College Basketball Nation: Purdue Boilermakers

Video: Boston College-Purdue preview

December, 3, 2013

Andy Katz and Seth Greenberg take a look at the matchup between Boston College and Purdue in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

Is A.J. Hammons ready for big time?

October, 28, 2013
A.J. Hammons is big. That's what we knew about him before he arrived at Purdue last fall: Hammons, the No. 82-ranked player in his recruiting class, was 7-feet tall and (at least) 275 pounds and more athletic and mobile than any 7-foot, 275 pound human being has a right to be. Being that big is more advantage than not during recruiting, obviously, but it has its downside — namely, it causes scouts to question whether all that size simply makes a player look dominant in high school in ways he wouldn't be at the next level. Skepticism creeps in.

A year later, Hammons — who averaged 10.6 points, six rebounds and two blocks per game as a freshman — is regarded much differently. That mix of size and athleticism is real; his ability to change college basketball games is a matter of record; the NBA future seems like a no-brainer. There are no more questions about what he can do on the court. Other, more pressing questions have replaced them.

[+] EnlargeA.J. Hammons
Michael Hickey/Getty ImagesPurdue's A.J. Hammons has immense pro potential, but it's not a slam dunk.
That brings us to Monday's news, announced by Purdue, that Hammons would miss the first three games of Purdue's season — two exhibitions and the Nov. 8 season opener — for undisclosed violations of team rules.

On its face, this is nowhere close to a big deal. Check that: It is the exact opposite of a big deal, full stop. Exhibition games don't matter and the Boilermakers will be just fine against Northern Kentucky on Nov. 8 with or without their center. They'll manage.

But the suspension doesn't bode well in the long view. Hammons' freshman season revealed immeasurable promise — not only physical gifts, but genuine basketball skill, too. Hammons frequently was dominant, even against very good centers (see his work against top-five pick Cody Zeller for reference), through a combination of size, agility and touch around the rim. This summer, as NBA people took stock of a loaded 2014 draft class, it wasn't unusual to hear scouts mention Hammons as a potential first-rounder, even a lottery pick, if his sophomore season continued that pace.

To get there, Hammons needed to trim some more baby fat and add more muscle. He needed to round out his game, improve his footwork, become a better passer and free-throw shooter and hoist approximately 8 quadrillion right-handed baby hooks. He needed to be able to play for more than 23 minutes per game. He needed to truly dive in to the offseason workouts -- in other words, to do all of the little things that sculpt immense talent into an immensely desirable NBA skill set.

By all accounts, Hammons did that. If I had to lay odds, I would guess Hammons is still very much in line for a breakout sophomore season. But a suspension for violating undisclosed team rules undermines that impression. At the very least, it raises eyebrows. Hammons has a chance to be very good, even great. But there is still much work be to done.

You Gotta See This: Big Ten

October, 22, 2013
Yogi FerrellBrian Spurlock/USA TODAY SportsSophomore point guard Yogi Ferrell will take on a much bigger role for the Hoosiers this season.
It's college basketball preview season, and you know what that means: tons of preseason info to get you primed for 2013-14. But what do you really need to know? Each day for the next month, we'll highlight the most important, interesting or just plain amusing thing each conference has to offer this season — from great teams to thrilling players to wild fans and anything in between. Up next: Promise and uncertainty in the Big Ten.

You have to feel for the Big Ten. After decades of punchlines -- 10 losses in its first 10 ACC-Big Ten Challenges, groaningly slow basketball, and a dearth of NCAA tournament success -- last season the Big Ten finally ascended to the conference-hierarchy throne.

Its reign lasted about as long as Robb Stark's.*

When the ACC officially added Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame this summer, it became the de facto top league by sheer force of acquisition. But even in a status-quo alternate universe, the Big Ten wasn't a guarantee to maintain its exalted position in 2013-14. This is less an argument about conference strength than a way into a summary of the league's individual parts: This season, uncertainty is the one true king.

Nowhere is this crystallized more clearly than in Bloomington, Ind. The Hoosiers, now fully rebuilt by coach Tom Crean, waved farewell to two top-five picks (Victor Oladipo, Cody Zeller) and two dependable four-year seniors (Jordan Hulls, Christian Watford) this spring. What remains might be as talented as any group in the Big Ten this season: Sophomore point guard Yogi Ferrell, sophomore wingman Jeremy Hollowell, highly recruited freshman forwards Noah Vonleh and Luke Fischer, top-100 small forwards Troy Williams and Stanford Robinson. But save senior guard Will Sheehey, the Hoosiers will look totally different when you see them in November. With all that talent and capable guard play, they might be very good. But no one can know for certain.

You don't have to squint too hard to see this trend elsewhere in the league. Iowa is looking to make a leap from sneaky-good to just plain good. Purdue has a potential lottery-pick center in A.J. Hammons, but what else? Northwestern will be playing modern basketball for the first time in 13 years. With Tim Frazier back, Penn State has a chance to be legitimately good not terrible. Nebraska will introduce a player who could be one of the best recruits in school history (New Zealand native Tai Webster). Illinois turned over whole swaths of production, but everyone expects John Groce to come up with an answer. New Minnesota coach Richard Pitino wants the Gophers to run, run, run. Even Michigan will be figuring out how to make its high-powered attack run without the national player of the year. And Ohio State has to score without Deshaun Thomas.

Perhaps the only sure things are that a) Michigan State will compete for the national title, and b) Wisconsin will finish no lower than fourth.

That seems like a lot of things to know about the 2013-14 Big Ten. It's really only one thing: We don't know that much about the 2013-14 Big Ten. It could be great. It could be meh. There's only one way to find out.

* The North remembers.
This week, is breaking down the nonconference schedules of each team in nine of the nation's top leagues. Next up: the Big Ten.


