Northwestern in Evanston on Saturday afternoon, a game they desperately need to write the ship.  This will be a huge moment for Purdue - they'll either crumble for the remainder of the season, having been deflated so badly, or they'll rise back up, brush off the horrible loss to Indiana, and continue to develop.  I obviously hope it's the latter, both to see the Boilers succeed, but also to make sure that they don't give more power to the Hoosiers than they deserve.

Not quite sure what Bill Carmody is doing.
I don't think I want to know.
At least no one thinks he's a sleazy scumbag.

Why Purdue Will Win
If the Boilers can't get motivated to win after being curb-stomped by Indiana, then they don't deserve to play basketball anymore.  Now that doesn't mean they'll win, just that there will be effort shown, unlike Wednesday night. We could all see how pissed AJ Hammons was, putting up a simply amazing performance while his teammates almost created a vacuum with their massive sucking, so I expect him to keep up the effort and attitude and have another great game against Northwestern.  The Wildcats center, Alex Olah, is nothing to worry about or slow down Hammons.  If Purdue can hit a few shots from outside to handle the Wildcat zone defense, it'll open things up inside.  Maybe we'll see Donnie Hale have another nice game off the bench hitting jumpers from the elbow while also working inside, or a fatigued Northwestern team (they actually played hard for a full 40 minutes earlier this week) will give in to the Boiler slashers.

Why Northwestern Will Win
Even though Northwestern isn't a particularly good team, especially since losing Drew Crawford for the season back in December, they are still a tough win on the road.  Their zone defense can drive a team crazy, especially a sloppy, undisciplined one like Purdue.  On the offensive side, while they won't put up lots of points, Reggie Hearn always has the potential to go off, although at 6-4 he's the type of guard the Boilers can actually shut down, if they're working on defense.  The Wildcats are averaging less than 55 per game over the last six games, but they were able to hold Minnesota to only 48 points and Illinois to 54 on the road.  On a neutral court, ignoring the recent IU loss, I'd pick Purdue nine times out of ten, but I think the home court advantage and Hoosier Hangover will be a little too much on Saturday.

One thing you absolutely need to know before the game 
This game is going to be brutally ugly, in my opinion.  If you think the Iowa game was boring in the first half, try not to take an afternoon nap on Saturday when watching this one.  Purdue will have lots of trouble with the Wildcat zone, and unless someone gets unexpectedly hot from long range (cough - DJ where are you? - cough), points are going to be rare.  So be sure to get a good night's sleep, drink some coffee, eat some chocolate, or else you may fall asleep on the couch.  Or, if you're like me, you can just keep yourself awake by yelling at the TV.

Our Picks - We like to think we're better than Vegas (let's be honest, that's just Erik).  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 Northwestern by 1.5 points.

Erik's Bet: $4
Erik's Pick: Purdue 55 - Northwestern 51

Kirk's Bet: $9
Kirk's Pick: Northwestern 60 - Purdue 58

Erik +225 (17-6 Against The Spread)
Kirk -163 (8-15 Against The Spread)

Values already bet
Erik 2-7, 9-15, 17, 21, 23-28, 30-32
Kirk 9-32