I didn’t realize coming in to this one that this is the only meeting between the Illini and Cats this year. So that means we have to live with this one for a while. Blerg.
So what do we call this? A slump? A reality check? Bad luck? Either way, it seemed to be a perfect storm of things not going in Illinois’ favor: no offensive rhythm early, an off night from your top scorers, a good offensive night from guys not named Drew Crawford, etc., etc. I know it’s easier said than done, but I’d really like to see Jon Ekey get back to being more involved with the offense. Because on nights like these, you need multiple guys to step up. For me, the finger is not near the panic button yet, but those who picked the O & B in the bottom half of the league at the start of the year are now saying “told ya so.”
John Groce had a nice summation of this one afterwards…
Looking at the standings, all 30 of you picked Illinois. So all 30 of you picked up a loss. Ehsfan was the only one to pick a really tight margin of victory, so he/she is the only one with a single digit RSDT. Overall, yours truly remains in the lead. We had one new picker this go around, which puts us at 35 pickers for the year. And a special shoutout goes out to ERE for his/her poetry.
At least in my surveying of the B1G so far, the Boilers are flying under the radar. But not in a good way. Matt Painter has and always will be a capable coach, but his roster this year is young, he’s been experimenting with a lot of lineups, and overall you never really know what Purdue team you’re going to get on a given night. Media reports also indicate that MP has instructed his guys recently to dial back the aggression to avoid a plethora of fouls. That doesn’t mean Painter, himself, is taking it easy on his guys, though. If you’re a basketball player, you’re well aware of a certain dreaded practice phrase that is a harbinger of lots o’ running. Purdue guard Rapheal Davis says that phrase was a common theme this week.
You can probably guess where I’m going with my pick by now, even in spite of what we saw tonight. But I will say the Illini should be thankful this one is at home, as the squad has lost the last four at Mackey. In fact, the Boilers had won eight straight up until last year. Be watching in this upcoming game for the smooth play of the Johnson brothers, and if AJ Hammons has a big game, this one will be closer than many think. Still…
My Prediction: Illinois 77, Purdue 74
Side note…as a part of my research for these blogs, I read the most recent game notes for each opponent. And you can always tell which programs are up and which ones are down by what’s in those notes. Teams like Wisconsin can fill dozen of pages with meaningful info. For a rebuilding team like Purdue…well, you get neat charts like the one at left.
Side note, part two…Purdue checks in with another entry on the all-name team.
Coming up Wednesday: Purdue thoughts, standings, & MSU predictions
[Egwu via USA Today; Pete photo, stat chart, and Basil photo via Purdue University; Davis audio via Journal and Courier; Brohm audio via XFL 2001 on YouTube]