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Preview: #8 Michigan Basketball vs. #4 Purdue

Michigan probably is in the NCAA Tournament, but a win over the hot Purdue Boilermakers will solidify Michigan's spot in the Big Dance.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Basics

Who: #13 Purdue Boilermakers (25-7, 12-6 Big Ten)

When: Saturday, March 12th, at 1:00 p.m. ET (CBS)

Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse -- Indianapolis, Ind.

Spread: Vegas: TBA | KenPom: TBA

The Stage

Michigan danced on the sidelines in a giant mob when Kam Chatman's buzzer-beating corner three fell through the rim to punctuate a 72-69 upset win over #10 Indiana. Does that mean Michigan will dance to the NCAA Tournament? Probably, but it's not a guarantee. Unlike most bubble teams, Michigan has four wins over RPI top-30 teams and no losses to teams outside the RPI top 75. However, if the selection committee uses its arbitrary cut-offs and favors RPI top-100 wins, Michigan could be in trouble as it is only 4-11 against the RPI top 100. So Michigan may be sweating on Selection Sunday, but U-M can make sure it's not by beating Purdue in the Big Ten Tournament semis.

The Opponent

Purdue finished in a third-place tie in the Big Ten standings and is the #4 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. The Boilermakers advanced to the semifinals after eviscerating Illinois, 89-58, in the quarterfinals earlier this afternoon. They have been one of the better teams in the country, ranking 15th in KenPom before today's events, and have played great basketball in the past two weeks. They are on a four-game winning streak that includes wins over Maryland and Wisconsin. Purdue will be another huge challenge.

The Boilermakers run their offense through the post, and they're pretty good at it, too (20th in adj. efficiency). They make 52.5 percent of their twos (39th) and crash the glass with authority (27th in OR%). However, this offense hits full throttle when it is able to knock down its threes, which forces defenses to extend out to the perimeter and away from the post. And, unfortunately for Michigan, Purdue has been feeling it from deep lately. The Boilermakers have made 45.9 percent of their triples in their last seven games before this afternoon. And today against Illinois? 13-of-27. However, Purdue has a weak link, and it is its turnovers (159th in TO%). Presses have puzzled Purdue all year.

Defensively, Purdue isn't nearly as fierce as it was a few months ago. Throughout the non-conference, Purdue was first in adjusted defensive efficiency. Now? 32nd. Still very good, but no longer elite. What makes the Boilermakers tough to score against is its ability to protect the paint. Opponents have converted only 42.7 percent of their twos (14th) and rebounded only 76.6 percent of their misses (3rd) against Purdue. And the Boilermakers are usually disciplined when opponents try to penetrate (29th in FTR). Plus, they have the perimeter defenders to lock down the three-point line (88th in 3PA%, 32nd in 3P%). But, for as good as the unit is, they don't force turnovers (348th in TO%).

The Personnel

This section from the preview of the last Purdue game still applies.

The Keys

Protect the Paint: Even if Purdue has been feeling it from downtown, the Boilermakers' offense is all about feeding the big men and going after offensive rebounds. Michigan survived this in the meeting in Ann Arbor because Zak Irvin held up against Caleb Swanigan in the post and Michigan's guards hedged down effectively. The Wolverines will need to repeat that tomorrow and hope that the Boilermakers can't make them pay from three.

Mix Up the Defense: The weakest spot in Purdue's roster is at point guard. When pressed or forced to deal with shifting defenses, the Boilermakers struggle to hold onto the ball and get into the offense. With only one day to prepare for Michigan, Purdue may not handle any presses or 1-3-1 zones that John Beilein opts to throw at them.

Make the Buzzer-Beater: Just in case.


Michigan 72, Purdue 69