So, How We Doin'? At Purdue

Feb 8, 2022

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Here's what I think happens.

First, I think Michigan State beats Wisconsin in East Lansing tomorrow night at 6:00. That moves Wisconsin to 9-4 and Michigan State to 9-3 in the conference. This means that if Illinois wins, Illinois will be in sole possession of first place. And if Illinois loses, Purdue and Illinois will be tied for first with Michigan State a half game back.

Then I think Illinois loses. Sorry, but I do.

However, I think Purdue, gloating over their sweep of Illinois and sizing themselves for rings, loses at Michigan Thursday night. Quick turnaround, Purdue wins an emotional game on Tuesday, Michigan is 11-9 so Purdue expects to coast, and 48 hours after gaining a share of the Big Ten lead they lose it by losing at Michigan. We then beat Northwestern on Sunday and next week at this time we're still in first place in the Big Ten all by ourselves. Michigan State isn't even a half game back anymore because they get overconfident after beating Purdue and lose at home to Indiana on Saturday.

So yes, if you scroll down to the bottom here, you'll see me predicting a loss. But then we immediately regain solo first and roll into the road trip next week (at Rutgers, at MSU) still in first place all by ourselves. Maybe I'm trying to bad news/good news, but that's how I see it.

To me this is kind of simple. We're not going to go 18-2 in the Big Ten. Nobody is. Losses are coming. And this is by far the most likely loss. On the road at #3 playing a team which already beat us in Champaign.

In fact, KenPom has that "percentage chance of winning" column, so I'll just go pull that and list our last eight games in order of most likely win/least likely win:

Penn State - 85% chance of a win
Northwestern - 82%
Iowa - 71%
at Rutgers - 70%
Ohio State - 70%
at Michigan - 57%
at Michigan St. - 51%
at Purdue - 29%

So yeah, this seems pretty simple. We're not gonna go 18-2. We're going to lose at least one if not two or three. And by far the most likely loss is at #3 Purdue.

I mean, I can see how we might win. As John Gasaway noted on the podcast episode I uploaded about 10 days ago, Purdue is basically 2021 Iowa at this point. Amazing offense, incredibly suspect defense. In fact, Iowa's 2021 defense was better than this Purdue defense. In Purdue's last two home games they beat Ohio State by three (on a three at the buzzer) and they beat Michigan by six, giving up 78 to the Buckeyes and 76 to the Wolverines. So I could see an offensive surge - we're due for a Curbelo explosion or a Plummer "7-10 from three" game soon.

Since I still have KenPom open, let me check the conference ranks for Illinois and Purdue. Here's the numbers:

Purdue offense - 1st in the Big Ten (1st in the nation)
Purdue defense - 9th in the Big Ten

Illinois offense - 4th in the Big Ten
Illinois defense - 1st in the Big Ten

Wow, 1st in the Big Ten? That's interesting. I knew that KenPom had our defense somewhere between 20th and 25th nationally. I didn't know that when you limit the numbers to conference games only, we're tops in the Big Ten. I figured Indiana was still ahead (when you factor in all games, Indiana is 19th nationally in defense and Illinois is 21st). So if we just put up 74 points on the 19th-best defense in the country, how many will we score on Purdue's 107th-ranked defense? NINETY SEVEN?

OK I'm doing it again. I know what I'm going to predict and I don't want to predict it so I try to talk myself out of it. I'm not falling for that trick again, me. Back on track.

Purdue has a really good offense. Best in the country. They're ranked #3 in the AP Poll and this game is on ESPN. At their place. They're been the favorites to win the Big Ten all season and now they have a chance, for the first time this season, to beat the team in front of them and grab a share of first.

Like, will it even be four seconds after you see that Larry Scirotto is one of the refs (I have no idea who is working this game, but I can feel in my soul that Larry will be one of the three) when you realize that Purdue is winning this game? Kofi fouled out with 10 points and 5 rebounds when we played Purdue in Champaign. With their two big men going after Kofi time and time and time again, what are the chances he stays out of foul trouble this game?

Here's how I see it. The home team usually gets the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the refs. We'll have a foul shot advantage when Northwestern comes to town on Sunday. If it's a 50/50 call, it generally goes to the home team.

Kofi is going to have to foul Edey and Williams at least 15 times to keep this close. If he plays the "keep him from backing me down and then arms straight up" defense he played on TJD on Saturday, Edey and Williams will combine for 40+. He's going to have to engage.

