Friday, March 29, 2013

Basketball Recap - CBI Elite Eight: Santa Clara 86 - Purdue 83

3,629 fans and a few diehard internet streamers saw the end of the worst Boilermaker basketball season since 2006.  For those that were able to see it, the game was unlike any Purdue fans had seen this year and had one of the wildest finishes imaginable.  Santa Clara hit what seemed to be a dozen "daggers", yet somehow the Boilers had two shots to tie it at the end of the game.

Kevin Foster was dominant - probably since he was twice as tall as any Purdue defender

Admittedly, I didn't find the stream until nearly halftime (I listened to the radio feed before that), as I had no interest in paying $10 for a shoddy feed.  If I HAD paid?  This post would have been written 4 days from now, because I would have spent an entire week trying to get my money back. More on this in a bit...

Purdue seemed to take control at the half after a really slow start with 4 turnovers and only 2 points at the first tv timeout.  Threes were not falling for the Boilers, but they did close the half on an 18-7 run.

The second half was a different story.  Broncos guard Kevin Foster put on a show for the ages as he scored 29 of his 35 points in the second half, including several shots with Boilermakers all over him.  Purdue couldn't keep up despite a career-high 27 points from Ronnie Johnson and 22 from brother Terone (while taking combined 43 shots!), and found itself down 10 with 1:55 to go.

That's when things started to get interesting.  A layup, steal, and another layup by Ronnie Johnson put the Boilers within 6.  An immediate foul led to two Santa Clara free throws, but was followed up by a 3-point play by Marcius.  Purdue was intent on extending the game, but the Broncos kept making their free throws.  Down 7 with 1:20 left, Ronnie Johnson got yet another layup.  A steal by Byrd then led to Ronnie's 4th layup in 45 seconds - this one with a foul.  All the sudden, Purdue was down 2 with a minute to play and no longer had to foul!

A great defensive possession brought the shot clock down under 10, when none other than Kevin Foster hit a fade away three with Terone Johnson in his face.  Foster had just beaten the Boilermakers.  Or so everyone had thought.  After a wild possession with an offensive rebound, Terone hit a miracle runner in the lane and got the foul as well.  19 seconds left and down 2, Santa Clara was ready to inbound the ball.  What happened next?  Hell if I know.  Now seems like the perfect time to rant against BTDN...

BTDN collected $10 from several people on Monday who wanted to watch this game.  In return, BTDN tapped into the scoreboard video and Purdue radio feeds.  The fact that these were synced up was pretty cool, however the video feed was awful.  Camera angles appeared to be chosen by third graders, resulting in numerous missed plays.  But the absolute worst was at the point of the game I just left off at.  19 seconds, big inbounds pass.  All the sudden, the words "MAKE SOME NOISE!!!" and "LOUDER" come flashing across the screen, completely obscuring anything that was happening on the court.  This means "viewers" were stuck with Cliz describing the huge steal the Boilers got at this point.  And they were ALSO stuck with the description of the shot Purdue missed after that steal.  Embarrassing...if I had paid for this and missed the two biggest plays of the game, I would be demanding my money back.

After the missed shot, Santa Clara made two more free throws which appeared to ice the game once again.  This gave the Boilers an opportunity to try their full court football pass play, which amazingly worked to perfection. 4 seconds remained, and Purdue was down two.   Kevin Foster finally missed a free throw and DJ Byrd threw a perfect pass to a streaking Terone Johnson.  Somehow, Terone got a normal-looking three pointer off to tie the game from just behind the arc.  It just missed.  Had that shot gone, it would've capped one of the craziest finishes Purdue has ever been a part of.

Santa Clara went on to beat Wright State last night and gets at least 2 more games against George Mason.  Meanwhile, the Boilers bow out of the tourney getting only 2 games out of the deal.  A disappointing end to a disappointing season - we'll have more over the next couple of weeks.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Basketball Preview: Purdue vs. Santa Clara - CBI MADNESS - March 25th - 7:00pm - BTDN (ugh)

After winning their first game in the CBI, the Boilers have saved a little face (unlike the only other big conference team in the tournament).  Now it's time to win the whole enchilada, I suppose.  The next step is beating Santa Clara tonight.

Why Purdue Will Win
By now you know everything about this Purdue team, which still means you probably have no idea if they'll win or lose, so join the club, and we won't rehash it all again here.  Though it costs the athletic department $50,000, Purdue has home court advantage, which hopefully is the real edge in this game if the fans and Paint Crew bother to show up.  After the Western Illinois game, I thought the attendance would surely get better if the team played well (since Santa Clara is actually decent, too), but with the blizzard that I hear is currently hitting the midwest (yes, I'm rubbing it in that I'm surrounded by palm trees), I'm not too confident anyone will be there.  If you go, be loud! Purdue is probably taking a loss on this game for your benefit!

Why Santa Clara Will Win
Santa Clara is a much better team than Western Illinois, and this game should be much closer.  If the Boilers start as poorly as they did last week, Santa Clara may end up building an insurmountable lead.  The Broncos have only one notable win on the season (and only one against an NCAA Tournament team), beating St. Louis on the road in the second game of the season.  Of course we all saw how overrated St. Louis was this weekend. Santa Clara averages over 75 points per game with the vast majority coming from their guards, including senior star Kevin Foster who averages over 18 points per contest.  The only inside scoring presence for the Broncos is senior forward Marc Trasolini, and he averages more points than Terone Johnson, and at 6-9, he could be s difficult matchup because Santa Clara also starts a 7-footer in Robert Garrett.  With adequate size, good guard play, and strong senior leadership, this seems like it could be quite a difficult matchup for the Boilers.

Santa Clara also features sophomore point guard Brandon Clark, who is their fifth leading scorer.  Clark is from East Chicago and went to Merrillville HS, so he may have a breakout game playing against Purdue.  Clark had offers from Harvard and Bucknell and while Illinois and Nebraska checked him out, he didn't have any major program offers.  Guys like that always seem to play with an extra edge when back on their turf.

The best thing to come out of Santa Clara
(Kurt Rambis, you can be a distant second)
One thing you absolutely need to know before the game
It sounds like the CBI heard all our gripes about AXS TV, so the game won't be broadcast there.  But we should be careful what we wish for.  Instead the game is going to be on te Big Ten Digital Network.  As Sir Charles would say, "That's just turrrible."  Apparently a lot of fans could see the game for free on AXS, despite it's horrible production value, and now those same fans have to pay the Big Ten more money to watch it online.  Fans like me that have no access to AXS (see what I did there?) now have an option to watch the game.  Although finding an illegal streaming website was at least a free option last game (and let me watch the pleasant second half, after missing the dreadful first half against Western Illinois).

If you remember from earlier this season, we are not fans of the broadcast capabilities of the BTDN.  Seriously, why isn't this game on the main Big Ten Network?  Instead they'll be showing a couple installments of "Big Ten's Greatest Games."  That's right.  They think more people will watch an old rebroadcast basketball game than a tournament game featuring the 7th place* team in the conference?  Whatever.

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. For this game we are betting whatever the heck we want. The spread for this game is Purdue by 6.5.

