Purdue (22-8 Overall, 11-6 in the Big Ten)
Why Purdue Could Win
1) Pressure Defense - Purdue's in-your-face, high pressure defense tore us up in the last contest. It obviously frustrated our players as it forced a season high 22 turnovers. Michigan State will have to play with better focus this time around.
2) Three Point Shooting - Although the Boilermakers finished only 6-22 from behind the line, the majority of those three balls came in the first half off of open looks. The Spartans will have to tighten up their perimeter defense and not let Robbie Hummel get hot again.
3) JuJuan Johnson - Robbie Hummel's early outside shooting opened things up on the inside for JuJuan Johnson in the first game. He finished 5-7 from the field with 17 points. This can't happen again.
4) Efficient Offense Purdue still ranks second in the Big Ten in FG%. They are converting on over 46% of their shots from the field.
5) Defensive Rebounding - The Boilermakers are excellent defensive rebounders, despite their team's +0.6 rebounding margin. Earlier in the year, they even had more defensive rebounds that Michigan State. If they can limit Michigan State's second chance points, the Spartans will be in a world of hurt.
Spartan Keys to Victory
1) Let 'Em Play - With the conference championship wrapped up, I think it is time to let the horses run. Even with regards to seeding, this game is much more important for Purdue than it is for us. Let's counteract their pressure with an all out Y-ball attack. If they are going to be in Lucas's face the entire length of the court, then let him go all out. Don't make him run a robotic, structured offense that they have been preparing for all week. Maybe even throw some high pressure defense back at Purdue and see how they respond.
2) Limit Turnovers - As always, we have to take care of the ball.
3) Convert Offensive Rebounds - In the last game, we dominated the offensive glass with 15 boards, but we convert on less than a handful of them. Not converting on an offensive board might as well be categorized as a turnover. And, as you know, we already have too many of those.
4) X-Factors - Step up Allen and Summers. We need you.
5) Seniors - If it's me, I'm starting all of them. Izzo is worried that our lineup would be too big. Hey Coach, you started Herzog against Wisconsin because he didn't get into garbage time in the previous game. You can squeeze four seniors into the starting lineup to play the first two minutes. If you don't think they can match-up with Purdue, run some zone. Go with a 1-3-1 with Ibok out on top. That would be great.
Before the first game, I said that both teams had great defenses and that the game would be won by the team with the best offense. Unfortunately, on that night, it was Purdue. For this matchup, I'm going with the same philosophy.
In the last two games, I have been pleased with our offense. We countered Illinois high pressure defense well last weekend and executed to perfection. We also shot over 50% from the field against Indiana despite almost losing down in Bloomington. Our defense, on the other hand, has not been as stellar as it had been earlier in the year.
To beat Purdue, we will need to find ways to score consistently. I think dribble penetration is going to be key in this game as it will either lead to lay-ups or free up our big men for points in the paint. If nothing else, it will open up what should be the third option (an outside shot).
In the end, I think Michigan State rides their recent offensive success and finds a way to beat Purdue's pressure defense.
Michigan State over Purdue 68-58
1) Calipari Takes Shot at Michigan State, Others - The Memphis coach was defending Conference USA in this ESPN Article. Here is a quote from him:
"Ask UCLA and Michigan State if this league hurt us when we played them last year. We were up 50-20 on Michigan State. We beat Texas by 18 [85-67] in Houston. Teams in our league played us tougher than that."
Oh yeah....."You're a lousy f'ing softball player, Cal".
DVD Giveaway - Please Send Me Your Scores
I don't have many entries, so your chances of winning are really high. If you haven't seen it, it is a really nice DVD. It retails for $24.95 on Amazon.com.
Tomorrow - Purdue Post Game