So then it will be up to the officials to not whistle five of those 15 fouls. It's a national TV matchup between #3 and #13, so they'll likely go out of their way to prevent any of the stars from fouling out, but again, Kofi is going to have to be very physical in defending these two bigs and will be doing something that could draw a whistle every other possession. If it's Larry on the whistle, do you think he'll be able to resist? Me neither.

(It's totally going to be Larry. Why wouldn't it be Larry? My guess: Scirotto, DJ Carstensen, and Paul Szelc.)

So I think this one will be a high scoring affair, I think it will be fun, I think we hit a lot of threes, but I think Purdue will win. I don't want that to be the case - I want to walk out of there with the "we are freaking WINNING the Big Ten" feeling - but I just don't think it will happen.

Purdue 87, Illinois 82


Bear8287 on February 8, 2022 @ 02:19 AM

How many minutes does Curbelo play and does he play like he did in Champaign?

GalesburgIllini on February 8, 2022 @ 09:00 AM

BBV was outstanding in post defense in the last game vs. Purdue. Could we see a set with BBV and Kofi on the floor at the same time? The trade-off is you're not going to get a ton out of him offensively.

Or - Kofi vs. Williams and BBV vs. Edey?

Edey averages 18 mins a game.

Williams averages 20 mins a game.

IlliNYC on February 8, 2022 @ 02:45 PM

BBV is a very good post entry passer.

The Olaf Rules on February 8, 2022 @ 09:14 AM

I don’t care if their bigs score 40 as long as we limit their three point shooting. 2 < 3.

IlliniJoe81 on February 8, 2022 @ 10:36 AM

I think Underwood has the right game plan but I think we're just going to get beat. Here are my questions tonight:

  1. Can Kofi do better against Edey this time? Edey had the emotional edge last time and I want to see Kofi get some revenge, especially after the elbow concussion.
  2. What happens when Painter dorks Curbelo (and you know he will)? Does Curbelo make a 3-pointer? Does he shoot us out of the game? Does he make plays despite being dorked? They are going to game plan for Curbelo this time.
  3. Do we guard Sasha this time? Can Plummer do better on defense?
  4. Was the BBV thing a fluke or can he really guard these guys?
  5. Can we generate offense out of the Kofi/Curbelo pick and roll?

Some 6th or 7th man on Purdue is going to hit 4 3-pointers while Plummer is guarding him and Trevion Williams is going to have a better game this time. Their bigs can neutralize Kofi and the "pick your poison" thing doesn't happen, especially when Painter doesn't guard Curbelo at the 3-point line.

This is just a terrible matchup for us. When you add their offense to what will be a bonkers crowd, you're just going to get a couple 10-0 runs and it will be too much to overcome.

This is a "house money" game but I think we're feeling a little too good about ourselves and are about to get smacked down. Then we go on another winning streak.

rml on February 8, 2022 @ 11:04 AM

Sadly, this rings true to me. But that would be OK by me, especially if we win our next two against them, in the tournaments.

phytynlini on February 8, 2022 @ 11:51 AM

Except in the first installment, the refs did not favor the home team. Biggest make up call ever tonight?!!?

Illini by double digits.

firet92 on February 8, 2022 @ 12:25 PM

So true. They treated Purdue as the home team.

jdl on February 8, 2022 @ 04:16 PM

Indiana was probably still first in defense at halftime Saturday.

IlliniJoe81 on February 8, 2022 @ 04:27 PM

Paul Szelc, D.J. Carstensen and Bill Ek. 2 out of 3 predicted correctly, but perhaps dodged the biggest bullet. D.J. Carstensen does not give me a good feeling.

Giovantischixstripz on February 8, 2022 @ 04:43 PM

I think we are on the 3 line right now. I think there are 7 teams that are clearly above us (Auburn, Gonzaga, Purdue, Arizona, Kentucky, Kansas, and Baylor) and then the next group includes Houston, Duke, Texas Tech, Villanova, Providence, us and Wisconsin. All those teams have different strong spots you can point to that says they should be over someone else, as well as weaknesses. So could be as high as last 2 or as low as 2nd 4, but likely a 3. Get this win tonight, and we probably leap ahead of this group and on to the bottom of the 2 line.

Giovantischixstripz on February 8, 2022 @ 06:06 PM

This is odd. I swear I posted this in the other article where Robert was talking about NET rankings.

phytynlini on February 11, 2022 @ 08:54 AM

Win Sunday and your parlay hits.

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