Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Dare to dream?

This has been a tough basketball season, my friends. Rumors of future attrition, attitude problems, ugly 30 point losses...it's had them all. It's quite a contrast to what Purdue fans have become accustomed to in the last six years.

Hard work, toughness, chemistry, great defense...all seemed to be optional for most of the team for much of this season...that didn't seem right...and the results showed that it wasn't. Purdue fans talked about how far Painter would let the team fall...how he was trying to break them by allowing them to lose, lose and lose again; I don't really agree with that premise- I really believe he was as befuddled as those of us in the stands as to why nothing was clicking.  But after a week of assessment, rest and re-grouping at the hands of IU in Ass. Hall, things changed, as J detailed yesterday.

We had some people ask why we haven't made any predictions about the tourney...I'll be honest- I've never been one to make predictions about the B1G tourney.  Another honest moment- I don't like conference tournaments too much.  Sure, they're fun to watch, especially as teams, horrible teams, like Liberty punch their ticket and others knock you on your arse with unexpected outcomes...but for Purdue fans, the tournament that starts this Thursday hasn't been a ton of fun for us as fans. The championship of 2010 was fun, but that team was supposed to do big things...then lived up to their billing in the BT tourney.  The committee shortly after gave the 27-5 Boilers a four seed.  So forgive me if I don't care too much for the whole conference tourney thing.

This tournament is a different animal than what we've seen the last few seasons...Purdue is expected to win just one game...expectations are low...the pressure is off.  Hopefully, fans and the league in general are all sleeping on one of Matty's worst teams (on paper); but I doubt it.  If they've checked the RPI recently, they might literally miss Purdue...they're waaaaaaaay down the list at 114.

But a few media outlets like the Boilers as a darkhorse; so do I. So let's dream for a moment...

Purdue plays Nebraska in the first game.  The Cornhuskers' biggest win of the season, by far, was that over the enigmatic, Senior-laden Golden Gophers...But that game seemed like a force of nature more than a game, and Goldy just happened to be in the way of a special night. Minnesota has struggled mightily in the second half of the season while Nebraska has fought to get better...so on Senior night, and in the final game in Nebraska's old arena, the Cornhuskers got the W. Sadly for the 'Huskers, the Devaney Center won't travel with them to Chicago...nor will many of their fans. All of their decent wins came in front of a friendly crowd.  A half-empty NBA arena won't be as welcoming, nor will the Boilers.  Without anyone to guard him but a rotund Brazilian, Hammons gets silly and TJohn stays hot.

#7 Purdue 74
#10 Nebraska 59

Next up, the white hottttttt, well-rested Bucknuts play the Boilers.
Byrdy Dancing?

The last time these two met, Ohio State seemed to toy with Purdue...kinda like a bigger kid on the playground, they just wouldn't let Purdue get closer than seven points.  Purdue couldn't stop Thomas' quick release jumper, and let him get comfortable way too often...and Aaron Craft's blush was just right that night as the carrying machine batted RonJohn's hand away and scored 15.  I think both of those guys will still be a tough match-up...and Matta has them dialed in, but they're due for an unexpected loss...and Purdue believes things will be different this time because they are a different team.  RayDay matches Thomas' output, Hammons gets a double double and adds 5 blocks all while Byrd makes it rain in the United Center.

#7 Purdue 69
#2 aOSU 66

The unlikable combo of thuggy size (not quite sure what that is) and a whiny politician of a coach lead Sparty into the semis to play the Boilers next. Hot shooting Gary Harris helped the Spartans slide past Iowa...and Izzo has dominated Purdue of late, both on the court and on the recruiting trail.  The streak ends in Chicago. TJohn plays his best defensive game of the year, cools down Harris while Marcius beats MSU at their own game and muscles Purdue to the next round...TJohn and RonJon seal it with FTs down the stretch (it's my dream, I can write it however I'd like).

#7 Purdue  71
#3 MSU 67

At four wins, Purdue is on their longest winning streak of the season...I guess it's not really hard to believe when you look at the record, but Purdue, at this point in the dream sequence would be in unchartered water and feeling pretty confident. But ahead lies the big, ugly forehead gorilla of the conference, IU.

IU was either #1 in the nation or in the top-5 for the whole dang year.  Not one, but two all-conference/National POY finalist players led IU as the supporting cast was also damned good.  Purdue barely showed a pulse versus IU as we all know too well; if it wasn't for Hammons 30 point game in the first "contest", it'd be tough to remember if any Purdue players even laced them up to play their rivals.
Nobody puts Rayby
in the corner.

The stats and not-too-distant past would tell us this one is a cakewalk for IU...but in the ethereal land where I sleep, things have changed since mid-February.

