Match-up: Michigan (14-3) vs #5 Purdue (15-2)
Date: Tuesday, January 9th 2018
Time: 9PM ET
Location: Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, MI
Line: Purdue (-2)
It is no question that the biggest takeaway from Michigan’s last game was the emergence of promising freshmen roommates Isaiah Livers and Jordan Poole. The dynamic duo have emerged coming off the bench as of late, but their performances in Michigan’s last game signified their arrival.
Not only did each finish with double digit point totals, but they also connected for an electrifying alley-oop near the end of the first half that Livers slammed home to help Michigan’s comeback effort. It was the third dunk of the half for Livers, who added a three-pointer as well.
POOLE TO LIVERS 😱😱😱 HOLY SHIT WHAT AN OOP pic.twitter.com/OR8okCk3ek
— MSZ Wolverines (@MSZ_Wolverines) January 6, 2018
Livers and Poole could not have picked a better game to solidify their impact on this Michigan team. Michigan heads into a grueling two game stretch that sees it host 5th ranked Purdue, and then traveling to East Lansing to take on in state rival and one of the best teams in the country, 4th ranked Michigan State.
Michigan will need all hands-on deck as this is the only time this year (so far) that it will face ranked teams in back to back games. A good showing would put Michigan right in the thick of the race for the B1G crown.
Purdue comes in with a 15-2 (4-0) record, and have won 11 straight games after finishing off Nebraska easily by a score of 74-62 in their last game. Purdue comes in having played just two true road games this season.
It’s two losses came to Tennessee and Western Kentucky in the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas. Since then they have been on fire, winning 11 in a row, including an 89-64 drubbing of then #2 Arizona to close out their trip to the Bahamas.
Purdue ranks #1 in scoring in the Big Ten with 86.1 PPG. The Boilermakers rank ahead of Michigan in nearly every statistical category, but neither Michigan nor Purdue have had extremely challenging schedules of yet. Purdue’s NCSS (non-conference strength of schedule) ranks 95th, while Michigan’s ranks an abysmal 217th.
Key players for Purdue
Carsen Edwards- The 6’1 sophomore has been a nightmare for opposing defenses all season long.
Edwards is a quick guard that loves to attack and isn’t afraid to get into the lane. Carsen is averaging almost 17 PPG this season and is shooting 35% from deep. This will be a tough match-up for MAAR or Zavier.
Isaac Haas- The next player to watch out for is 7’2 big man Isaac Haas. This dude is just huge. He’s tall, he’s thick, and he’s a really tough guy to guard.
Isaac Haas is now in his senior season and he is having yet another good year. Haas is averaging almost 15 PPG and grabbing 5 rebounds per game. Haas has a good post game and he’s a very solid center. His downside is that he gets tired easily and he can’t play as many minutes as other centers.
Vincent Edwards- The last of my 3 key players for Purdue is 6’8 PF Vincent Edwards.
If I only was allowed to describe him in one word, I would say versatile. Edwards can jump, shoot, defend, and finish at the rim. I personally think Vincent Edwards is Purdue’s best and most dangerous player.
Edwards is averaging 14 PPG and almost 9 rebounds per game. Michigan will need the combo of Duncan Robinson and Isaiah Livers to be solid defensively in this match-up.
Michigan will also have to make sure that sharp shooter Dakota Mathias doesn’t get free too much in this game. The senior is averaging 13 PPG and shooting 46% from deep.
Purdue’s style of play
Purdue is unique with their style of play. They score a lot of points but they seem to do it a different way every game. One game they will just pound it down low and abuse smaller teams.
The next game they will get out and run and shoot a bunch of threes. Good teams find different ways to win and can adapt game after game.
There’s a reason Purdue is ranked 5th in the country, they are very good.
Keys to the game for Michigan
- Michigan must start fast from the tip. Saturday against Illinois, the Wolverines allowed the defensive pressure from the Illini to get them off their game. Beilein’s squad missed a lot of open looks and easy passes. Michigan cannot start slow against a team like Purdue.
- No foul trouble! Charles Matthews found himself in foul trouble early against Illinois, committing two fouls in one minute of game time, forcing Beilein to keep him on the bench for the remainder of the half. Staying out of foul trouble especially against Purdue’s size is a huge key.
- Poole and Livers will be a huge key to beating Purdue. It’s likely that neither player will start, but their performances off the bench the last few games have helped Michigan in their surge to seven straight wins.
- Moe Wagner has to be a perimeter threat to get Haas and Purdue’s bigs out of the lane. As much of an advantage as people think Purdue has down low, those bigs will have a really hard time guarding Moe on the perimeter and against Moe’s dribble drive.
Quick game notes
- The last time these two teams met was last season when the Wolverines beat Purdue in the Big Ten tournament 74-70 in overtime.
- This will be the 1st ranked team that Michigan has played since a blowout loss to North Carolina on November 29th.
Before the season, I predicted Michigan would split their season series with Purdue. I still think that will be the case. Home court advantage is obviously a huge factor in college hoops and I think it will make the difference in this game.
If Michigan can stay out of foul trouble and keep their defensive intensity high, I think Michigan gets the win.
Prediction: Michigan 73 Purdue 67
MSZ Staff Predictions
Noah Starr- 77-72 Purdue
Josh Abeare- 74-73 Purdue
Seth Berry- 70-66 Michigan
Charlie Bolone- 72-54 Michigan
Sam Stone- 75-71 Purdue
Hunter Brown- 68-65 Michigan
Brennan Ellis-79-72 Purdue
Noah Roebuck- 75-66 Michigan
Blaine Tikey- 81-77 Michigan (OT)
MSZ writer Kyle Miller contributed to this article.