The Nittany Lions, fresh off their quick disposal of the Hoosiers, take on the Boilermakers in the last quarterfinal of the Big Ten tournament tonight. The game’s scheduled for 9 PM but that time obviously depends on the game before us, UM and Illinois.
I’m just going to get this out there right now. I feel extraordinarily confident about tonight’s game. I hope that isn’t a direct effect of watching how well we played yesterday against a Patriot League caliber club. But this team looked on a mission yesterday. They don’t care about the Bubble, they’re trying to win this tournament and they sincerely believe they can. There’s probably some questions about Cornley and Battle in regards to their health. I’m not concerned about it. They weren’t stressed too much in yesterday’s game, and they should be ready to go tonight.
While PSU is starting to get nicked up, the Boilers are healing up after dealing with numerous injuries throughout the year. Robbie Hummel is feeling ‘the best he has all season‘, although he’s ‘still not at full health’. Kramer no longer has to wear a facemask for his broken nose and Lewis Jackson no longer has to fight the flu.
So it’s kind of hard to know what to expect during the game. The first encounter, PSU won a close game after dominating on the boards and jumping out to a huge lead. Hummel and Kramer did not play in that game, however. PSU went to Lafayette and proceeded to get stomped, particularly Battle (0 points). But honestly, we all saw that coming. I would’ve been shocked if we were in that game. We were right in the middle of our death stretch and just came off a bad home loss to Wisconsin. Purdue was coming off to road losses and was in a critical must-win situation at home. Battle was already struggling going into that game, and the Boilers just compounded his struggles with their great defense. I wasn’t expecting a goose-egg from Talor, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if he finished with more than 6 or 7 points. However, he looked worn out before that game and considering our offense revolves on his ability to beat his man off the dribble, it was no surprise we only scored 47 points.
So call it a clean slate if you will. I think both teams are going to come out with their A games. The Boilers had a terrible ending to their season, suffering losses to Northwestern and Michigan State. Boiler fans are expecting an angry Purdue team that looks to get back on track tonight. That could be bad news for PSU.
If PSU wants to win, they better get out and run in transition at any chance they can and convert when they do. Controlling the boards like the first game will be a big advantage as well. It would be nice if PSU tried lock down the perimeter on defense, too. Like, if Bobby Buckets is in the game, it might be a good idea to put a hand in his face. If Jones can contain Johnson and prevent PU from setting up any sort of inside-out game, PSU will give themselves an opportunity to pull the upset.
PREDICTION: PSU 66 Purdue 61