Monday, January 23, 2012

Preview: Purdue vs Michigan


In the last several games Purdue has been unfortunate in when it played certain teams.

Playing any team in the Big Ten is tough, but Purdue's opponents in the last couple games have possessed a certain mentality that have made it even harder.

They have been either desperate or angry.

Two games ago it faced a team in Wisconsin that was 1-3 in the conference and with one more loss, the Badgers could have possibly kissed its season goodbye, sending them into a season-ending tailspin. Wisconsin came in desperate for a win, got it and are now on a four-game winning streak.

In its most recent game, Purdue faced Michigan State, who was certainly upset coming off two straight losses. This and other factors, including the whole transportation hiccup, contributed to a twenty-five point loss.

And, well, after a disappointing loss at Arkansas Saturday afternoon, Michigan is angry just like Michigan State.

Michigan, who is in a three-way tie atop the Big Ten conference with a record of 5-2, had a chance to win the game in the final seconds. Trey Burke's three-point stepback rimmed in and out, which would have won the game for the Wolverines.

Michigan is a surprise team this season. Michigan still had a lot of talent returning from last season, but Darius Morris, who was their leader and best player, left to the NBA and it was thought to set the Wolverines back.

What people didn't know was how good freshman Trey Burke was going to be. Burke, who is averaging an impressive 14.6 points per game and nearly 5 assists, has been a huge for this team. He has arguably filled Morris' production with zero fall off.

With seniors Zack Novak and Stu Douglass, this Michigan team has experience mixed with young talent that make them very dangerous. Sophomore Tim Hardaway Jr. is emerging as an All Big Ten type player. He is their leading scorer at 15.1 points per game.

Even though this Michigan team is dangerous and has quite a bit of talent, Purdue has one obvious advantage: the Wolverines struggle on the road.

And good news for Purdue fans, the game is being played in Mackey Arena.

Out of the five Michigan losses this season, four of them have come by way of the road, and it has only one true road win, which was at Oakland.  The other loss was against Duke at the Maui Invitational.

Desperate and angry certainly characterizes Purdue's opponents the last couple games and really the entire Big Ten as a whole. This season has been a roller-coaster and it will probably get even more wild.

Going into Tuesday night, Purdue should be adopting both the desperate and angry mentality. Sitting at 4-3 in the conference and 14-6 overall, the Boilermakers are desperate for a win, as a loss would set them back even more in getting tournament consideration. And it should be angry, coming off an embarrassing twenty-five point beating at the hands of the Spartans.

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