Erik's Bet: $64 (8 squared in honor of being in the "elite eight")
Erik's Pick: Purdue 65 - Santa Clara 63

Kirk's Bet: $99 (the percent chance I will lose in all my bracket competitions, after winning them all last year)
Kirk's Pick: Purdue 69 - Santa Clara 68

Erik +424 (25-10 Against The Spread)
Kirk -52 (15-20 Against The Spread)

Boiler Up!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Basketball Recap - CBI First Round: Purdue 81 - Western Illinois 67

In what was supposed to be one of the lowest scoring games in NCAA and surely CBI history, Purdue and Western Illinois shocked the world (or at least the 5,000 people watching the game in person or on tv) by putting up a combined 148 points.

The Leathernecks, missing their top 2 players put a scare in Purdue early by starting on fire from the field, scoring 32 points in the first 14 minutes of the game.  In that time period, bench player Don McAvoy III did his best "Roy 'Tin Cup' McAvoy after 11 strokes" impression and drained everything for a quick 10 points.  Meanwhile, Remy Roberts-Burnett had 11 as both players were already above their season average.  Luckily the Leathernecks went cold allowing the Boilermakers to take the lead by halftime - a lead Purdue wouldn't give up.

Purdue had gone 1 for 4 in the first half from 3-point range, but went a blistering 6 for 7 in the second half to really take control.  Byrd hit three in the first 8 minutes and the ONLY missed 3-pointer happened in the last minute from Jacob Lawson (!). 

Both teams put up some shocking numbers considering both typically try to slow the game down. Western Illinois played two games this year in which neither team scored 40 points (WITH their two best players!).  Clearly, 50% shooting and 67 points was an anomaly.  However, thank goodness the Boilermakers were on fire, as this had the potential of being an embarrassing loss - Purdue shot 59% from the field, 64% from three-point range, and 92% from the free throw line.   If the Boilermakers can put up that sort of effort on the offensive end for the rest of the tourney, Purdue will be your 2013 CBI champs.

No love for Dru Anthrop's excellent game in this post, so here's a picture of one of his four assists

Next up is Santa Clara, which is NOT on AXS tv.  AXS's graphics and announcers made it feel like it was a high school game on public access tv (how many ways can you botch Sandi Marcius' name?), but at least it was free to many fans around the country.  Unfortunately, the next game is on BTDN, meaning you have to pay to watch it.  We'll let you know more in our preview, but if you're in the area, you might as well spend your money getting a ticket to the game.  Santa Clara's a good team and it should be a good basketball game.

Boiler Up!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Basketball Preview: Purdue vs. Western Illinois - CBI MADNESS - March 20th - 7:00pm - Some channel you don't get (AXS TV)

Who is excited for some CBI Tournament basketball?!  OK, calm down Morgan Burke and return to your seat.  As for me, this game is a lose-lose, and here are all the reasons why:
  1. Trying to turn games against teams like Western Illinois, Santa Clara, Bryant, and North Dakota State into something meaningful makes my brain hurt.
  2. If Purdue loses on Wednesday, it's pretty embarrassing.
  3. Actually, it's embarrassing just to be in this tournament.  Of course I'm glad the Boilers didn't have an even worse record, but prolonging a disappointing season isn't particularly fun.
  4. Honestly though, anything short of winning this entire thing (or possibly losing to Texas in the final) is a reason to hang your head.
  5. The majority of Purdue's fanbase will be unable to watch the game on TV.  What the heck is an AXS?  You know it's a pathetic excuse for a post-season tournament when it's barely being broadcast.
  6. Because I'm irrationally loyal and either addicted or masochistic, I was planning to watch the game.  In fact, I was scheduled to do the recap, but I can't and had to switch duties with Erik.  I'm in the majority that doesn't have AXS.TV.NET.COM.PARAGUAY even though my current residence has every other HD channel imaginable.
The only positive reason for this game is to get a little more experience for the young Boilers.  I suppose extra game time can't hurt...unless the play and result are so demoralizing that they cause a nine month hangover.  But can it honestly get any worse than losing to Nebraska in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament?

The Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl of NCAA basketball

So get fired up for the Leathernecks vs. the Boilermakers - those nicknames just scream intensity!

Why Purdue Will Win
Western Illinois isn't very good, having not beaten or really even played a quality opponent all season (hey, they beat Yale though, whoohoo!).  They will be missing their top two scorers for this game after senior guard Ceola Clark suffered a knee injury against North Dakota State.  Forward Terell Parks, who was named Defensive Player of the Year in the Summit League, suffered a foot injury and has missed the team's last four games.  Both those guys were first team all-conference, so look for the Leathernecks to struggle without them.  Western also has no real size to compete with Hammons or Marcius, so expect big nights from the big men.  The game is also at Mackey, so the Boilers have that home crowd advantage going for them, assuming anyone shows up.

Why Western Illinois Will Win
Because they care about this game and entire tournament more than Purdue?  That's all I got.

One thing you absolutely need to know before the game Things I learned on Wikipedia: Western Illinois is in Macomb, Illinois, which is closer to both Iowa and Missouri than any relevant city or town in Illinois.  Western has some notable alumni playing in the NFL, but by far their most prestigious alumnus is political consultant Mary Matalin.  She holds the Guinness World Record for most days legally married to a snake/Gollum/Skeletor/an alien wearing human skin as a poor disguise (you choose which one, it's still quite a record).

Definitely a face even uglier than IU's coach

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.  For this game we decided to bet the number of nicknames we could name for teams that made the NCAA Tournament.  Erik is apparently a savant.  The spread for this game is Purdue by 12.

Erik's Bet: $61
Erik's Pick: Purdue 64 - Western Illinois 41

Kirk's Bet: $52
Kirk's Pick: Purdue 67 - Western Illinois 53

Erik +363 (24-10 Against The Spread)
Kirk -104 (14-20 Against The Spread)

Boiler Up!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Basketball Recap: Nebraska 57 - Purdue 55

Well, it's nearly two days later and I'm still sick to my stomach.  It's not that I didn't see it coming, I just figured Nebraska would blow it late since they've had trouble holding leads all year.  For anyone who watched Iowa's collapse last night, or saw the same Nebraska team in the second half against OSU - that's what I expected.

And really, the Cornhuskers DID fall apart down the stretch.  With 12:30 to go in the game, Nebraska held on to an 8 point lead and had 45 points.   Over the next 8 minutes and 45 seconds, the Cornhuskers scored a total of 3 points and STILL HELD THE LEAD! Yes, with 3:45 to go, they still led 48-47.  Nebraska scored 12 points total in the last 12 1/2 minutes (a 38-point pace over an entire game) and snuck out of the United Center with an ugly 57-55 win.

I'm pretty sure every player and fan felt like this after the game

Give Nebraska credit though as they capitalized on the one thing they do well: taking care of the ball.  You may recall the Cornhuskers only had 2 turnovers in the first meeting between these 2 teams which is why it was a close game despite Purdue winning the FG% battle 45% to 33%.  Sure enough in the rematch, Nebraska shot 45% and didn't give the Boilers any easy baskets on turnovers (6 TO's on Thursday).  Add that to the fact that Brandon Ubel was missing in the original matchup, and the Boilers HAD to play better than they did in Lincoln to pull this one off.

