My Two Cents: This Purdue group really needs to win on Sunday

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – If Purdue doesn’t beat Iowa on Sunday in the Big Ten tournament final, the sun will still rise Monday morning. The Boilermakers will still secure their bid for the NCAA Tournament on Sunday night and there will still be plenty of madness to do in March.

But for these guys at Purdue – and this interpretation of Purdue’s basketball program – this championship game is hugely important because, quite frankly, this group needs to win. Must win something.

They have to win a title.

They have to hoist a trophy.

They have to accomplish something.

They have won 44 regular season games over the past two years. They have won 27 Big Ten regular season games, more than everyone but Illinois (31). They were the Big Ten’s pre-season favorites this year and did not win the league title.

They were also Big Ten tournament favorites after the season, so they need them. They only won this tournament once, so it’s true.

Why? Because this team sets goals. And that team, ranked no worse than the nation’s No. 9 all year and as high as No. 1 for a brief time, has failed to achieve many of its goals so far.

Beat Indiana twice? Nope.

Winning the Big Ten regular season title? Nope

And now, the title of the tournament? You know what I mean. This team is so good, so loaded, so deep in all five positions.

And they haven’t ticked any of the biggest boxes yet.

So, yes, Sunday counts. And I understand that the NCAA tournament is more important, but that matters too. You know it, I know it, Matt Painter knows it, and more importantly, these players know it.

“(Sunday) is a great game for us,” Purdue star Jaden Ivey said after Saturday’s 75-70 win over Michigan State in the semifinals. short.

“So now on (Sunday) we have another opportunity to win a championship and bring one back to our fans. We just have to lock ourselves in (Sunday) and read the scout and get Iowa out of what they like to do We just need to play a great team ball.

Purdue didn’t have an easy road to the final. Penn State, the 11th seed, gave them all they could handle in the quarterfinals on Friday night and Michigan State wouldn’t leave on Saturday either.

Ivey had 22 points, many of them in spectacular fashion, and Eric Hunter Jr., who has played at a high level for the past month or more, scored two late goals to help the Boilers pull away.

It’s a very good team. And they have to prove it one more day against an Iowa team that’s been on a hot streak for a month, winning 11 of 13 games.

“Matt has a hell of a team,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “They can beat you in so many different ways. They’re loaded inside (with twin towers Zach Edey and Trevion Williams) that we were okay with (slowing down). We kind of changed that. Sometimes we doubled, sometimes not.

“And right now the best team has won, (Williams) is maybe the best passer in the state and I know Indiana has pro players here, but this kid is from our hometown. I love Trevion , he’s a really good He’s a really good passer Matt did a hell of a job with him, with the body and the post moves, but the passing is something else I’m not sure, it’s “It’s like Magic (Johnson’s) passing. We made a highlight of his passing. And that’s pretty awesome, I might send it to him when I’m done.”

Iowa poses a different threat. They are the only team that can match Purdue on the offensive side. Among the Power 6 schools – we add the Big East for basketball – Iowa is No. 2 in the nation in points (84.0 points per game) and Purdue is No. 3 at 80.4 . (Arizona is first at 84.6.)

What Iowa doesn’t have is a way to stop the Purdue bigs. Edey and Williams could have a field day, as they did in both regular season wins, first at Mackey in December and again at Iowa City in January. In both games, they had 37 points and 39 rebounds.

Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis scored 31 points against Iowa in Saturday’s semifinal, which Iowa won 80-77. He was 15 of 21 from the field and, as always, every basket came all around the rim.

Purdue, a 2-point favorite, can exploit that. But they also have to be worried – very worried – for Iowa forward Keegan Murray, who is currently playing at the National Player of the Year level. The 6-foot-8 Cedar Rapids sophomore has already scored 84 points this week, averaging 28.0 points per game. He made three three-pointers in a two-plus-minute streak TWICE against Indiana, while going 8-for-10 deep.

Purdue can’t let that happen on Sunday. The Boilers, a team that is hurt by lulls from time to time, can’t have long gaps against Iowa. Purdue needs to avoid periods of turnovers and bad moves, which has been a problem at times.

