Game: Purdue (10-8, 3-2) at #2 Michigan (17-1, 4-1) Thursday 1/24, ESPN,
7:00 PM ET
Vegas: Michigan (-15)
Opponent Analysis: Purdue is a team that somehow didn’t have room to offer a legacy scholarship to Glenn Robinson III, son of arguably their greatest player in program history. Purdue looks like they could really use GRIII, as they have suffered some uncharacteristically ugly losses (Bucknell at home, EMU (yes, that EMU), Oregon State at home). Senior tweener DJ Byrd is a player to watch. He is currently averaging 10.4, and he has never met a shot he doesn’t like. Junior guard Terone Johnson went off on Michigan last year, scoring 22 in Michigan’s infinite home loss to Purdue, Michigan’s only home loss of the season. Johnson leads the team with 13.3 points per game. The loss to Purdue last year is a definite concern for Michigan tonight, as coach Andy Painter employed an aggressive defense on Trey Burke, and his stat line (12 points on 4-12, 4 assists/4 turnovers) showed he was not ready to handle what Purdue did to him, often a double team as soon as he was 25 feet or so from the hoop.
1) Burke must play much better than he did in this matchup last year – As I mentioned above, Burke did not handle the double team pressure that Purdue employed well at all. Burke needs to limit the turnovers if he is hit with the same defense. The old adage goes if somebody is double teamed, someone else is wide open. Michigan must move the ball well when facing this pressure and find the open shooter. One thing that will help Burke is that there are plenty of guys on the court with him that can not only create their own shot, but win their matchup as well.
2) Limit Terone Johnson – When Purdue upset Illinois on January 2, Terone Johnson scored 25 points. Last year, Johnson got the best of Michigan and scored 22 when Purdue recorded the upset. Michigan must make Terone uncomfortable and get an early lead, to rush him into bad decisions. Johnson is capable of those bad decisions, as he has an assist/turnover ratio of 1.8 (compared to 3.8 for Burke), and he is only shooting .394 from the floor (.508 for Burke).
3) Continue to play Michigan basketball – Michigan is a very efficient team on both ends of the court. Michigan is leading the entire country with an incredible 1.23 points per possession, and is the least fouling team of any team. Michigan got more fouls than normal last week against Minnesota, but with the home court advantage tonight, Michigan has a great chance to go back to playing tough defense without fouling.
Prediction: Michigan will get the Purdue monkey off their back and get the win. They have great talent, a tremendous refocus after losing to OSU, and they are in a tight conference race. I expect a big game from Glenn Robinson III, as he gets the chance to show Andy Painter what he missed out on. Plus Purdue doesn’t have anybody athletic enough to match up with the terrific GRIII. Michigan will kinda let Purdue hang around, but win this game by double digits.
Michigan 75 Purdue 63