Afternoon Linkage: Preparing for Purdue-IU
February, 4, 2010
By Eamonn Brennan | ESPN.com
- The glory days of the Purdue-Indiana rivalry have long since passed, or are at least temporarily on hold. Both schools have had overlapping rebuilding eras in the past decade or so; when Mike Davis and Kelvin Sampson's teams were nationally competitive, Purdue was rebuilding, and now that Purdue is a contender again, IU is still digging out of its post-Sampson crater. But that doesn't diminish what the rivalry means to people in Indiana. In Indiana, you're either a Boilermaker or a Hoosier, and there's no room -- whether in the workplace, or at school, or on the troll-heavy comment threads of the state's major metropolitan newspaper -- for crossover. The best preview of the rivalry you'll read today comes by way of Purdue fan blog Hammer And Rails, which does a brief tongue-in-cheek history of the rivalry before closing with this totally reasonable thought: "This is still a rivalry though. I try not to view it with silly jokes (except for the above section), but with educated respect. We have won the battles in terms of the overall series, but they have won the war on the national scale. Until we win a title or two ourselves, it will be that way." It would be easy for Purdue fans to take this opportunity to stomp all over the struggling Hoosiers, a fan base that likes to remind Purdue loyalists of its five NCAA titles as frequently as possible. Instead, there's respect. Each fan base knows the history and the stakes. That's the mark of a true rivalry. Despite the product on the court in Bloomington tonight, it will still be worth your time.
- When Evan Turner plays Penn State at home, at least one thing should happen: an eye-popping line. The Villian delivered: 27 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, and three steals. Did your eyes pop? Because mine did. This line caused me to ask my Twitter followers for a good reason why Evan Turner shouldn't be player of the year, and the only good reasonable response I got was "He was playing Penn State." Fair point. But Turner has been doing this all season -- except during his back-injury absence, of course -- and with John Wall's recent struggles and the way Ohio State relies on Turner so heavily, doesn't Turner deserve more love? Turns out he's getting it: AnnArbor.com's staff polled its player of the year voters for an updated result, and Turner now trails John Wall by just seven first-place votes (25-18). There's still plenty of time to sort this all out, and John Wall will have plenty to say about it in the meantime, but it's hard to argue the fact that Turner is the most complete and valuable player of any in college basketball. If you can argue it, please do. But like I said: It's hard.
- West Virginia fans debate the behavior of those who threw junk onto the court, including a coin that hit a Pitt assistant coach, during last night's win over Pittsburgh. The consensus? Kick these idiots out. Though there is one dissenter: "I’m an advocate of throwing eggs, oranges or other produce, in addition to metal trashcans. Whatever was thrown didn’t come from the student section. Not sure there is any way to reverse course and become reputed as model fans now. Might as well embrace the dark side and make the Coliseum a house of horrors where ANYTHING goes." Ha. Metal trash cans. Funny stuff. Wait ... he's -- he's joking, right? You guys? Tell me he's joking.
- I did my best to summarize Dominique Jones' dominance in this morning's M.A.; now let John Gasaway discuss just how good the versatile, attacking guard really is. (One half-baked thought I just had about Jones: He sort of plays the way I assumed highly recruited Cincinnati forward Lance Stephenson would play -- physical, face-up, I'm-going-to-the-hole-now-try-to-stop-me sort of stuff. Stephenson has that potential, but Jones is already there.)
- Andy Katz is out in California, and reminds us that, believe it or not, UCLA is still somehow in the hunt.
- For the sake of mentioning it, Kalin Lucas' ankle is indeed merely sprained. He is listed as day-to-day.
- In other Big Ten-State of Michigan axis news, the current rumor is that Manny Harris might stay in Ann Arbor for another season. This strikes me as a particularly good decision, given how bad Harris and the Wolverines have been this year.
- The talk of a potential NCAA tournament expansion to 96 teams is still just that -- talk. But for the sake of fun, and as a handy way of putting into practice just who could hypothetically benefit from such an expansion, Rush The Court maps this year's 96-team NCAA tourney. The results are ... well, you'll see.
- Can anyone go unbeaten in league play? Who? Why or why not? Mike DeCourcy shows his work.