They didn't.  Anthony Johnson reverted to the AJ prior to the Minnesota game, DJ Byrd missed his first 6 three pointers, and Terone fought foul trouble and couldn't get his floater to drop.  But the most aggravating and disappointing part of the game was free throws.  Purdue went 3 for 10 in the second half from the line and went 2 for 7 in the last 6 minutes.  Not the formula you need to pull off a comeback.

Yet the Boilers STILL had chances to send this game into overtime.  First off, with 34 seconds to go, Ray Gallegos missed a free throw to keep the lead at 2.  The Boilers did a great job of boxing out...and then didn't grab the ball!  Three Boilers watched the ball hit the ground and let Gold and Black killer Shavon Shields come from outside the arc to nab a killer offensive rebound.  The Cornhuskers then missed another free throw, giving Purdue yet ANOTHER chance.  With 15 seconds left and down 3, AJ Hammons got the ball in the post and made one the best passes I've seen him make - to a WIDE OPEN Ronnie Johnson.  Ronnie had surprisingly been shooting jump shots fairly well and put up a good looking 3-pointer (on tv, it looked like it was going in).  It clanged off the rim, but Byrd was there with the put back to keep Purdue alive.

Another foul sent the Cornhuskers back to the line.  Nebraska missed only 5 free throws all game, yet 4 of them came within the last minute.  The 4th gave the Boilers one last possession to either tie or win it.  Terone ended up with 2 separate floaters sandwiched around an offensive rebound, but couldn't get either of them to fall.  They were tough shots for sure, but after his unbelievable Michigan game, fans have come to expect him to hit those shots.  Nebraska had really tightened up and overtime would have heavily favored Purdue.  Instead, the Cornhuskers got their first ever Big Ten Tourney win and got to finally face someone other than Purdue in the tournament.

It wouldn't be a recap of mine without mentioning the refs.  Ted Valentine AND Ed Hightower both refereed this one and amazingly I didn't feel like the officiating was that bad.  Interestingly enough there were only 14 fouls called on each team, yet 2 players fouled out and 3 others had 4 fouls apiece.  5 players had 79% of the foul calls...very strange.

AJ Hammons had no fouls in the game.  That makes it difficult to explain this picture.

Give Nebraska coach Tim Miles a lot of credit...he doesn't have a great team.  However, his defensive schemes dared Purdue to take the 3 and pretty much looked to shut down the floaters that the Boilermakers have become known for.  A frustrating loss for sure, but Purdue needed to hit outside shots.  They didn't, Shavon Shields hit everything, and that was the ball game.

What's next for this team?  Is anything next?  Matt Painter said prior to the game that the Boilers would accept a bid to the College Basketball Invitational if invited.  Of course, that was expecting the fans to still be geared up after a fantastic end to the season and an assumed tough loss to Ohio State.  I mentioned in the comments of Kirk's preview that this was the reason the Nebraska game was the most important game of the season.  A win, and I bet the Boilers get 9,500 fans into Mackey for a small tournament game.  With the loss, however, I'd be surprised to see more than 5,000 people there.  Remember, these games aren't included in season tickets, so fans have to want to go.  A sour-tasting loss to Nebraska is not the way to get Boilermaker fans excited about paying more money to see this team and Purdue (and the CBI) may not find it financially beneficial to play these games.  We'll find out more on Sunday night or Monday morning.

Meanwhile, I'm hoping for a CBI bid.  I'd love to see these guys get as much playing time as possible, even if they're sometimes painful to watch.  Most CBI games will be televised on a random HD channel called AXS TV.   I've never heard of this channel, but amazingly I get it.  And if you have HD, you probably get it too, as you can find it on satellite, AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and at least 30 different tv providers around the country.  I found mine on AT&T Uverse right by TBS and TNT - I'm guessing they get less than a penny per subscriber, but at least that means us out-of-towners might get watch some more games.

We'll have much more if this truly is the last game, but in the meantime, it's my duty and obligation to point out that I have completely dominated this season against the spread and against Kirk - potentially finishing above 70% for the season!  Just don't ask me to pick the winners, as my Big Ten Tourney predictions were just awful.

Erik +363 (24-10 Against The Spread)
Kirk -104 (14-20 Against The Spread)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Basketball Preview: Purdue vs. Nebraska - Big Ten Tournament - March 14th - 6:30pm - ESPN2

It's time for the Big Ten Tournament.  You already know who's going to win every single game if you read this smart guy's predictions (and not those of this questionable prognosticator), but I'll give a brief preview for this game anyway.

Why Purdue Will Win
If they play like the same Boilermaker team that showed up in the last three games, Purdue will win handily.  They say it's tough to beat a team three times in the same season, so maybe the Boilers are lucky they only faced Nebraska once this regular season.  That game saw the good guys win by nine points on the road, so history is in Purdue's favor, too.

Why Nebraska Will Win
The Huskers aren't ending the regular season on any kind of hot streak, but they have played some good teams tough, namely a nine point loss to MSU and a seven point loss at Illinois.  They also beat Minnesota for a marquee win a week ago, but now we know that isn't so special.  However, when they lost to Purdue earlier this season, Nebraska was missing senior Brandon Ubel, the teams third-leading scorer and leading rebounder.  Maybe he'll be the difference.

1996, the last year Nebraska won anything relevant (the NIT)
This team featured three NBA players: Erick Strickland, Mikki Moore, and Tyronn Lue!

One thing you absolutely need to know before the game
There isn't a hidden storyline here.  We all know that if Purdue has any chance of making the NIT, the need to win this game.  Heck, they may even need to win it to get invited to the silly CBI.  That means that if the Boilers lose, the season is over.  Let's not end on the note of losing a game we're strongly favored to win, but it's also scary that the Boilers could easily get caught looking past Nebraska to the Buckeyes waiting in the wings.

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.  For the post-season games, we are each allowed to bet any value that is a sum of two jersey numbers from the current team's roster.  Once we select a player's number, we can't use it again.  The spread for this game is Purdue by 5.5.

Erik's Bet: $35, going with the seniors: DJ Byrd (21) and Dru Anthrop (14)
Erik's Pick: Purdue 61 - Nebraska 58

Kirk's Bet: $105, taking the most he can get to gain ground on Erik: Sandi Marcius (55) and Travis Carroll (50)
Kirk's Pick: Purdue 67 - Nebraska 60.

Erik +328 (23-10 Against The Spread)
Kirk +1 (14-19 Against The Spread)

Boiler Up!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

2013 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament Predictions - Part 2

It's been a long time since Purdue has been in this situation - win 4 games in 4 days, or watch the NCAA Tourney from home.  But with Purdue playing as well as they've played all year and putting themselves in the easier half of the bracket, who knows what will happen?  Oh, that's right...I do.  Unlike your second favorite contributor's picks from yesterday, I actually know how the Big Ten Tourney is going to pan out.  So save yourself the time from watching the games and just read on...

Thursday games:

#8 Illinois vs. #9 Minnesota - 12pm - BTN
I thought Kirk's recap of the Minnesota game was excellent, but he failed to mention one aspect of the game that was simply excruciating...listening to Eric Collins tell everyone 122 times that Purdue would be facing Minnesota in this game.  Meanwhile, if you read our preview, you knew that it was very likely that Purdue would end up the 7 seed.  Mr. Collins, you were wrong.  But Mr. Kirk, you're right.  Illinois wins this game in a blowout.

