Purdue thoughts, standings, & MSU predictions
Ah, the joys of going up against a seven footer with a hot hand. I mentioned in the last blog that I was hoping for an off night from Hammons, and the basketball gods swatted down my wish. Hammons’ play, too, seemed to be contagious, as the Johnson brothers drove with ease to the basket, especially in the first half. With all that post play considered, I was mumbling to myself up in section C 27 tonight that this one might come down to free throws. The deities weren’t benevolent to the home team there either. It may sound obvious, but tonight makes me believe that wins for this team are going to be tough to come by if it’s (1) outsized or (2) not shooting well…or even (3) a combo of both.
John Groce had a similar opinion on Hammons' play...
One positive shoutout, though, goes to Malcom Hill, who was the most productive off the young Illini bench and was at times able to bust through the Purdue defense…earning some style points in the process.
So looking big picture…could an eight game losing streak really be in the cards for the O & B? Of course, no one wants to see it happen, but given what we’ve seen lately and the opponents ahead, it’s a reality you have to consider. Keep in mind that last year’s squad rebounded from a 2-7 start. But that’ll be tougher to do this time.
Taking a look at the picks this game, only three of you hit the jackpot, and of those three, it benefitted walker the most...as he's now in the lead.
Time for a sparty party…
In an earlier blog, I picked Wisconsin as the top dog in the league this year. But as long as Tom Izzo is at MSU, you can never count the Spartans out. What’s remarkable is that they’ve had so much success this year while dealing with so many injuries. One reporter at Izzo’s press conference this week referred to the squad as a M*A*S*H unit. A big part of overcoming those injuries is having capable guys coming off the bench…"super subs" as Izzo puts them. Case in point: in Adreian Payne’s absence this past weekend, Denzel Valentine played around 10 minutes above his average and had a near double double. (Yes, I'm aware he struggled tonight. The point still stands.) Elsewhere, Gary Harris has improved his three point shooting, and the Spartans are game to run n gun.
Back to that Izzo presser for a second. This quote of getting his guys to think big picture stood out to me.
Izzo is also greatly respected among coaches. When I was in Orange Krush, he was the only coach that we didn’t heckle. And don’t forget how happy he made Spartan nation when he turned down the Cleveland job. His sense of humor works in his favor too…
My prediction: MSU 79, Illinois 61
- Tonight was bad, but at least our scoreboard didn’t eat the ball.
- The search for those Izzo Midnight Madness photos up there led me to this snapshot of a celebrity guest at the Hall in 2007. Remember his not so nice words for the President at the time?
Coming up Saturday: MSU thoughts, standings, & OSU predictions
[Izzo audio via msuspartans.com & Funny or Die, Izzo photos via AP & zumapress.com, Piven photo via AP]