Toughest: at UNLV (Nov. 26), vs. Oregon (Dec. 14 in Portland, Ore.), vs. Missouri (Dec. 21 in St. Louis)
Next toughest: at Georgia Tech (Dec. 3)
The rest: Alabama State (Nov. 8), Jacksonville State (Nov. 10), Valparaiso (Nov. 13), Bradley (Nov. 17), Chicago State (Nov. 22), IPFW (Nov. 29), vs. Auburn (Dec. 8 in Atlanta), Dartmonth (Dec. 10), UIC (Dec. 28 in Chicago)

Toughness scale: 6 -- It's hard to really give the Illini a solid schedule grade, because it's hard to know just how good Illinois' best opponents really are. For example: It is never easy to win in the Thomas & Mack Center, but still-unproven center Khem Birch is the most certain thing about the Rebels' personnel in 2013-14; it looks like Dave Rice's team will be a quality road opponent, but impossible to make a guarantee to this effect. The same goes for Oregon and Missouri, both of whom should be solid at the very least, either of which could completely disappoint if their respective transfers don't pan out. A six feels fair to me, but it's an educated guess.


Toughest: 2K Sports Classic (Nov. 21-22), at Syracuse (Dec. 3), vs. Notre Dame (Dec. 14 in Indianapolis)
Next toughest: N/A?
The rest: Chicago State (Nov. 8), LIU Brooklyn (Nov. 12), Samford (Nov. 15), Stony Brook (Nov. 17), Evansville (Nov. 26), North Florida (Dec. 7), Oakland (Dec. 10), Nicholls State (Dec. 20), Kennesaw State (Dec. 22)

Toughness scale: 5 -- Two years since the collapse of its long-standing annual date with Kentucky, the Hoosiers have yet to find a home-and-home or even a neutral-court partnership to replace the strength they lost when the rivalry went awry. As such, Indiana's marquee nonconference games have been reduced to their participation in events: The 2K Sports Classic, where they'll play Washington and then either Boston College or Connecticut; the Crossroads Classic, where they'll play Notre Dame in front of a predominantly crimson crowd in downtown Indianapolis; and the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The good news, at least as it pertains to schedule strength, is that this season's ACC/Big Ten draw sends IU to Syracuse, where they'll face a rabid Orange crowd and another very good Jim Boeheim team just months removed from their season-ending loss to the Cuse in March.


Toughest: Battle 4 Atlantis (Nov. 28-30), Notre Dame (Dec. 3)
Next toughest: at Iowa State (Dec. 13)
The rest: UNC-Wilmington (Nov. 8), Nebraska-Omaha (Nov. 10), Maryland Eastern Shore (Nov. 14), Abilene Christian (Nov. 17), Penn (Nov. 22), vs. Drake (Dec. 7 in Des Moines, Iowa), Farleigh Dickinson (Dec. 9), Arkansas-Pine Bluff (Dec. 22)

Toughness scale: 6 -- Last season, the ahead-of-schedule Hawkeyes played some of the best defense in the Big Ten, finished top 20 in the Pomeroy adjusted efficiency rankings and made a deep run in the NIT. They were easily one of the best 60 teams in the country, but their nonconference schedule was so weak it precluded Fran McCaffery's squad from serious tournament consideration even as it played tight games with the best teams in the Big Ten every night. That shouldn't be as much of a problem this season, when Iowa will benefit from participation in the Battle 4 Atlantis (they'll face Xavier in the first round, and either Tennessee or UTEP in the second, maybe Kansas in the final?) and a much better opponent (Notre Dame) in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. They also get Iowa State -- which lost much of last season's excellent offensive group, but retained rising sophomore Georges Niang and that insane Hilton Coliseum home court -- in a quality true road fixture. This slate still isn't a murderers' row, but it shouldn't hold the Big Ten's most fashionable title sleeper back, either.


Toughest: Puerto Rico Tip-Off (Nov. 21-24), at Duke (Dec. 3), Arizona (Dec. 14)
Next toughest: at Iowa State (Nov. 17), vs. Stanford (Dec. 21 in Brooklyn)
The rest: UMass-Lowell (Nov. 8), South Carolina State (Nov. 12), Coppin State (Nov. 29), Houston Baptist (Dec. 7), Holy Cross (Dec. 28)

Toughness scale: 9 -- The 2012-13 national runners-up, and 2013-14 Big Ten co-favorites, will play a nonconference schedule befitting their newly elevated aspirations. The Puerto Rico Tip-Off, with VCU and Georgetown lurking, ranks among the best tournament events of November. The trip to Duke for the ACC/Big Ten needs little in the way of explanation. (Man, that is going to be a fun game.) The trip to Iowa State is no laughing matter, for reasons outlined in Iowa's blurb; the trip to Brooklyn to face defensive-minded Stanford will be a challenge, too. But the X factor in this schedule comes Dec. 14 when Sean Miller's loaded Arizona group arrives in Ann Arbor for a good old-fashioned campus nonconference tilt. Those kinds of games are rare in our modern, neutral court-dominated landscape, and neither program needed to schedule this one. But I'm happy to speak for most college basketball fans when I say how glad I am that they did.


Toughest: vs. Kentucky (Nov. 12 in Chicago), North Carolina (Dec. 4), vs. Georgetown (Feb. 1 in New York City)
Next toughest: Coaches vs. Cancer Classic (Nov. 22-23), at Texas (Dec. 21)
The rest: McNeese State (Nov. 8), Columbia (Nov. 15), Portland (Nov. 18), Mount St. Mary's (Nov. 29), Oakland (Dec. 14), North Florida (Dec. 17), New Orleans (Dec. 28)

Toughness scale: 8 -- Most of Michigan State's schedule strength is derived from that monster Champions Classic matchup with potential preseason No. 1 Kentucky, John Calipari's most laughably-loaded group of talented freshmen ever -- which, two years removed from the 2012's 38-2 national title run, is saying something. The Dec. 4 home date against North Carolina won't be easy, but if the Tar Heels are without leading scorer and noted rental car enthusiast P.J. Hairston, the Spartans will be obvious favorites in the Breslin Center. Best-case scenario in the Coaches vs. Cancer (a win over Virginia Tech and a matchup with Oklahoma) still isn't much. The real pivot point comes in late December at Texas. For much of the past decade, that has been a brutal road test having less to do with Texas' crowds (sleepy) than with its teams (defensively brutal). If Barnes' team rebounds from last season's struggles and gets back to its usual spot in the top third of the Big 12, Tom Izzo's schedule looks a good sight harder. If not, it really comes down to that Kentucky game -- and what a game it will be. (Update: My first dig into the Spartans' schedule missed their Feb. 1 Super Bowl Sunday game against Georgetown in Madison Square Garden. The Hoyas are a bit of an unknown quantity without Otto Porter, but that's almost guaranteed to be a tough win to come away with, so I bumped them from seven to eight.)