“Yeah, when it comes to turnovers, now you’re going to have these red herrings and you’re going to fall behind plays and you’re going to have layups, so those are the things you have to fix,” said Painter. “That wasn’t the case in this lull (against Michigan State). This lull was miss shots. As long as you take good shots, you’ll have a better chance of defining your defense when you take a good shot. shot and you miss it rather than taking a crazy hit, something unexpected, or obviously returning the basketball.

“It doesn’t mean you take him out, but the percentages will show up as long as you keep taking good shots, you should be able to define your defense and know what’s going on. So the lulls for us are the turnovers or bad shots When we take them out or really take them down, that’s where we’re successful because I think we’re second in the country in field goal percentage, but yet we’re still a good team in offensive rebounds. shots, we’re fine. Like (Saturday), we had lulls, but we had 15 offensive rebounds, and we only had nine turnovers. So you live with it and you get by, and you are still able to score 75.”

Playing three games in three days is tough, but now that Purdue is here, we might as well wrap it up with a title. It means something.

Not everything, but something.

Why are Mackey’s pregame intro cheers always the loudest when the great Gene Keady says “home to 24 Big Ten championships?” Because it matters. Because it was a goal for these 24 Purdue teams – and they achieved it.

Winning this tournament is also a goal for the 2022 Boilermakers.

So go ahead.

The sun will rise on Monday, but it might as well shine on a trophy. Having a race is a good thing, especially with the NCAA just around the corner.

“We had a couple tough losses against Michigan State and Wisconsin, and we didn’t play very well against Indiana,” Painter said of the end of the regular season. . With possessions under five minutes, our guys responded. I think you build confidence by reacting and putting yourself in difficult situations. So I think it was good for us.

“Every time you lose in the Big Ten tournament it can get on your nerves and really help you, then when you win you always think it softens you up a bit, but who wants to lose? You try to win every game you play. “It can go either way. It’s totally possible. Winning can really help you in the NCAA Tournament. Losing can give you a rest or get upset.”

“There are only two ways to look at it. As a manager you would like to know exactly how because you really have to plan your team and have a pulse in your team and yet you have people in your team who haven’t been through those So it’s a tricky situation as a coach because everybody always wants to know what’s about you It’s all about you, you know You’re just waiting for that meltdown You want to keep going build, you want to keep playing well, you want to keep being the aggressor, but then things happen when you lose your footing or you miss free throws or just that kind of demoralizing stuff. That’s a good question it’s a very interesting thing that coaches will always go back and forth I don’t know if there’s only one answer I think you may have an answer for a particular team , but over the years, you won’t get just one answer.

Sunday’s answer? Go win and feel good about yourself. Accomplish one goal, then go on to accomplish more.

  • PURDUE BEAT MICHIGAN STATE: After both teams struggled in the first half, Purdue and Michigan State lit up the scoreboard after halftime with a berth in the Big Ten Tournament Finals on the line. The Boilermakers, led by the 22 points from Jaden Ivey, made enough plays to stay in control and walk away with a win. CLICK HERE
  • WHAT MATT PAINTER SAID AFTER THE VICTORY: Here’s what Purdue head coach Matt Painter said after the team’s 75-70 win over Michigan State in the Big Ten tournament semifinals. Below is the full transcript of his post-match press conference. CLICK HERE
  • WHAT JADEN IVEY, TREVION WILLIAMS SAID AFTER VICTORY: Here’s what Purdue players Jaden Ivey and Trevion Williams said after the team’s 75-70 win over Michigan State in the Big Ten tournament semifinals. Below is the full transcript of their post-match press conference. CLICK HERE
  • PURDUE, MICHIGAN STATE PHOTO GALLERY: See 30 photos from Purdue’s 75-70 win over Michigan State in the Big Ten semifinals. CLICK HERE
  • PURDUE, MICHIGAN STATE LIVEBLOG: Relive Purdue’s victory over Michigan State with all the play-by-play action, right here in our live blog. CLICK HERE

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