Saturday’s Purdue/IU matchup is going to be a blowout.
The scene in Bloomington is going to be crazy. The late tip (8:30 p.m.) means a more enthusiastic (drunk) crowd. The five banners, in which so many Hoosier fans take solace, hanging high above the Hallowed Court that scorned Coach Bob Knight built, will be flapping like plastic sacks caught on barbed wire from the sound vibrations emanating from the faithful.
IU’s senior leader and Mr. Everything (according to radio talk-show personality Dan Dakich) Yogi Ferrell regains his shooting touch and lights up the scoreboard from long range. Thomas Bryant will play his way one step closer to the pros, embarrassing Purdue big men A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas with a versatile inside-out game that has the Boilers defense not only spread, but confused the whole game.
Ahead at the first media timeout, the band is in a fervor as “Indiana, Our Indiana” blares from the trombone section as students and fans alike sway back and forth like it’s pitcher night.
Out of the timeout, BAM! IU hits another three. The Hoosiers’ backcourt pressure forces Purdue’s hapless guard tandem of P.J. Thompson and Johnny Hill to turn the ball over—again—and Collin Hartman drives strong to the rim, scores, and is fouled. A.J. Hammons is slapped with his second foul early in the game and is forced to take a seat.
At this point, everyone in the arena implodes. The excitement is intense. Johnny Cougar waves his hands in the air like he don’t care, singing “Jack and Diane,” while Tom Crean looks at the scoreboard thinking, “Hmmm, maybe I can coach.”
Television commentators Dakich and, in a trade with the NBA, Quinn Buckner are barely audible, but are caught hugging on camera. The polar ice cap refreezes. Troy Williams is actually engaged in the game.
Time to wake up, Mr. Man!
Simply put, Purdue is going to win this game. Purdue will win because the Boilers will outplay the Hoosiers in every facet of the game—except for stupid coaching decisions. I mean, let’s be real. Tom Crean can’t coach.
Here’s exactly how it will go down. The Boilers will feed the ball inside on every offensive possession. Once down low, Hammons and Haas will force IU’s only semi–big man Bryant into immediate foul trouble. With him out, there is really nothing to stop Purdue from scoring at will in the paint. And on defense, with IU struggling from three, there is nothing that can be done in the key, which Purdue repaints black and gold at the half.
Ferrell, who before this recent shooting slump was getting a little NBA chatter, fails, and his stock drops further. If he can only muster 11 points against Nebraska, then he is pretty much a non-factor. This forces IU Nation to reconsider wanting James Blackmon back. Who? By game’s end, cult-like fan favorite Tim Priller and former manager-turned-player Jackson Tharp are the leading scorers for the Hoosiers.
While it is nice for IU fans to think about winning Saturday, I’m afraid that’s not going to happen.
Sure, Purdue can’t close games, you may say. In this one, it won’t matter. Talent, defensive prowess, and size will prove too tall an order for the Hoosiers to overcome.
In reality, Boilers win. Big.