Toughest: Maui Invitational (Nov. 25-27),
Next toughest: at Richmond (Nov. 16), Florida State (Dec. 3)
The rest: Lehigh (Nov. 8), Montana (Nov. 12), Coastal Carolina (Nov. 19), Wofford (Nov. 21), New Orleans (Dec. 7), South Dakota State (Dec. 10), Nebraska-Omaha (Dec. 20), Texas A&M Corpus Christi (Dec. 28)

Toughness scale: 4 -- The Gophers have at least one true standout game on their schedule: Their first-round Maui Invitational matchup with Syracuse, the best the 2013 Maui field has to offer. Which is not to say their trip to Richmond will be easy; indeed, after an injury-plagued 2012-13 season, Chris Mooney's program looks ready to pop back into tourney-bid contention this season. But that's basically it, besides a decent second Maui game with either Arkansas or Cal. Without would-be freshmen Andrew Wiggins (who chose Kansas instead) and Xavier Rathan-Meyes (who chose FSU, but wasn't cleared academically by the NCAA), the Seminoles could be in for another sub-.500 campaign, and from there it's all home cupcakes befitting a transitioning group -- which, under first-year coach Richard Pitino, is exactly what the Gophers are.


Toughest: at Creighton (Dec. 8), at Cincinnati (Dec. 28)
Next toughest: Charleston Classic (Nov. 21-22)
The rest: Florida Gulf Coast (Nov. 8), Western Illinois (Nov. 12), South Carolina State (Nov. 17), Northern Illinois (Nov. 30), Miami (Dec. 4), Arkansas State (Dec. 14), The Citadel (Dec. 21)

Toughness scale: 5 -- The signs of second-year coach Tim Miles' tepid forward progress are evident not only in the impending opening of Nebraska's new $300 million arena, or in his signing of impressive New Zealand native Tai Webster (who will immediately be the Cornhuskers' best player when he takes the court against Dunk City in early November), but also in Nebraska's schedule. The Charleston Classic could yield a matchup with New Mexico (not to mention first-round opponent UMass), the Dec. 28 trip to Cincinnati is a perfectly respectable road trip, and Dec. 8's visit to Creighton -- the one program whose success can be said to have played a role in Nebraska's newfound commitment to hoops -- has a chance to put the Cornhuskers on the radar before Big Ten play commences. Miles & Co. are still a year or two away, but there are green shoots all over the place here, and the slightly improved schedule is just one more piece of evidence.


Toughest: Las Vegas Invitational (Nov. 28-29), at NC State (Dec. 4)
Next toughest: at Stanford (Nov. 14)
The rest: Eastern Illinois (Nov. 9), Illinois State (Nov. 17), UIC (Nov. 20), IUPUI (Nov. 22), Gardner-Webb (Nov. 25), Western Michigan (Dec. 7), Mississippi Valley State (Dec. 16), Brown (Dec. 22), DePaul (Dec. 27)

Toughness scale: 6 -- First-year coach Chris Collins is the first person to admit that his rebuilding project will be a multiyear affair. The immediate future will be just as challenging: Collins has to get a group of players recruited to play former coach Bill Carmody's very specific (some would say gimmicky) style to update their entire philosophy toward a modern and more conventional approach. But Collins does have some players at his disposal in Year 1 -- fifth-year medical redshirt Drew Crawford, post-suspension junior JerShon Cobb, promising sophomore center Alex Olah -- set to play a nonconference schedule that helpfully avoids the softness that plagued the Wildcats' nascent tournament hopes in recent seasons. Two true road noncon games at Stanford and NC State complement a solid pair of back-to-back fixtures (Missouri, UCLA) in the Las Vegas Invitational. The point of all this? Northwestern has the schedule to compete for a tournament bid in Year 1. Whether it will have the results to get there -- and make Collins a lionized, conquering hero in 12 months’ time -- will be fascinating to see.


Toughest: at Marquette (Nov. 16), vs. Notre Dame (Dec. 21 in New York City)
Next toughest: Maryland (Dec. 4)
The rest: Morgan State (Nov. 9), Ohio (Nov. 12), American (Nov. 20), Wyoming (Nov. 25), North Florida (Nov. 29), Central Connecticut State (Dec. 7), Bryant (Dec. 11), North Dakota State (Dec. 14), Delaware (Dec. 18), Louisiana-Monroe (Dec. 27)

Toughness scale: 4 -- Save a trip to Duke, the Buckeyes' early schedule in 2012 was so gentle as to make their quality difficult to gauge. It took until February, when Shannon Scott, Aaron Craft, Lenzelle Smith Jr. and Sam Thompson congealed into a monster on the defensive perimeter, for the Buckeyes took on the look of a national title contender. (And they would have gotten to the Final Four, too, if it wasn't for those meddling kids Wichita State Shockers.) This season's slate is a bit more difficult, but not too much; its main attraction is that early road trip to Marquette, where Buzz Williams has forged an annual Sweet 16 attendee. Even if Dez Wells and the Maryland Terrapins prove better than expected, it's hard to see how they can put enough points on the Buckeyes in Columbus to keep pace. Four seems about right.


Toughest: at Pittsburgh (Dec. 3)
Next toughest: La Salle (Nov. 19), Barclays Center Classic (Nov. 29-30 in Brooklyn, N.Y.)
The rest: Wagner (Nov. 9), Bucknell (Nov. 13), Longwood (Nov. 24), Monmouth (Nov. 26), Marshall (Dec. 7), Princeton (Dec. 14), Mount St. Mary's (Dec. 22)

Toughness scale: 4 -- Like Nebraska, Penn State's schedule is improved over recent seasons, and with D.J. Newbill returning and 2011-12's do-everything star Tim Frazier back from a season-ending Achilles tear, the Nittany Lions should improve along with it. It might be unfair to La Salle to keep them off that top line; the Explorers could still be a very dangerous team even without senior guard Ramon Galloway. The Barclays Center Classic offers a game against St. John's and a matchup with either Georgia Tech or Ole Miss, and putting a trip to Pittsburgh on the schedule doesn't only help coach Pat Chambers build his program's brand in a local recruiting zone, it also gives the Nittany Lions a real-deal road game against one of the nation's most consistent (and consistently RPI-friendly) programs.