#5 Michigan vs. #12 Penn State - 2:30pm - BTN
Yeah yeah, I know Penn State's played them tough and beat them in Happy Valley.  It's not going to happen.  Michigan wins another blowout, leaving the early session fans upset that "we left work for this???"

#7 Purdue vs. #10 Nebraska - 6:30pm - ESPN2
This will be the only good game of the day, but "good" is only being used in the fact that it'll be a close one.  After playing 3 great games in 7 days, Purdue is rusty with over 5 full days of rest and just barely squeaks this one out.

#6 Iowa vs. #11 Northwestern - 9pm - ESPN2
The crowd will be behind Northwestern and Iowa's been iffy on the road, but Iowa wins an ugly one.

Friday games:

#1 Indiana vs. #8 Illinois - 12pm - ESPN
This should be a good game as I expect Illinois to put up a good fight.  However, Indiana is just too good right now to lose this one.

#4 Wisconsin vs. #5 Michigan - 2:30pm - ESPN
Finally around 4:30 pm on Friday, I will finally take the lead over Kirk.  Sure Michigan has been struggling a bit.  But Wisconsin is REALLY struggling.  Michigan by 15.

#2 Ohio State vs. #7 Purdue - 6:30pm - BTN
Amazingly, Purdue CAN still make the NIT if they lose this one.  The NIT got rid of the .500 rule a couple of years back, even though they've never picked a team with more losses than wins.  Luckily for Purdue, they don't need to worry about being the first as DeShaun Thomas goes 4 for 23, AJ Hammons goes off against Ohio State's weak bigs, and the Boilers pull off the upset of the tournament.  There, I've written my preview AND recap for this one.

#3 Michigan State vs. #6 Iowa - 9pm - BTN
Quick - name the last ranked team Iowa's beat this year.  Time's up.  If you answered none, you're correct.  It'll be "none" after this game as well. Iowa's 6-seed is the result of a kind Big Ten schedule in which they avoided playing two games against Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan, and Illinois.  The Spartans win easily.

Saturday games:

#1 Indiana vs. #5 Michigan - 1:40pm - CBS
It's payback time for Michigan. Tom Crean's ridiculous angry outburst after beating the Wolverines in the season finale has Michigan ready for this one.  So Crean cuts down the nets after losing the conference clinching game, yet he berates an opposing coach after clinching it?  One wonders if he'll hang a banner in the United Center after biting the dust against Michigan.

#7 Purdue vs. #3 Michigan State - 4:15pm - CBS
The Spartans get caught looking ahead towards the Wolverines in the finals and get smoked in the first half by a ridiculously hot DJ Byrd.  Michigan State comes back and cuts it to one with 3 minutes left, but Terone Johnson hits a couple of huge floaters and brother Ronnie goes 4 for 4 from the line in the last 2 minutes to seal the game for Purdue.

Sunday championship:

#5 Michigan vs. #7 Purdue - 3:30pm - CBS
Saturday night blends into Sunday morning as Purdue fans pull an all-nighter trying to figure out what their tourney seed could be if they actually won this thing (spoiler alert - while they would be more accurately slotted as a 11 or 12, the committee doesn't DARE put them that high because it would royally mess up their play-in games at the 12-seed.  Instead, Purdue would be an underrated 13-seed against Arizona, Oklahoma St, Kansas St, or Marquette.  I still like those matchups - especially Arizona.).  Unfortunately, Boilermaker fans and yours truly fail to remember that Purdue played one of its best games of the season and still lost at home to the Wolverines.  Trey Burke's drive and dish kills Purdue for the third straight game and Michigan wins a close one despite the refs being mandated to help the Boilers win for the good of the Big Ten.  Unfortunately, a gut-wrenching loss for Purdue leads to a first-round NIT exit at the hands of Middle Tennessee State. 

Despite the loss on Sunday, we have quite a weekend in store for us.  Enjoy!

2013 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament Predictions

With the regular season concluded, it's time for the conference tournament.  Below, I pick who I think will win each game.  Erik will likely post to do the same, and we'll see who gets bragging rights (we'll still be placing individual bets for any game featuring the Boilers).  Will any team not destined for the NCAA Tournament make a big run?  Will IU blow it and jeopardize their #1 seed in the Big Dance?  Can Iowa do enough to make it off the bubble?
That G is sure going to make a nice 6 in 17 months

Thursday games:

#8 Illinois vs. #9 Minnesota - 12pm - BTN
This game is a total toss up of talented yet horribly inconsistent teams.  Your guess is as good as mine, but fortunately whoever wins has already beaten the Hoosiers!  I'll take Illinois in a narrow win, simply because the Gophers are playing pretty poorly on the road, and a tournament game in Chicago might as well be a home game for the Illini.

#5 Michigan vs. #12 Penn State - 2:30pm - BTN
As much as I like how the Nittany Lions are playing lately, no longer a guaranteed win on the schedule for conference rivals and avoiding blowouts to the better teams, Michigan is going to be aching for a win after blowing their lead against IU.  Also, the conference tournament is all about revenge, and Michigan will certainly be thirsting for it after getting embarrassed by Penn State a couple weeks ago.

#7 Purdue vs. #10 Nebraska - 6:30pm - ESPN2
Nebraska is no slouch, having a better season than I expected with recent wins against Minnesota and Iowa, but they can't win away from the soon-to-be-destroyed Devaney Center.  The way Purdue has been playing lately, this shouldn't be too close, but with the Boilers you never know!

#6 Iowa vs. #11 Northwestern - 9pm - ESPN2
The Hawkeyes draw the easiest first round game, since Northwestern is playing worse than anyone right now (eight straight losses).  With an NCAA bid potentially on the line, I don't see any way Iowa comes out flat.

It's time to show your teeth Boilers!

Friday games:

#1 Indiana vs. #8 Illinois - 12pm - ESPN
Talk about a great opportunity for revenge.  Tyler Griffey won't be getting an open layup to win this game, and the Hoosiers will easily handle the far inferior Illini.  I'd love to see the upset, but Indiana is too good to sleep on a team that already beat them (in horribly shameful fashion).

#4 Wisconsin vs. #5 Michigan - 2:30pm - ESPN
I simply can't pick Michigan to win this game despite all their talent because...
a) they aren't playing their best basketball right now
b) they may not even make it past Penn State on Thursday if they don't take the game seriously
c) I so badly want a Wisconsin/IU rematch (although I'll take an exciting Michigan/IU rematch if need be)

#2 Ohio State vs. #7 Purdue - 6:30pm - BTN
Do I pick the better team or am I a homer?  Sure, Purdue is playing some of its best basketball of the season right now, but is it enough to upset the Buckeyes?  Ohio State has won their last five games with victories against Minnesota, Michigan State, Indiana, and Illinois in that stretch.  That is very, very impressive and shows the Buckeyes are as good as their ranking.  They haven't lost a game to an unranked team all season, and despite the feelings in my heart, the head prevails, the bad guys win, and Purdue fails to qualify for the NIT.

#3 Michigan State vs. #6 Iowa - 9pm - BTN
This is a tough one.  Do I pick the highly talented Izzo-coached team or the young guys playing for their NCAA life?  While I think the Spartans are beatable, they'll win this one in a tight battle, but shockingly Iowa will make the NCAA tournament due to the Big Ten being valued by the selection committee.