Byrd/TJohn combine for a masterpiece from long distance as Purdue knocks IU out of the number 1 overall seed for the dance...Sheehey's dunk to win clanks off of the back of the rim as time expires.

#7 Purdue 77
#1 IU 76

If this dream scenario was to play out, Purdue would probably be a 12 seed playing in the so-called first round (play-in round), playing a team like Iona or Virginia.  They'd be 19-16, and miraculously would have salvaged a season made for the junk heap into one that would be remembered and savored for a legendary run.

Purdue has an improbable road ahead of them starting Thursday at 6:30pm...just to get to the NIT.  To get above .500, Purdue must beat the tenth-best team in the nation.

To go to the dance, they'll have to beat #8 and #3 (or possibly #5) as well.  They'll have to best three of the nation's best players along with two of the conference's best Freshman...they'll have to beat three top-10 teams in a four day period, two of the conference's best coaches in March, an up-and comer and a fraud cheerleader great motivator.

It's not impossible...but it's damned close.  It truly would be something that I'd have a hard time believing was anything but a dream following a nightmarish season (at times).

By finishing the regular season the way they did, Purdue gave fans, and more importantly, themselves, a reason to hope for what's on the horizon...if they could even make some noise in the tournament, it might help me enjoy the big dance a bit more than I feel like I will at this point.  I love this time of year, but as much as I love it, I hate Purdue not being a real part of it.

There's typically a surprise story that grabs the attention of the nation during the conference tourneys...The 20 loss Liberty Flames might be the worst team to ever enter the NCAA tournament, but much of the nation doesn't care about this team that will probably be knocked out before 3/21 even arrives. But if Purdue waltzed through this tournament to earn its way to the ball, our Boilers might be the most-unlikely entrant in a long, long time.

Has a switch truly been flipped from mediocre-also-ran to world-beater? One can dream.


bologna said...

Only At-large teams play in the (first round) play-in games. So Purdue would play a higher seed in the (second round) round of 64, upon winning the big ten tourney.


boilerdowd said...

So you're saying there's a chance?!?

Purdue Matt said...

You're confusing the 08/09 season with the 09/10 season. Purdue won the BTT in 08/09 and finished 25-9.

The Brilliant Moron said...

I have a similar dream. I try not to let myself have it -- I don't want to get my hopes up. But it's hard not to.

The only difference in mine is that Wisconsin beats Indiana before we get to them. As sad as it is, and as hard as it is to admit, I can't even dream of beating IU this year.

J Money said...

I don't know... I'd like another shot at Indiana. Purdue hasn't really played them yet.

Plus the old adage about beating a team three times in a season being hard is actually true.

boilerbugle said...

This season has made me glad I live in upstate ny, a college basketball dessert (Syracuse stuff is sold in the walmarts here, so maybe that's who i'm supposed to be cheering for?) and I don't have to be around obnoxious IU fans. anyways, thanks for the post! This team Beating IU to win the btt could be legend making for these players.

zlionsfan said...

I don't actually want a chance to meet IU again in the tournament. I want them to lose on Friday to Illinois on a controversial call that IU fans will stew about for a week as home cooking (probably) and unjustifiable (it's Big Ten officiating) before they're booted from the NCAA tournament by an 8 or a 9 on Saturday. (Because we're talking about dreams. I think it's more likely that they'll roar through Chicago, but whatever.)

On Friday, as the Boilers stifle Deshaun Thomas by playing a rarely-used no-box-and-five (despite all five Purdue players constantly guarding Thomas, OSU still shoots only 40% from the field), Iowa will trip up Michigan State as the Spartans have two players ejected for throwing elbows; Izzo follows as he complains, rightly, that if they've been doing that all season, now is hardly the time to start penalizing them for it. Wisconsin will beat Michigan just to ensure a more painful semifinal.

Wisconsin will beat Illinois to continue to inflict pain on CBS; Purdue will roll Iowa because I am writing this. Then on Sunday, the Boilers will knock off Wisconsin thanks to officials finally calling fouls on Wisconsin's brand of "defense": Hammons puts up 40, including a stellar 20-22 from the line, and Purdue steals a bid from some poor mid-major that'll have to settle for a road opener in the NIT.

I'm actually a bit concerned about OSU ... they're on more of a roll than Purdue, not having lost since the debacle in Madison, and their 9-point win in Bloomington was Indiana's worst home loss in two seasons. The crowd will generally be on Purdue's side, I would guess, favoring the underdog ... but if Purdue makes it to Saturday, they'll definitely have earned that spot.

Dridge said...

Smoke another one...