3/8/21 Boilermaker Weekly Round Up – Big Maple Edition

Your weekly Purdue Men’s Basketball snark, and other snidbits from around the Boilermaker Universe

The more things change the more they stay the same. The Big Ten regular season is officially behind us. I for one don’t believe for a second that this season wasn’t written by some screenplay writer who was trying to be somewhat realistic, but clearly a work of fantasy. Truth sometimes, is stranger than fiction.

Some of the common tropes remained the same:

  • Northwestern won some early games so the media fawned over them saying this was going to be a big year for them, then they fell flat on their face.
  • Indiana will not make the NCAA tournament, despite having an All-American candidate starter, and the media is confused despite this happening last year… and the year prior… and…
  • Talking heads doubted Purdue preseason. They finish in the top half of the B1G yet again.
  • The officiating is absolutely the worst in all of the NCAA, despite being a premiere conference. Nobody is really shocked about this one.

Other things were looney as all heck:

  • Michigan State played like crap all year and for much of the season looked to be outside of the bubble. Look out for them in March though…
  • Purdue filled with freshmen become one of the better teams in the league, defeating multiple ranked foes along the way.
  • Wisconsin who back doored into the Big Ten Championship last year somehow went on multi game skids without being punished in the top 25. They haven’t won 3 in a row since December of 2020, and haven’t won 2 in a row since January, and are 6 of their last 15 (40%)… but were ranked 25th last week (likely to drop out of Top 25).
  • No fans. Also, you have to spread out on the bench for some reason, despite the fact that you literally play with, travel along side, and eat dinner near each other constantly.
Photo Credit: Mark Elsner

Regardless, through the trials and tribulations we have gone through some great adventures. We’ve seen the the meteoric rise of teams, only to watch them plummet like Wile E Coyote off a cliff. We’ve seem Ayo Dosunmu play like Superman, then wear a mask like Batman. We’ve seen powerhouses fail and middling programs rise. Luka Garza was shoved down our throats with multiple documentaries during the season highlighting his already overexposure. Did you know that Wisconsin is older than the Chicago Bulls?

Whatever you’ll remember from this movie that we call the 2020-21 basketball season, I know that you’ll never forget it. This season has been something strong, something unique. There has been a strange, COVID stained aura which has hovered over it. It is nothing in which I wanted, but every bit as entertaining as I hoped it would be. Oh boy, this season has been fun!

The Games:

On 3/2 Purdue hosted the (for some reason still ranked) #25 Wisconsin Badgers. Purdue decided to play sloppy and inefficient basketball, but simply out talented the Badgers down the stretch. Zach Edey led the way with a career high 21 points, as Jaden Ivey added 18, and Aaron Wheeler pitched in 11. Boilers hit their free throws late as Purdue took the victory 73-69.

On 3/6 the Boilermakers hosted the Indiana Hoosiers, in a game that was once considered a rivalry. Purdue, again, played a lack luster game. Right as the Boilermakers were beginning to break away, a questionable and 1 play, or uncharacteristic 3 pointer would draw IU nearer. They just wouldn’t go away, and Purdue didn’t seemed concerned with putting them to bed either. None the less, despite multiple Indiana Mr. Basketball award winners, and some 5 star recruits, Indiana was clearly the less skilled team. Like the Wisconsin game earlier this week, Purdue eventually out skilled the Hoosiers. Zach Edey, again, led the way. He scored 20 points, and Jaden Ivey scored 17. A relatively ho hum affair, Purdue won by only 9, 67-58.

Break It Down:

You all know me, by now, and how I evaluate games. The eye test can illustrate things better than wins, losses, and stat sheets.

Purdue did not play well this week. I will be honest with you. The Boilers committed 15 turnovers against Indiana. They couldn’t take advantage of opportunities against Wisconsin. Tre Williams and Eric Hunter Jr. were shells of themselves this week. What happened? Purdue still won, twice.

There is something to be said about winning ugly and grinding one out. That is what you need this time of year. The back and forth rock fight against Wisconsin is what this team needs to sharpen itself for the post season. What this team needs to try to avoid is playing beneath itself. Poor officiating or not, Purdue playing down to Indiana’s level is not going to behoove them in the big dance. Sure, they won, but that is how poor habits are made. Yes, this was a rivalry game but, the next step for this Purdue team is to stamp the fire out of a weaker opponent. Don’t allow the glimmer of hope. When you allow a 13-seeded directional unknown university the ability to hang around, that is when you get upset.