Warning: Big Ten basketball may cause rifts in the space-time continuum
Saturday games:

#1 Indiana vs. #5 Wisconsin - 1:40pm - CBS
Another chance for IU to get revenge on a team that beat them this season.  Only this time, it won't happen.  Bo owns Crean, and he'll prove it again.  Which neighboring state will have more fans in the stands for this one? I predict the Badgers.

#2 Ohio State vs. #3 Michigan State - 4:15pm - CBS
Another great semifinal match-up, and this one pits two teams that split their regular season series, but both games were close.  I pick OSU, simply because they're a bit hotter right now. (Also, if Purdue is lucky enough to upset Ohio State, I still think they'll lose to MSU in this game.  They're green is Boilermaker kryptonite this season.)

Sunday championship:

#5 Wisconsin vs. #2 Ohio State - 3:30pm - CBS
Bo's Boys play admirably in making it this far, but their inconsistency shows and OSU wins by double digits. It's sad to pick the Buckeyes to win anything, since their school and fanbase are so deplorable, but at least that means IU didn't win.

Think you have a better prediction?  Let us know!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Basketball Recap: Purdue 89 - Minnesota 73

On Saturday, the Boilers sent two seniors out the right way.  Purdue absolutely destroyed Minnesota in the last regular game of the season, possibly marking DJ Byrd and Dru Anthrop's last game at Mackey Arena (depending on a post-season tournament invite).  But more about the seniors later.  Let's first look at what happened in the game.

DJ doing what seniors do

A beatdown, that's what happened.  Six minutes into the game, Minnesota had only made one field goal, Purdue was leading 20-5 and shooting 58%.  Purdue's lead would balloon to 21 and only return to single digits for less than 3 minutes of total game time.

Appropriately, Byrd led the way with 18 points (his highest total at Mackey this season), seven rebounds, five assists, and two steals.  Sandi Marcius (who I thought would be critical after getting hurt against Michigan, which likely cost the game) only played 12 minutes but was able to score two points, nab two rebounds, and get a steal.  He didn't have quite the same energy as his previous few stellar games, which may be due to the bum ankle.

So how did the Boilers handle the physical Gophers with Sandi not being much of a factor?  AJ Hammons turned his effort meter back up and was perfect from the field for 14 points, six rebounds, and three blocks (the rejections coming in a four-minute span in the first half).  It's exciting to see Hammons play even remotely close to his potential, and the sky is really the limit if he can stay hungry.

AJ pointing the way to Chicago

Along with Hammons, fellow freshman Ray Davis had a fantastic game.  Davis scored 18 points on only eight shots because he got the line a bunch by being physical and driving into contact.  He also had four assists (can you see a nice trend? Purdue had 20 on 32 buckets), a steal, and a block.  What Hammons sometimes lacks in energy, Davis certainly has in abundance, and he's learning how to use it very effectively.

Ray Day playing like a man

Terone and Ronnie Johnson didn't have a great day shooting, but they still scored 12 and 14 points respectively while playing tough defense and each dishing out five assists.  The other Johnson, who I've openly criticized and pined for less playing time, proved me wrong and scored 9 points in 19 mintues of action.  That doesn't sound that special in a blowout win, but little AJ was a huge reason the Boilers held the lead early in the second half.

Little AJ burning by the Gophers

Down 17 at half time, Minnesota came out and scored six unanswered points in the first 90 seconds. They followed that with three three-pointers over the subsequent two minutes and change.  Times we've seen the Boilers melt seem to start like that, but thanks in part to Anthony Johnson scoring five points by attacking the rim over a two-minute span, the cushion stayed big enough that Minnesota never seriously threatened again.

Say what you will about this year's basketball team (and I'm the first to be pretty critical when it's deserved), but they seem to be peaking at the right time, finally learning how to work together as a team, run their offense, and play with effort for a full 40 minutes.  They aren't near the top of the conference, but if they play like this, they have a shot against anyone.

Now that you've read about what happened on the court, allow me to rant about the travesty off the court.  First, the upper bowl at Mackey looked empty in the Paint Crew sections (from the TV angles).  This is pitiful, and it's been happening for a few weeks now.  I've never been more disappointed in the student section (those fans/ticket holders who don't show up don't deserve to be called the Paint Crew).

Second, I'm incredibly confused by the actual Paint Crew, specifically whoever was in charge of ordering the senior night t-shirts.  It's nice to have shirts honoring the seniors, but whey are they orange-gold instead of the actual Purdue colors?  When the Paint Crew did this two years ago, people thought it was strange, but since the game was against Illinois, it wasn't a big deal.

A travesty

Conversely, when playing Minnesota, I find it ridiculous that the student section would be clad in the opponent's color.  This was likely a case of poor planning by the Paint Crew leadership, and it looked horrible on TV when you saw the section sitting behind the Minnesota bench and it looked more like a road game.  Is it that hard to get shirts in Purdue's actual colors, and if so, why couldn't you choose another color knowing that the one specific game you were making the shirts for was against the GOLDEN Gophers? Really!  But again, at least those students showed up to cheer on the team.

Let me add one last quick note about the seniors.  I've mentioned earlier this season that I thought Byrd should be benched, to both provide a potential offensive threat off the bench (something the team was lacking), and as punishment for some poor play, games he simply didn't seem to show up for.  I don't take back those comments, but I'm thrilled to see how DJ is ending his college career.  I hope for it to only get better in the post-season and for DJ to make me look a fool.  Also, congratulations to Anthrop, the former walkon who had to battle back from a hand injury just to finish out his senior season.  The kid plays with huge effort and heart, and I wished he would have seen more action on Saturday to reward him for all he's done.

Thanks seniors!

While no one saw this huge victory coming, at least Erik and I both correctly predicted a Boiler triumph.  Of course, we thought it would be a relatively low scoring affair, with neither team surpassing 65 points.  Instead the guys go out and score the most points they have this season, and that's against some bad opponents, including two exhibition games! 

Because of that, I've regained a large amount of ground in our picks against the spread and won't get my kneecaps broken.  Of course, I have a long way to go to catch Erik, so the Big Ten Tournament better be very good to me.  Check out the current standings:

Erik +328 (23-10 Against The Spread)
Kirk +1 (14-19 Against The Spread)

With this win, Purdue earned the #7 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, which helps them have a slightly easier game against Nebraska on Thursday and a touch matchup against Ohio State on Friday (avoiding #1 seed IU).  We'll post more about the tournament soon, but do you think this team can make a miraculous run?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Another Big Ten Basketball Tournament Championship for Purdue

We're all pulling for the men's basketball team to make a miraculous run to win the Big Ten Tournament this weekend (their only chance to make it the Big Dance), but no one is holding their breath.

The Purdue women's team, on the other hand, seems to own the conference's annual tournament.  For the ninth time in 16 years (and the 19 years of the tournament's existence), the Boilers simply owned the Big Ten when it mattered most.


They always seem to be the regular season or tournament champs

As defending tournament champions, the road looked daunting when Purdue faltered down the stretch this season, losing five of their last eight.  That earned only the third seed in the tourney, but the team was able to win every game by double digits, taking down Wisconsin, #2-seed Nebraska, and #4-seed Michigan State in the finals.  Sure, the Boilers benefited from Michigan State upsetting #1-seed Penn State, but you win the games on the schedule.