Toughest: Old Spice Classic (Nov. 28-Dec. 1)
Next toughest: Boston College (Dec. 4), vs. Butler (Dec. 14 in Indianapolis), at West Virginia (Dec. 22)
The rest: Northern Kentucky (Nov. 8), Central Connecticut State (Nov. 13), Rider (Nov. 17), Eastern Illinois (Nov. 20), Siena (Nov. 24), Eastern Michigan (Dec. 7), Maryland Eastern Shore (Dec. 17)

Toughness scale: 5 -- The Boilermakers have one of those schedules that doesn't necessarily look great from this vantage point, but stands a reasonable chance of looking tougher and tougher as the season rolls on. How so? For starters, there's at least one really good game here -- the first-round Old Spice matchup with Oklahoma State and star point guard Marcus Smart. But a trip to West Virginia is never easy, and it's hard to imagine Bob Huggins' team repeating last season's monumental struggles. Boston College is a fringe ACC sleeper. And if Butler is better than most expect -- the Boilermakers could play the Bulldogs twice, if the two teams meet at the Old Spice in Orlando -- Matt Painter's team could benefit from a slate that proves better than the sum of its parts.


Toughest: Florida (Nov. 12), at Virginia (Dec. 4), Marquette (Dec. 7)
Next toughest: Cancun Challenge (Nov. 26-27), vs. St. John's (Nov. 8 in Sioux Falls, S.D.)
The rest: at Green Bay (Nov. 16), North Dakota (Nov. 19), Bowling Green (Nov. 21), Oral Roberts (Nov. 23), Milwaukee (Dec. 11), Eastern Kentucky (Dec. 14), Prairie View A&M (Dec. 28)

Toughness scale: 9 -- The Badgers' schedule is tough enough in the abstract. It's even tougher when you consider how quickly Bo Ryan will throw his team into the fire. The geographically baffling season opener against St. John's in Sioux Falls is one thing, but that game is followed by a visit from Florida just four days later. In late November, the Badgers will be the likely favorite in the two-game Cancun Challenge, but will have to get by both Saint Louis and (probably) West Virginia to come away with two wins. Then it's off to Charlottesville for a revenge game against Virginia, just three days before Marquette comes to the Kohl Center for another edition of Wisconsin's best basketball rivalry. Merely listing these games out doesn't quite do the schedule justice. You need to see the chronology to get the full, brutal picture.

Correction: An earlier version of this post substituted Temple coach Fran Dunphy for Iowa coach Fran McCaffery. It also neglected to list Michigan State's Feb. 1 game vs. Georgetown in Madison Square Garden, which is a pretty awesome game. Eamonn regrets the errors, and is now atoning via self-flagellation.

Times/networks for Big Ten/ACC Challenge

August, 15, 2013
The times and networks have been finalized for the 15th annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge, which will take place Dec. 3-4 on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU.

All 12 Big Ten teams and 12 of the 15 ACC schools will participate in the 2013 Challenge, including the three newest ACC members (Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Syracuse). Clemson, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest will not play in this year's event.

The ACC and Big Ten split last year’s Challenge with six wins each. In the event of a tie, the Commissioner’s Cup remains with the conference that won the previous year, which was the Big Ten in 2011. The ACC holds a 10-3-1 Challenge record, winning the first 10 events (1999-2008) before the Big Ten won the next three (2009-2011).

For an analysis of this year's matchups, check out Eamonn Brennan's take from back in May. As for the times and networks, here they are ...

Tuesday, Dec. 3 (all times ET)
7:15 - Indiana at Syracuse (ESPN)
7:15 - Illinois at Georgia Tech (ESPN2)
7:30 - Penn State at Pittsburgh (ESPNU)
9:15 - Michigan at Duke (ESPN)
9:15 - Notre Dame at Iowa (ESPN2)
9:30 - Florida State at Minnesota (ESPNU)

Wednesday, Dec. 4 (all times ET)
7:00 - Maryland at Ohio State (ESPN or ESPN2)
7:00 - Wisconsin at Virginia (ESPN or ESPN2)
7:30 - Northwestern at NC State (ESPNU)
9:00 - North Carolina at Michigan State (ESPN)
9:00 - Boston College at Purdue (ESPN2)
9:30 - Miami at Nebraska (ESPNU)

A few notes on this year's matchups:
  • Seven of the 12 games will mark first-time Challenge matchups: Michigan-Duke, Maryland-Ohio State, Miami-Nebraska and Boston College-Purdue, plus the debut of the three new ACC members Syracuse (vs. Indiana), Notre Dame (at Iowa) and Pitt (vs. Penn State).
  • In addition to first-time Challenge games, several of the teams are infrequent opponents: Nebraska holds a 3-1 record against Miami; Purdue won both previous meetings against BC; Ohio State and Maryland last played in 1985 with OSU three out of the five all-time games; and Notre Dame will play Iowa for the first time since 1990 and holds a 8-5 series record.
  • Old Pennsylvania rivals Pitt and Penn State will meet for the first time since 2005. The Panthers have won the past five contests.
  • Illinois/Georgia Tech and Wisconsin/Virginia will follow their first-time Challenge meetings in 2012 with a rematch in the 2013 event. The Illini and Cavaliers won last year's matchups.
  • Best Three Out of Five: North Carolina/Michigan State and Minnesota/Florida State will meet in the Challenge for the fifth time. Both series are 2-2.
  • Rubber Match: Northwestern and NC State will square off in the Challenge for the third time. Northwestern won in 2009 and NC State in 2002.
  • Syracuse and Indiana have met five previous times in non-Challenge games, with the Orange winning the past four, including last season’s Sweet 16 matchup.
In May of 2012, fresh off his first national title and facing no small amount of anger over the dissolution of the Indiana-Kentucky series, John Calipari took to his personal website to announce not only his scheduling plans but the realpolitik underpinning them.

The IU-UK series, a hated border rivalry waged for much of the past century on both campuses and neutral courts, was dying. Indiana wanted to play on campus; Kentucky wanted to play on neutral floors. In his blog post, Calipari indirectly explained why: "When we schedule, I want to create experiences," he wrote. "Not just games."