What Went Well:

  • 18: Total assists from Purdue against Wisconsin. Clearly, Edey has been money from the post, so having a lot of assists is not entirely unsurprising.
  • 4: Games in a row that Aaron Wheeler has really brought it. This week Wheeler racked up 19 points and 13 rebounds. This on top of playing excellent defense. The game of basketball is really fun when Aaron Wheeler is successful. He seems like a wonderful guy, and I am thrilled for him.
  • 3: Players who scored in double digits against Wisconsin. Part of this team’s deadliness is their balance. There are 7-8 players on this team that I would not be surprised if they went off for 20 points. There are 9 players that I wouldn’t be surprised if they scored in double digits. Against Wisconsin, Edey, Ivey, and Wheeler all scored in double figures. That keeps the defense on their heels, which is incredibly important.
  • 1843: As of the time of publishing this article, this is the amount of days since IU Men’s Basketball has defeated the Purdue Men’s Basketball team. This surpasses 5 total years meaning current IU super-seniors have never seen IU beat Purdue.
Photo Credit: Mark Elsner

Opportunities for Improvement:

  • Junior stars: Trevion Williams and Eric Hunter Jr. struggled this week. Luckily Zach Edey and Jaden Ivey picked up the pace and took advantage. Are teams hedging to take these two away? Are they just struggling? Either way, I know that these two men are going to work their tails off and be in position to keep striding forward for the rest of the year.
  • 40: Total fouls called in the Wisconsin contest. I wasn’t an engineer, but the math fleshes out to 1 foul per one minute of game time. Oh, there were 47 free throws shot as well. Just brutal. Unwatchable. When Kevin Warren took over as commissioner of the B1G I was hoping that he would hold the officials accountable for their ineptitude in the league. Honestly, since he has shown up things have gotten worse. Couple the Wisconsin game officiating performance with Bo Boroski’s in IU game, AND Boroski’s performance on Sunday in the Iowa vs Wisconsin game… The Big Ten is a mockery in the nation when it comes to officiating. Hell, Bo Boroski trended in the top 10 on twitter for a few hours following his particularly head scratching performance on Sunday. Please do something, Big Ten. I just want good, consistent officiating performances. We can’t even get decent, competent officiating.

Big Man on Campus:

The BMOC this week is the biggest man of them all.

To say that Zach Edey was dominant this week is an understatement. Edey was the high scorer in both games this week. Combined he notched 41 points 16 rebounds. The best part? He did this in only 39 total minutes played. That equates to 1.05 points per minute, and .41 rebounds per minute.

His strides are been both literally and figuratively massive. Having played just a few short years of basketball coming into this season, Edey has improved tremendously throughout the year. Going from an overlooked player to dominating ranked opponents and the All American caliber center of your biggest rival prior to the completion of his first full season… Yeah, that is pretty good.

A Look Ahead:

Thanks to a bouncing ball and a cookie crumbling (as well as some questionable calls by Bo Boroski) Purdue could not secure the 3 seed in the Big Ten Tournament.

None the less, Purdue did secure a double bye, with one of the youngest teams in the nation, in the toughest conference in the nation. The Boilers finish 1/2 game behind Iowa for the 3rd spot in conference. Kind of wish the Big Ten would’ve rescheduled that Nebraska at Mackey game, don’t we?

Anyways, Purdue will more than likely be taking on Ohio State on Friday of the Big Ten Tournament. Purdue has beaten Ohio State twice this season, one a solid victory at Mackey, and the other needed Jaden Ivey’s heroics late. Either way, beating a team three times in a season is a tall order, especially when that team is as strong as Ohio State.

The bottom line is that nobody expected this. Matt Painter won’t win the B1G Coach of the Year award, but he deserves it. There are other coaches who have had more success this season. Their success, however, was expected. Purdue’s success wasn’t.

Awards mean nothing, really. At this point it is survive and advance. The Boilers are allowed, maybe, one loss remaining this season. Time to make it count.

Its March, baby!

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About Benjamin Kolodzinski 51 Articles
Blending the passion of a sports fan with years of media experience, Ben Kolodzinski is a unique personality for ISC Purdue. Since the 2017-18 NCAA seasons, Ben has written weekly columns for ISC, with a style that can only be described as snarky, irreverent, and often times irrelevant. A 2008 graduate from Purdue West Lafayette, Kolodzinski has worked for several local and regional media outlets. Best known for his television and radio work at Lakeshore Public Media (Lakeshore Public Television, and 89.1 The Lakeshore), Kolodzinski helped grow Northwest Indiana's only nightly news show Lakeshore News Tonight, along with The Region's only local sports shows Prep Sports Report, and Prep Football Report. Kolodzinski is known, locally, for having a fun loving and gregarious personality, and for attempting to inject humor into his reporting... sometimes successfully.

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