Today's championship game was decided pretty early, when the Boilers nailed their first eight baskets and took a 33-14 lead into halftime. It was also some nice revenge after the Boilers lost to MSU at Mackey just ten days prior.  Beating a team that previousy upset you at home is important, but utterly destroying them is certainly nice.

The team's lone graduating senior put in a nearly perfect game.  Drey Mingo, who it's impossible not to root for, no matter where you went to school, tallied 24 points (only missing one shot, a three-point attempt), eight rebounds, and three blocks while being named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.  Congratulations to the entire team, and here's hoping this great momentum can lead them team deep into the NCAA Tournament.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Basketball Preview: Purdue vs. Minnesota - March 9th - Noon - BTN

It's Senior Night Morning for the Boilermakers as Purdue hopes to send DJ Byrd and Dru Anthrop out on a winning note in their last game in Mackey (barring a potentially likely CBI bid or at least two wins in the Big Ten Tourney for an NIT bid).  Can the Boilers shake off the tough loss on Wednesday night and play with the same passion as they showed for the last 30 minutes of the game against the Wolverines?  There's A LOT to play for on Saturday, and a win would greatly improve Purdue's (admittedly miniscule) chances at making a run for the BTT Championship. 

Isn't that a mouse?  If not, that's the ugliest Gopher I've ever seen.

Why Purdue Will Win
If Purdue plays the way they have over the last two games, the Boilers will win this one going away.  Purdue is playing at the same level as the conference leaders right now and home court advantage should be the difference maker even if the shots aren't falling.  The Gophers have lost seven straight road games and are coming off a miserable 53-51 loss at Nebraska.  Meanwhile, Minnesota's big wins this year have typically been against fast-paced teams.  Indiana, Michigan State, and Illinois all have a similar style in which Minnesota tends to excel against.  Other than an ugly 58-53 overtime home win against Wisconsin, the Gophers have lost low-scoring affairs against Northwestern, Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio State, and Nebraska.  This is a great matchup for the typically low-scoring Purdue squad and is a golden (excuse the pun) opportunity for the Boilers to pull out a win.

Why Minnesota Will Win
Just when you think you have this Purdue team figured out, they tend to completely switch gears.  Consistency has been pretty much nonexistent - I mean, this is the most consistent Purdue has been all year, and they've played two good games in which they didn't show up until 10 minutes into the game.  If Andre Hollins gets hot from behind the arc early, the Boilers cannot afford to have another one of their turnover-prone stretches that started the Michigan game.  Add the fact that Sandi Marcius is questionable, and this becomes Minnesota's game to dominate down low - they have 4 players 6' 7" or taller who played at least 18 minutes against Nebraska.  Trevor Mbakwe has a chance to have a huge game, giving the Gophers a huge victory and securing their spot in the NCAA Tourney (they probably need to win either this one or a game in the BTT to cement their bid).

One thing you absolutely need to know before the game
I mentioned Purdue has a lot to play for.  Assuming Iowa beats Nebraska and Ohio State beats Illinois (both at home), Purdue will need a win for the 7th seed.  A loss will put them in 9th no matter what happens.

A 9th seed gives Purdue a first round game against Illinois, and a second round game against Indiana.  Both will be extremely difficult and of all the teams in the Big Ten, Indiana is the only team that has dominated Purdue.  Even if they somehow get past both games, they'd still only be halfway to an NCAA Tourney Bid.

A 7th seed gives Purdue a first round game against Nebraska, and a second round game against either OSU, Michigan, or Michigan State.  Both games are SUBSTANTIALLY easier and this path would also avoid Indiana until the finals.

What does this all mean?  If you want to have a chance, you need to win this game. 

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.  We screwed up and counted one less game, so from here on out we will be betting any amount up to the amount that the other person has (The continuation into the postseason has not been confirmed with Kirk yet, so it could change).  The spread for this game is Minnesota by 2.

Erik's Bet: $64
Erik's Pick: Purdue 59 - Minnesota 54

Kirk's Bet: $139
Kirk's Pick: CONDITIONAL PICK!  If Marcius is active, Purdue 65 - Minnesota 62.  If inactive, Minnesota 68 - Purdue 62.

Erik +264 (22-10 Against The Spread)
Kirk -138 (13-19 Against The Spread)

Boiler Up!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Basketball Recap: Michigan 80 - Purdue 75

Wow - what a game!  Purdue may have lost, but the Boilers played one of their best and most entertaining games Wednesday night against the Wolverines.  It was awesome to have another game of pacing, jumping, and yelling in front of the tv, and despite the outcome, there's a lot of things to talk about in this one...

- If Wisconsin was "The Sandi Marcius Game", then this was "THE SANDI MARCIUS GAME!!!!"  Sandi has somehow figured it out and no longer looks like a bull in a china shop.  Sandi had a huge impact in just about every part of this game:
  • He had the first 9 points for Purdue and was the ONLY Boilermaker to score in the first 10:38 of the game.
  • His energy and scoring was vital in keeping the Boilers in the game early on.
  • He took a dump in the middle of the game.  This is a little bit of speculation, but 3 minutes into the second half, he ran over to Matt Painter trying to get taken out of the ballgame. Painter waited to take him out until Purdue got fouled later in that possession.  The first free throw was taken and Marcius BOLTED from the paint directly to the locker room.  5 (real-time) minutes later, Sandi came back to the bench.  BTN (who actually had pretty decent coverage last night) showed Marcius returning and I believe it was Stephen Toyra who asked him a question with a sly smirk on his face.  Sandi got a sheepish grin on his face and started laughing, but never denied whatever Toyra asked him.  He was back in the game within 2 minutes.  It clearly wasn't an injury, and he was gone too long to just have to take a piss.  Based on this, Sandi had to poop.  Badly.  I wish it had happened 5 minutes later, so that the next item wouldn't have happened.
  • Sandi's feeling a rumbling in his pants...
  • His injury was perhaps the biggest play of the game.  Michigan couldn't stop him and he was playing fantastic defense. Marcius went down - the Wolverines started their run a few minutes later.  The ankle roll looked gruesome and though he came back to play another minute or two, let's hope he's alright for Saturday - the Boilers need him!

- Can anybody tell me the last non-floater jump shot Anthony Johnson made? After doing some research, he did make a 3-pointer against Indiana on February 16th with nine seconds left in the game.  I'm pretty sure that prior to that, the most recent jump shot made was a 3-pointer against Illinois - the FIRST Big Ten game of the year.  So, if that's the case, WHY DOES ANTHONY JOHNSON HAVE THE BALL AT THE END OF THE SHOT CLOCK TRYING TO CREATE HIS OWN JUMP SHOT???  This seems to happen at least once a game.  Pass it to somebody else!  He's averaged 7 minutes in the last 3 games - think this has something to do with it?

- Rapheal Davis had a huge game (15 points, 9 rebounds) and played some outstanding defense.  That's why it was so frustrating to see him hack a guy from behind on a rebound only 4 minutes into the 2nd half.  This was his 3rd foul and I feel it really hurt his effectiveness in the 2nd half.  He couldn't afford to play as physical on defense - something Purdue really needed in the last 10 minutes.