Coach Cal went on to describe the various steps his Wildcats would take to do just that: This season's men's/women's Cowboys Stadium doubleheader vs. Baylor; negotiations for a traveling annual series against Duke; a preference for the higher-profile North Carolina series over the obvious border rivalry. Convincing and well-argued though it was, plenty of folks bristled at the strategy. For fans, at least, when the choice is between awesome, organic home environments and sterilized NFL-owned football stadiums, well, is there really a choice at all? Can we at least nod at the former before subsuming it into the latter? Like it or not, Calipari, per the usual, seemed to be on the vanguard of a new, ever more brand-obsessed reality. "Events" were paramount, and if another program -- even a program like Indiana -- didn't want to get on board, well, too bad. Kentucky, like Duke, could schedule who it wanted, when it wanted.

All of which is a preamble to this: On Monday, Purdue's athletics website announced that the Crossroads Classic -- an annual nonconference meeting of Indiana, Butler, Purdue and Notre Dame in Indianapolis -- would continue (at least) through 2016:
The highly successful Crossroads Classic will continue through 2016, the athletics directors at the four participating schools announced today. One of college basketball's premier non-conference events will continue to be played at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The additional dates and matchups are Dec. 19, 2015 (Purdue vs. Butler and Notre Dame vs. Indiana) and Dec. 17, 2016 (Purdue vs. Notre Dame and Butler vs. Indiana). Purdue will serve as the host school in 2015, with Indiana doing so in 2016.

Usually, a reporter's first reaction to a press release that leads with "The highly successful ..." is an unmitigated eye roll. In this case, that would be incorrect.

By any measure, the Crossroads Classic -- announced in 2010 by the athletic directors of the four participating schools, and first renewed in May 2012 -- has indeed been highly successful. Almost 19,000 fans comprising all four schools have packed Bankers Life Fieldhouse in each of the first two events. Administrators and program staffers have publicly and privately raved about the ease of behind-the-scenes negotiations and logistics. Unlike most nonconference events, no third party organization is in charge of hosting the event; the four schools teamed up to handle the logistics -- and rake their respectively tidy paydays -- themselves. (Coincidentally, tournament coordination by these four natural rivals was eased by casual circumstance: Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke and Indiana AD Fred Glass both grew up in the same Northwest Indianapolis neighborhood, and both attended Brebeuf Jesuit prep school, and Glass and Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick once worked together as attorneys at Indy law firm Baker & Daniels.) Oh, and the basketball was good, too -- particularly in the 2012 edition, when Butler walk-on Alex Barlow sank then-No. 1 Indiana in overtime.

More than anything, though, the Crossroads Classic is a promising way forward. Make no mistake about it: It is a capital-E Event. But unlike many such events, it has genuine roots beyond your cable box (the old Hoosier Classic ran from 1948 to 1951 and 1957 to 1960) and is waged in a genuine basketball arena, not a cavernous football edifice. It draws on what defines the state's relationship with basketball -- communal obsession, the sporting event as a public gathering, hoops memories as cultural shorthand -- and updates it with a modern sheen. When Indiana fans show up on the Jumbotron, everyone else boos. It is the perfect blend of the modern form with the generational investment that makes college basketball so great in the first place.

There's nothing wrong with events in and of themselves, obviously. (I bet that Kentucky-Baylor game is going to be really fun.) But if events are where the sport's elite are indeed going, let's hope the Crossroads Classic truly is a replicable model for the future -- something that provides brand equity, sure, but also something with stakes beyond "gee, that stadium sure is big!"

Losing rivalries and classic home gyms in November and December isn't preferable, but if the brave new "Classic" future is inevitable, perhaps our best hope is that it winds up more Crossroads than Carrier.
The Big Ten ranks last among the six power conferences in active NBA players (25) and first-round NBA draft picks (28) since 2000 -- the last year a Big Ten team won an NCAA title.

Still, a large chunk of Big Ten standouts who have entered the professional ranks have fared quite well.

Here’s a look at the 10 Big Ten products who have enjoyed the most successful pro careers since 1989, the year the NBA draft was whittled down to two rounds.

[+] EnlargeChris Webber
US PresswireEx-Michigan star Chris Webber used his power around the rim to average over 20 points per game in his 14-year NBA career.
1. Chris Webber, Michigan: Webber played 14 full seasons in the NBA and averaged more than 17 points in all but one of them. For his career, he averaged 20.7 points and 9.8 rebounds per contest, earning first-team All-NBA honors after scoring 27.1 points and grabbing 11.1 rebounds in 2000-01. Webber, who led Michigan to the NCAA title game in 1992 and 1993, was selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1993 NBA draft and went on to earn NBA Rookie of the Year honors. A five-time All-Star, Webber retired in 2008.

2. Deron Williams, Illinois: Currently one of the NBA’s top point guards, Williams has averaged a double-double in four of his seven NBA seasons and boasts career marks of 17.8 points and nine assists per contest. His numbers are even more impressive in the postseason, when he has stepped up to average 21 points and 9.4 assists in 51 playoff games with Utah and Brooklyn. Williams has been on three All-Star squads and was named second-team all-league in 2008 and 2010. He also was a member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic squad that won a gold medal.

3. Zach Randolph, Michigan State: With career averages of 17.2 points and 9.3 rebounds, Randolph is currently one of the top power forwards in the NBA. This season, he led Memphis to the Western Conference finals for the first time in franchise history. Randolph was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player in 2004 and was named third-team All-NBA in 2011. Randolph has averaged a double-double in seven of his 11 NBA seasons, and he’s averaged more than 20 points five times. In his one season at Michigan State in 2000-01, Randolph led the Spartans to the Final Four.

4. Glenn Robinson, Purdue: In his junior year at Purdue, “The Big Dog” averaged 30.3 points and 11.2 rebounds, making him the first Big Ten player since 1978 to lead the league in both categories. The No. 1 pick in the 1994 NBA draft averaged 20.7 points and 6.1 rebounds in 11 NBA seasons. He made the All-Star team in 2000 and 2001 and made four playoff appearances with Milwaukee (three times) and San Antonio (once). Robinson’s best year came in 1997-98 when he averaged 23.4 points for the Bucks. He played his last NBA game in 2005.

