Listen up, Purdue basketball.
I’ve been hearing lot of talk about IU and the NCAA tournament lately. Last week’s big home win over Maryland pretty much set the blender on whip for expectations. And even the No. 21 Hoosiers’ loss at Ohio State on Sunday wasn’t the wet blanket it should’ve been. Enough!
Tonight (9 p.m., BTN) is the perfect time for the upstart Boilers to come together and put a dagger to all that IU swagger, giving the Hoosier Nation a wake-up call it desperately needs. Here’s how it can happen:
Inside, Purdue (12-8, 4-3 Big Ten) should dominate Indiana (15-5, 5-2) in the paint with 7-foot junior A.J. Hammons and 7-foot-2 freshman Isaac Haas, at least until they both get into foul trouble within the game’s first five minutes. The reason IU’s Collin Hartman had such a good game against the Terrapins was he came in undetected. The Terps just weren’t ready for his outside presence, and it threw off Maryland’s whole defensive concept the entire game. His outside success spread Maryland out and allowed the faster Hoosiers to get up and down the court, where they scored at will.
Also, if I were Purdue coach Matt Painter, I would have the Boilers’ Raphael Davis guarding Yogi Ferrell. He’s the best defensive player at Purdue since Chris Kramer, who brought home Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2008 and 2010. It will take a great effort to stop Ferrell, who has been living up to the promise of the 5-year-old phenom he was built up to be—finally.
The sold-out Mackey Arena will be rockin’, and the Paint Crew will have their signs, but in the end, the result will depend on how well the young Boilers can keep their heads clear and rise to meet this challenge head-on. Finally, fans of both schools have a program to root for. Finally, at least for now, this game has Big Ten and NCAA implications.
The time is now for the Boilers to defend home court and win for the second game in a row against a ranked opponent (they beat then-25th-ranked Iowa on Saturday). If it’s close, Purdue will take this one—although I much prefer blowouts over IU.
Mike Botkin is a lifelong Purdue Boilermakers fan and occasionally offers a dissenting opinion on IU hoopla.