This season has been a disaster. Full stop.
Indiana is likely going to turn a 12-2 start to the season into a 15-17 campaign, ineligible for even the most embarrassing of postseason tournaments. They will do this despite the presence of Juwan Morgan, one of the nation’s best players, and Romeo Langford, a projected lottery pick.
The rest of the roster is not remotely bad. It has six other four-star recruits. In the last month, a curious narrative has been pushed that this roster is, in fact, bad. That it has always been bad, and that this a known quality going into the season. That the prognostications of a title challenge, even a far-fetched one, were lunacy. That the expectation to return to the NCAA Tournament was unreasonable. It was Juwan and Romeo and nobody else. Archie cannot be expected to thrive under these conditions!
To believe this is true is to believe that the criteria we often use to evaluate a given recruit has whiffed extensively. Based on average star ranking, the Hoosiers have the most talent in the conference! Contrast Indiana’s situation, horrifyingly, with Purdue. Matt Painter, who oscillates season-to-season between “second-best coach in school history” and “should be launched into space” by Purdue fans, has a roster comprised of two four-stars (Carsen Edwards and Nojel Eastern) and then a gaggle of guys that no one outside of West Lafayette knows anything about.
They’re 10th on KenPom with a decent chance to win the conference title.
Please don’t construe this as me making one of those exhausting posts where the author says something like “GIMME THE HARDWORKING KID WITHOUT THE DISTRACTIONS OF TRYING TO BE IN THE NBA” because that is absolutely not what I’m doing here. What I’m saying is, by the available metrics we have at our disposal, Indiana has significantly more talent than Purdue and, yet, Indiana sucks mongo chungus and Purdue is going to win the Big Ten.
That’s really all a game preview of this matchup requires. Not a lot has changed since the Boilermakers bullied Indiana in West Lafayette a month ago. The Hoosiers are on a 1-10 skid, losing each game by an average of ELEVEN POINTS. They’re not just losing games, they’re largely not even competitive anymore. On the other hand, Purdue is 9-2 over their last 11, losing two road games to Michigan State and Maryland, neither of which are anything to be ashamed of.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:
- Me, flinging myself off Assembly Hall’s catwalk during the under-8: The best timeout in college basketball becomes a rather grisly affair as extra time has to be taken to mop up my mangled carcass before play can resume. Purdue leads 59-28 at the time.
- The fast-approaching Rutger Reckoning: Did you know that if you finish below Rutger in the conference standings IN BASKETBALL that everyone associated with your program has to spend two years in federal prison?! Ironically, it was Indiana that really pushed for this provision when the Scarlet Knights joined as a means of trying to get rid of Illinois. We’ve really been hoisted by our own petard here.
- How many times will we run a set specifically geared at getting Romeo Langford a shot? Just for one game, let him be a ball hog. Four guys doing screens and pindowns while Romeo dribbles around and tries to create a highlight. It can’t be any less effective than whatever we’ve been doing, and it could make for some compelling television. You can be bad, and you can be boring, but you can’t be bad and boring.