5. Glen Rice, Michigan: By the time he retired in 2004, Rice had played 846 games for six teams in 15 NBA seasons. The forward averaged 18.9 points during that span and shot 85 percent from the foul stripe. The fourth overall pick in the 1989 draft played in three All-Star games and earned the game's MVP honors in 1997 -- the same year that he was named second-team All-NBA. That was also the year Rice averaged a career-high 26.8 points. Known for his long-range prowess, Rice was a 40 percent career 3-point shooter.

6. Michael Redd, Ohio State: After proving himself against top players such as Ray Allen and Glenn Robinson in practice, Redd became a star for the Milwaukee Bucks. He averaged more than 21 points for six straight seasons (2003-2009) and was a third-team all-league selection in 2004. Redd also was a member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic team. He’s currently the NBA record holder for 3-pointers made in one quarter (eight). Redd averaged 19 points in 12 NBA seasons.

7. Juwan Howard, Michigan: Howard has had the longest career of any member of “The Fab Five.” He’s played in 1,257 games in 18 NBA seasons and boasts career averages of 13.4 points and 6.1 rebounds. Howard’s best season came in 1995-96 when he averaged 22.2 points and 8.1 boards. Following that season, he was named third-team All-NBA. Last season, as a seldom-used reserve, he earned an NBA title as a member of the Miami Heat.

8. Jason Richardson, Michigan State: The current Philadelphia 76er has posted a double-digit scoring average in each of his 12 NBA seasons. His best year came in 2005-06 when he scored 23.2 points a game for Golden State. Richardson is averaging 17.3 points for his career and 17.1 points in the playoffs. Known as one of the NBA’s top high-flyers, Richardson won the NBA Slam Dunk title in 2002 and 2003. Richardson was the fifth overall pick in the 2001 NBA draft.

9. Michael Finley, Wisconsin: A small forward, Finley averaged 15.7 points during his 15 NBA seasons. Nine of those were spent with the Dallas Mavericks, including his best season in 1999-2000 when posted career highs in both scoring (22.6) and rebounding (6.3). Finley was selected to the NBA All-Star team in 2000 and 2001, and he won an NBA title in 2007 as a member of the San Antonio Spurs. He averaged 11.2 points in the playoffs that season. Finley retired in 2010.

10. Steve Smith, Michigan State: The standout guard averaged 14.3 points in 14 NBA seasons, including 20.1 points in both 1996-97 and 1997-98. He was strong in the postseason, where he averaged 14.9 points in 90 games. Smith played in the 1998 All-Star game and was a member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic team. He won an NBA title with the Spurs in 2003, though he received little playing time that season. He is one of just three players in league history to drain seven 3-pointers in a single quarter.

Ten more notables: All of these players have excelled in the NBA, including a few who almost cracked the top 10 and/or could be there soon (names in alphabetical order).

Nick Anderson, Illinois
Mike Conley, Ohio State
Jamal Crawford, Michigan
Ricky Davis, Iowa
Kendall Gill, Illinois
Eric Gordon, Indiana
Devin Harris, Wisconsin
Jim Jackson, Ohio State
Brad Miller, Purdue
Jalen Rose, Michigan

Too soon to tell: These guys haven’t been in the league long enough to make the top 10, but all appear to have bright futures (names in alphabetical order).

Draymond Green, Michigan State
Meyers Leonard, Illinois
E’Twaun Moore, Purdue
Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
Evan Turner, Ohio State

*Note: Of the 25 names on these lists, five are from Michigan, five are from Ohio State, four are from Illinois, four are from Michigan State, three are from Purdue and two are from Wisconsin. Indiana and Iowa boast one player each.
The case of Purdue forward Sandi Marcius is hardly cut and dry.

Here's the deal: After Purdue's season ended this spring, Marcius asked Purdue coach Matt Painter for his release from the program so he could seek a post-graduate transfer -- and play somewhere else right away -- after he finished his undergradate requirements this summer. Painter reportedly told Marcius to think about it and come back after the Final Four, when they could discuss further. Then, Marcius didn't attend Purdue's season-ending banquet, and a day later Purdue released the news with a none-too-pleased quote from the head coach:
“We have invested four years and significant resources into helping Sandi develop from both an educational and athletic standpoint,” Painter said. “Certainly, having Sandi here for a fifth year was in our plans and we anticipated him having a great final year in our program.”

Now things are getting even hairier: The Journal and Courier's Jeff Washburn confirmed Tuesday that because Marcius has announced his plans to transfer, the school is not on the hook for the costs of his summer school, which he needs to be able to transfer in the first place, and will not be paying those costs. With tuition, fees, room and board, and books, the costs for Marcius to finish up with school will be about $7,000, which is a sizable chunk of change. That has put him in the middle of a rather interesting dynamic, which Washburn described on his blog:
If Marcius planned to return to Purdue for the 2013-2014, as he said in March was his plan, I’m sure the athletic department, which pays for all scholarships without state assistance, would gladly come up with the $7,000 tuition and fees costs.

But those Purdue fans on message boards and Twitter on Monday, especially those who belong to the John Purdue Club and whose donations fund scholarships, are up in arms, saying that if Marcius isn’t going to be a Boilermaker next season, there is no way they want a single JPC penny paying for his summer school.

I tend to find fans to be far too bloodless when it comes to the way their rosters are constructed in a way that is often at odds with the things -- real student-athletes, four-year citizens, respectable members of the community, etc. -- those fans say they want from their favorite basketball program. In the end, fans really want to win, and they are willing to accept all manner of cold calculus to do so. (Sometimes I think fans care less about their program cheating because it's "wrong" than because it can end up being counterproductive and damaging in the long-term. Maybe I'm too cynical.) These desires don't often match the rhetoric. Such is the nature of modern college sports.

Point is, this is the kind of situation where you might expect me to get on my high horse about helping Marcius finishing his education and how many marginal dollars Purdue has made from the "significant resources" it has lavished on the Croatian since he arrived in West Lafayette, and so on. But in this case it's kind of hard to fault Painter or his athletic director, Morgan Burke. The deal is pretty simple: If you play here, we pay for your school. If you're leaving the team, we no longer pay for your school. Purdue isn't preventing Marcius from transferring, or holding him hostage via his release; they're simply saying they're not going to subsidize his last summer on campus before he leaves to play somewhere else.