- Has there always been a Bass Pro Shops "In The Net"?  What does that even mean?  It basically was just a way for BTN to show a replay of a made shot.  Ridiculous.

- Why was Purdue in position to win this game?  A great free throw percentage (86%!), great rebounding (outrebounded Michigan 38-25 even though both teams took nearly the same number of shots), and Ronnie Johnson never came down the court to take one of his stupid shots with 25 seconds left on the shot clock.  Ronnie played within himself and besides a potentially questionable decision to not give it up to Byrd at the end (Byrd was more open, although I understand his thinking since Terone had made about 40 shots in a row), he played excellent on the offensive end.

- Why did Purdue lose this game?  Bad defense and an unbelievable offensive stretch by Trey Burke and Nik Stauskas.  Statheads, pay attention - we may have seen some sort of record last night: 

In the last 9:44, Michigan had ONE possession in which they didn't score.  ONE!

That possession was a missed jumper by Trey Burke with 4:36 to go.  Amazingly, Purdue was only up 9 points at the 9:44 mark, and yet they still had a chance to tie it at the end of the game.  That's right, Michigan scored in 17 of their last 18 possessions, scoring 35 points in the process (a pace of over 140 points for the entire game!) and the Boilers still nearly pulled it off.  The scoring was so prolific that from the last tv timeout (at the 3:59 mark) to the turnover by the Johnson's with 3 seconds left, there was only one possession by EITHER team that didn't result in points (it was a Ronnie Johnson missed layup with 2:47 to go).  I really wish somebody with the resources would look up how unbelievable those last 10 minutes really were.  I honestly think it could have been some sort of Division I record.

How many times did you yell "NOW LET'S GET A [censored] STOP!!"  And how many times did you say "SOMEBODY GUARD BURKE AND STAUSKAS - THEY'RE THE ONLY TWO GUYS WHO ARE DOING ANYTHING!!@!@@!@!!!"?  I think I said them each about 18 times.  It worked once. Well, it actually worked twice, but Jim Burr made a horrible out of bounds call with 6:45 to go which gave Michigan a second chance at the possession.  Of course they scored.

- The first ten minutes of the game were a nightmare with horrible was getting to be embarrassing as the Boilers had 5 turnovers in the first 5 minutes.  The Boilers did come back and settle down to only commit 13 turnovers on the game, but man, there were three huge ones down the stretch:
  • 5:51 - Anthrop got a big offensive rebound, dribbled around for a couple seconds, and had the ball stolen for a fast break jumper by Burke.
  • 4:24 - Terone Johnson got the ball poked out from behind 30 feet from the basket, leading to a fast break layup.
  • 0:03 - Ronnie Johnson passed it to Terone who took his eye off the ball, meaning the guy who was 12-17 from the field would not get the opportunity to take a game-tying shot.
After the last turnover - check out all the reactions
- Terone may have had 5 turnovers, but he was nothing short of magical on the offensive end.  Floater after floater after floater - it was one of the most impressive offensive performances I've seen from a Boilermaker in a long time.  Every shot seemed to be double covered, yet somehow they kept going in.  It had to have been brutal to be a Michigan fan last night..."WHY CAN'T YOU GUARD HIM????"  It was fun to watch - keep up the great play, Terone!

- And finally, Tom Campbell had an amazing game.  Who?  He's the Gold and Black Illustrated photographer and he took some awesome shots.  Check out his pictures that we've featured on this post - great work Tom!  (Little known fact: Tom Campbell has actually taken a picture of Kirk and I that has been featured in Gold and Black Illustrated.  Maybe one day we'll post it here.)

Big Dog, Cardinal, and Keady laughing about Gene's new look - awesome!

Despite the loss, Purdue all the sudden has a lot to play for on Saturday and appears to be playing it's best ball heading into the Big Ten Tourney.  And on a personal level, I'd like to thank the Boilers for giving me the opportunity to write at least one more passionate post this year.

Boiler Up!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Basketball Preview: Purdue vs. Michigan - March 6th - 7:00 pm - BTN

After shocking Wisconsin this weekend, can the Boilers upset another ranked opponent when they face Michigan on Wednesday night?  I just hope the Wolverines aren't wearing those horrible highlighter uniforms.

You coach, alright!  I learned it by watching you!

Why Purdue Will Win
You could say that now may be the best time to be facing Michigan.  In the last 31 days, the Wolverines have gone 4-4.  The four wins have been by an average of six points, and all were at home.  All four losses were on the road, and while it's not unexpected to lose at IU, Wisconsin, and Michigan State, they lost most recently to Penn "we're horrible at basketball" State.  If those guys can beat Michigan, certainly the Boilers have a shot.

Also, look for Purdue to work hard on the glass again, like they did against Wisconsin.  I was surprised to see that the Boilers lead the league in rebounds per game, and Michigan is only eighth.  They aren't as physical a team as you may expect, so its possible the Boilers could simply outwork them (as long as at least some of their shots are falling).

Why Michigan Will Win
With all the talent on this Wolverine team, they are sure ending the season poorly.  However, they still have plenty of offense to outscore the Boilers.  Michigan ranks second in the conference in just about every offensive category, but they also rank the same in giving up the fewest turnovers.  The actually have the best steal to turnover ratio in the conference while Purdue has the worst.  The Purdue defense will be hard pressed to stop Michigan piling on the points, and it's unlikely the Boilers are capable of keeping pace in a track meet.

One thing you absolutely need to know before the game
A lot was made about Michigan's victory over MSU despite the Wolverines shooting 0 for 12 from three point land after being the second best team in the conference from deep.  However, don't expect that to be the case on Wednesday night, as the teams (by far) best shooter, Nik Stauskas, will return from an eye injury (he was elbowed in the eye by our least favorite thug).  It will be critical to not let him get open looks, since the rest of the Wolverines can die by the three.

Also, if Purdue can pull the upset, it will be Painter's 200th career victory, a nice milestone, but not likely any extra motivation.  Playing spoiler and trying to get to .500 is motivation enough.

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 by 6.

Erik's Bet: $19
Erik's Pick: Michigan 68 - Purdue 58

Kirk's Bet: $1
Kirk's Pick: Michigan 72 - Purdue 60

Erik +283 (22-9 Against The Spread)
Kirk -137 (13-18 Against The Spread)

Values already bet
We've bet all the values 1-32, so we'll have a special value bet for the final regular season game against Minnesota this weekend.

Boiler Up!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Basketball Recap: Purdue 69 - Wisconsin 56 (yes, you read that right!)

Where do I begin? It seems that up is down and black is white.  In a game that I basically gave the Boilers 0% chance to win, they not only win but win by double digits?  The final score listed above looks like what you'd expect if the names of the teams were switched.  Heck, I predicted a 68-53 final score, I just had the order wrong.

Seriously, Purdue won?  Let me watch the game again (thanks!).  Yep, that happened.  The last two games I've had the pleasure of recapping just don't make much sense.  Despite it being Senior Day for five Wisconsin players (three of which are major contributors), a Bo Ryan Badger team lost for the first time on such an occasion. Purdue is now 10-8 against Bo, the only Big Ten team with a winning record.  This was also Painter's third win at the Kohl (not that one) Center.