He can take out a loan. Student loans are rough, but there are plenty of college grads (ahem) who would be thrilled to owe just $7,000 when they got their diploma. (Likewise, John Infante noodles the possibility of another school picking up the bill here. Update: John later explained via Twitter that Marcius that getting a loan may be more difficult than I originally thought: "For practical purposes, he cannot get a loan. Not eligible for any federal loan, needs US co-signer on a private loan.") Anyway, it's easy to be reflexive about a player vs. program dispute, but even if borne of some anger or even spite, Purdue's decision seems relatively fair to me.

An aside: One of the most difficult things about the oversigning argument in college basketball is the sheer number of transfers we see each season. When you have so many players moving to and fro, it's a lot harder to gin up outrage (if outrage is even deserved in the first place; I think it is) over a coach making promises to players and their families he can't, by the sheer force of arithmetic, keep. Someone will leave, right? And if someone leaves, how do we tease out the reasons? Was he pushed out? Was a living room promise broken? Or is he just another of the hundreds of unsatisfied players seeking greener pastures? How do we know?

Marcius' case is a bit more clear-cut, and has little to do with oversigning, but it highlights the same underlying issues: What do schools owe players? What do players owe schools? These are the fundamental questions the amatuerists must answer in the coming years, on a vast array of rhetorical fronts. It doesn't seem to be getting any easier.

Video: Michigan 80, Purdue 75

March, 6, 2013

Trey Burke scored 26 points for No. 7 Michigan, which trailed host Purdue by 12 points in the second half before scratching out an 80-75 victory.

Video: Indiana 83, Purdue 55

February, 16, 2013

Will Sheehey was a perfect 9-for-9 from the field in No. 1 Indiana's 83-55 win over Purdue.

3-point shot: Kentucky's seeding slides

February, 15, 2013
1. Kentucky's NCAA tournament fate is probably closely related to what happened to Purdue in 2010, when the Boilermakers were headed toward a No. 1 seed before Robbie Hummel tore his anterior cruciate ligament in a late-February game at Minnesota. The Boilermakers ended up dropping to a No. 4 seed. Kentucky isn't that high, but the seeding, more than an actual selection, is probably going to take the biggest hit following Nerlens Noel's season-ending knee injury. Selection committee chair Mike Bobinski said earlier in the week that there was still plenty of time to evaluate the Wildcats. He also said you can't eliminate what Kentucky has done, either, since the committee looks at the body of work. The Wildcats still have a victory at Ole Miss that isn't going to go away. They can make this all moot with a strong finish in their remaining seven regular-season games, including visits from Missouri and Florida. This has been John Calipari's most challenging season at Kentucky and now it will test him even more.

2. Connecticut's Kevin Ollie should be the Big East coach of the year. But the national honor is likely going to Miami's Jim Larranaga, barring a late-season collapse. The Hurricanes started unranked and are headed for a No. 1 seed-type season -- the hoops version of what Notre Dame did in college football in going from unranked to the national title game. Wisconsin's Bo Ryan would have to be in the conversation as well, as should Indiana's Tom Crean. The freshman-of-the-year chase has to be one of the most competitive, featuring Kansas' Ben McLemore, Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart, UNLV's Anthony Bennett and Arizona State's Jahii Carson, among others.

3. Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon made a great point Thursday about low scoring in college basketball. Dixon said that teams attempting more 3-pointers has led to more zone defenses and using up more of the shot clock. Of course, he added that teams are defending better and more fouls aren't being called. There are a lot of theories out there about low scoring, but perhaps the most important might be the lack of some fundamental shooting.

Ten thoughts from the road on the Big Ten

February, 12, 2013
For the first three months of the season, I admired the Big Ten from afar.

Michigan’s Trey Burke was impressive on television. The environment at Indiana’s Assembly Hall seemed spectacular. The battles between schools such as Ohio State, Michigan State and Illinois -- and, of course, the Wolverines and Hoosiers -- looked intense.

Embarrassed as I am to admit it, I don’t think I truly appreciated the Big Ten -- at least not as much as I should have.

Then came last week.

A three-game road trip through the heart of Big Ten country made me realize how special this conference is in 2012-13. The talent level is up, the fervor and emotion on the court and in the stands is unparalleled, and the parity is at an all-time high. Coaches every season say there are no easy games in conference play, but in this year’s Big Ten, it’s actually true.

In some ways I felt as if I was witnessing history as I watched games in Bloomington, Ann Arbor and East Lansing. As Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said, the Big Ten has never been this good. And it may never be again.

Here are a few other thoughts that stuck during last week’s roadie:

1. I can’t imagine someone from a non-Big Ten school winning the Wooden Award. Burke, the outstanding Michigan point guard, and Indiana’s Victor Oladipo are the leading candidates, and it’s probably going to take a mammoth February for someone such as Creighton’s Doug McDermott or Duke’s Mason Plumlee to catapult into the top spot.

[+] EnlargeTrey Burke and Victor Oladipo
Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports It's shaping up to be a two-horse race between Indiana's Victor Oladipo and Michigan's Trey Burke for the Wooden Award.
Burke is averaging 18.2 points and 7.1 assists per game, but it’s the command he has on the court and his play in big moments that impresses me the most. This is his team. I loved Burke’s resiliency during a back-and-forth battle with Ohio State point guard Aaron Craft. Moments after Craft stole the ball from Burke during the waning seconds of regulation, Burke sprinted down the court and stripped the ball from Craft just as he was attempting a layup that would have won the game. Then he came up with another big play when he blocked Craft’s midrange jumper with nine ticks remaining.

Oladipo might be the top perimeter defender in the country. It’s tough to truly appreciate his energy, effort and relentlessness until you see him in person. He never takes a play off, which is probably why he is averaging 5.8 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 2.5 assists to go along with his 14.3 points a game. The cherry on top of Oladipo’s statistic sundae is that he is shooting 64.5 percent from the field. I also love his temperament on the court. Never too high or too low.

2. The only problem with Burke’s great season is that it’s overshadowing an outstanding effort by Michigan’s Tim Hardaway Jr. The son of the former NBA guard is averaging 16 points on the season and 19.7 points in his past three games. “We couldn’t dial up plays for him fast enough,” Michigan coach John Beilein said after Hardaway Jr. scored 23 points against Ohio State. Hardaway Jr. has made 10 of his last 17 3-point attempts, including one that would have given Michigan a win in Saturday’s game at Wisconsin if not for Ben Brust’s desperation heave at the buzzer that forced overtime.