More on this beast later - Chooch!

To pull this shocking win off, everything seemed to click for the Boilers.  DJ Byrd shot lights out (6 for 9) from three for 22 points, led the team with 8 rebounds, and plain out-hustled a lot of people.  Fellow veteran Terone Johnson also had a great game with 16 points, seven rebounds, and four assists.  The floater seemed to be falling on every shot, and the same could be said for little brother Ronnie.  They each shot about 50%, and Ronnie dished out eight assists and had five rebounds.  His free throw shooting was wretched, but the rest of the team was great.

Three-Byrd made the trip up north

As a whole, the Boilers rebounded well, winning the battle 36-26, and their ten offensive boards were a big reason they fought back from a twelve point deficit with a few minutes left in the first half.  A 21-3 run created a lead that the Badgers couldn't overcome.  A big reason for the rebounding discrepancy though was Wisconsin going ice cold from long range.  The Badgers only shot 6 for 28 (21%), and missed their final 18 attempts. That's quite uncharacteristic for Wisconsin to shoot so poorly, especially since many of those shots weren't terribly contested, but at least Purdue took advantage.

I knew this game would be strange, but I feared painfully dreadful, when I saw Bo Boroski was leading the officiating crew.  Purdue has trouble handling one Bo, but two?  I felt doomed.  Add to that the ear-bleeding that would result from listening to Dan Dakich as the color commentator, and two hours could seen like an eternity.  I especially liked how he made a sexist comment and called someone a gimp in the first thirty seconds of the game, which made it kind of hilarious to see how many stupid things he could say.  Would he make more dumb statements than Wisconsin could make three-pointers?  Today, definitely.

Bo seems to be in a great mood!

Other Dakich favorites included his "all that kinda cr... [crap, don't say "crap!"] - nonsense" save and saying how shocked he would be if Ronnie Johnson missed a third consecutive free throw late in the game.  Of course Ronnie missed it, and then a fourth in a row, so fortunately it shut Dakich up for a split second.  As much as I appreciate what Ronnie brings to the table, I think Dakich is president of his fan club, which is kind of creepy.

Other strange things from the game:
  1. Matt Painter actually smiled, and ESPN was fortunate enough to catch it on camera.  Maybe Erik can grab a screen shot to prove it happened.
  2. This was a game where IU was actually rooting for Purdue, since as I shared in my weekly power rankings, Wisconsin had the best chance of beating the Hoosiers for the conference title.  Since Michigan State also lost today, Indiana will at least share the regular season championship.  That sucks, but it's not a surprise.
  3. Sandi Marcius outplayed AJ Hammons, and it wasn't even close.  Chooch continues his unexpected and enthusiastic run, as he made all his shots to tally ten points, grabbed three offensive rebounds, nab three steals, and score 1,000 hustle points.  There were no silly mistakes, and conversely Hammons looked disinterested and unmotivated, and Painter kept him on the bench for the critical run.  Hammons was a black hole, shooting whenever he had the opportunity but only going 3 for 11, he didn't get a single rebounds, and twice had one stolen away from a weaker players who wanted it more.  He set lazy screens and even got his shot blocked twice on the same series. Chooch should start the remainder of the season, and I sure hope he's back for his fifth year they way he's playing now.  Maybe that will help motivate Hammons (who I'll give "team player" credit for very happily congratulating Sandi after the game).
  4. Painter virtually benched Anthony Johnson, giving him only four minutes.  He'd been averaging about 19 minutes per game the last four games.  I'm happy with that decision and hope it continues.
  5. The team played inspired basketball, but it's so maddening that they can't do so consistently. When down 12 points late in the first half, this team has given up in previous games, but for some reason they didn't quit today. Maybe it was a fluke, but it makes me excited for the future.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Basketball Preview: Purdue at Wisconsin - March 3rd - 1:00 pm - ESPN

The Boilers get their last chance to show the nation what they've got on Sunday in the last nationally televised game of the regular season for Purdue.  I think if they win by 150, they might be able to sway the committee...
Not if Bo has anything to say about it...

Why Purdue Will Win
Much like the Iowa and Northwestern games, Purdue has a chance in this one because their opponent doesn't often score in the 70's.  Wisconsin may be 11-4 in the Big Ten, yet they've played 5 games in which they've scored less than 50 points in regulation (they actually won 2 of them!).  If Wisconsin has another one of those games where their shots aren't falling (one of them even came against Nebraska), the Boilers can definitely hang with them.  I'm not sure Purdue can score 50 on the Badgers, but that still doesn't mean they can't win.

Why Wisconsin Will Win
Wisconsin is a typical Badger team in that their defense is where everything starts.  They've held their last 4 opponents to under 50 points in regulation and Purdue's shown nothing to expect them to change that trend on Sunday.  Meanwhile, the offense seems to be finally clicking and it's not just the starters pulling it off.  Freshman Sam Dekker has come off the bench and scored double digits in each of his last 5 games. If Purdue needs to keep this game under 50, they can't afford to give up double digits to anybody, let alone a guy off the bench.   

One thing you absolutely need to know before the game
Kirk mentioned it in his Power Rankings, but one of the things I'm most looking forward to about watching Sunday's game is watching Ryan Evans take jump shot free throws.  Unfortunately, he's listed as questionable with a knee injury suffered in practice.  It doesn't say how he hurt it, but there's a legitimate chance he's the first person in basketball history to injure his leg while shooting free throws.

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 Wisconsin by 14.5.

Erik's Bet: $20
Erik's Pick: Wisconsin 52 - Purdue 39

Kirk's Bet: $2
Kirk's Pick: Wisconsin 68 - Purdue 53

Erik +263 (21-9 Against The Spread)
Kirk -135 (13-17 Against The Spread)

Values already bet
Erik 1-18, 20-32
Kirk 2-32

Boiler Up!

Basketball Recap: Iowa 58 - Purdue 48

After the Northwestern game last week, I wasn't alone in looking forward to Wednesday night.  Purdue was playing a winnable road game and had just played one of their best games of the season.  Maybe the bye week fixed all their problems!  Or maybe not...

1) This game was gift-wrapped for the Boilers.  The Hawkeyes scored their last basket of the first half with 12:42 left, and were leading 15-8 at the time. The halftime score was 23-16, meaning Iowa went nearly 13 minutes without making a basket, and Purdue didn't make up ONE SINGLE POINT on them!  It was a miracle this wasn't a blowout.

2) Terone Johnson's ankle injury really hurt the Boilers.  The team's leading scorer looked all out of sorts when he came back in.  Terone took all 6 of his shots after the injury and every one ended up short (including an airball).  He was clearly having trouble getting any sort of lift on his shot and you could definitely tell he was getting killed on the boards.  Hopefully he's feeling better on Sunday because he definitely wasn't the same player after his injury on Wednesday.

3) Amazingly Purdue fought back into the game and the Boilers were only down 6 with 2 minutes to go. However, Josh Oglesby (0 for 4 prior to the possession) hit an absolute dagger of a three deep into the shot clock to seal the game.  A stop there and those last two minutes could have been pretty exciting...

A disappointing loss in what was most likely Purdue's last chance for a regular season win.  Now it's time to play spoiler!