3. The best coaches are never satisfied no matter what their record is or the outcome of a game. I was reminded of this about a half hour after Michigan State’s 61-50 win over a solid Minnesota squad in East Lansing on Wednesday, when Tom Izzo spent most of his postgame news conference lamenting all that is wrong with the Spartans, who had just improved to 19-4.

Branden Dawson isn’t playing with energy, the team lacks chemistry, guys are banged up. On and on Izzo went.

“I’ve been 19-4 three or four times in my career,” Izzo said. “I don’t mean for it to sound as down as it is. This is no doubt the toughest the Big Ten has ever been.

“Tonight was a big win for us, and I’m going to take it as a big win. But I’m not going to be one for fool’s gold. They’ve got to get better, and they will get better.”

That, folks, is why Izzo is a perennial Final Four contender and a future Hall of Famer.

4. If you forced me to choose, I would pick Indiana as the Big Ten’s top team right now. But the one weakness the Hoosiers have is their bench. Yes, I realize it’s not a huge weakness. If it were, Indiana wouldn’t be 21-3 overall and 9-2 in conference play. Still, Indiana needs to get more production from its reserves, who averaged just 6.5 points in victories over Michigan and Ohio State. Will Sheehey scored 13 points off the bench in Thursday’s loss at Illinois.

5. I was surprised Ohio State didn’t put up a better fight in Sunday’s 81-68 home loss to Indiana. After watching the Buckeyes against Michigan five days earlier, I was convinced Thad Matta’s squad had what it took to win the league title. The chances of that happening now appear slim -- Ohio State is two games out of first place -- but that doesn’t mean this team can’t make a significant run in the NCAA tournament.

The Buckeyes have improved as much as any team in the league since the start of conference play. The biggest question around that time was whether Ohio State had much beyond veteran point guard Craft and scoring machine Deshaun Thomas.

Against Michigan, I watched LaQuinton Ross go off for 16 points before Lenzelle Smith Jr. hit a huge basket in the waning seconds of regulation that helped force overtime. Amir Williams and Sam Thompson combined for 16 points and six blocks while shooting a combined 6-for-7 from the field.

This is hardly a two-man team.

6. I’m not sure any conference rivals the Big Ten when it comes to home-court environments. I’ve been to nine of the 12 venues. Michigan’s is the fanciest (though Nebraska may have something to say about that a year from now), Indiana’s is the loudest and most intimidating (at least recently), and Purdue’s is the most underrated. I attended a rather "blah" game at Michigan State’s Breslin Center, so I may not have gotten a true feel for how rowdy things get there. I've never been to Iowa, Penn State or Illinois.

[+] EnlargeTubby Smith
AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhTubby Smith could be on the hot seat after his Golden Gophers have dropped six of their past eight.
7. Is Tubby Smith in trouble? The thought of Smith losing his job would have been tough to fathom a month ago when the Gophers were 15-1 and potential contenders for the league title. Minnesota, though, has lost six of its past eight games and is in danger of finishing conference play with a sub-.500 record. Minnesota has made just two NCAA tournaments in Smith’s five seasons, and the Gophers lost in the first round each time. A third straight first-round loss -- or missing the NCAA tournament altogether, which seems unlikely -- may lead Minnesota to make a change.

8. Nebraska is just 3-8 in the league and 12-12 overall, but it’s hard not to be impressed with the job first-year coach Tim Miles is doing in Lincoln. Miles took over a bad program that finished 12-18 a year ago and lost five of its top six scorers. He basically had nothing to work with, or so it seemed. Nebraska has lost by single digits to Ohio State and Wisconsin and was still in the game against Michigan and Michigan State with less than five minutes remaining. Nebraska’s new basketball arena will be among the country’s best when it opens next season. If Miles can sign a few good players, the Cornhuskers could be an upper-half Big Ten team within three years. Their fans will definitely fill the arena.

9. Purdue is 12-12 overall and 5-6 in conference play, but the Boilermakers won’t be down for long. When you lose players such as Robbie Hummel, E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson during a two-year stretch, you’ll almost always take a step back. Matt Painter is one of the top X’s and O’s coaches in the game, especially when it comes to defense, and Mackey Arena is a tough environment for any opponent. Look for the Boilermakers to be back in the Big Ten title hunt within a year or two.

10. I’m not sure fans in most Big Ten cities realize how good they have it when it comes to newspapers. I couldn’t have been more impressed with the space publications such as the Indianapolis Star and Detroit Free Press devoted to their coverage of Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State and the Big Ten in general. Multiple well-written stories before and after each game, insightful columns and quick-hit notebooks. They didn’t miss a thing. The first thing I did each morning was trudge down to the hotel lobby to purchase a paper, and that hasn’t happened in a while.

Where we draw the court-storm line

February, 12, 2013
There was a time in my college hoops writing career -- probably back when I was in college myself, actually -- where I took it upon myself, teller of hard truths, when and why college students could or could not rush the court following the end of a game.

I would rattle off all the silly little rules: No rushing if you're a historic blueblood, or the team you beat hails from a traditionally inferior program. No rushing if the team you beat isn't ranked. No rushing if your team is ranked. Essentially, I thought it was dumb to rush the court unless the result was a legitimately mind-blowing upset and/or the rush was totally spontaneous after a game-winning shot.

After a while, you realize telling college kids when they should and should not do something that involves them running, yelling, jumping around and mashing their bodies together in a mass of humanity is a losing proposition. Hey, college kids! Stop having fun! Yeah. That usually goes well.

All of which is a way of saying I don't get worked up about the proper court-storming etiquette anymore. If you want to debate the merits of decision-making in mobs of 20-year-olds, go for it, I guess? I have no interest in telling college students to do anything except "have fun."

Or so I thought.

In the midst of my nightly reading Monday, I came across the one projected instance of court-storming so ridiculous it actually caused me to break my one rule. It comes via the News-Gazette's Loren Tate, who, in responding to a Colin Cowherd rant on this topic Monday, actually asked whether it would be appropriate for Illinois fans to storm the court Wednesday if they beat -- wait for it -- Purdue. As in 12-12 Purdue.

Tate writes:
Colin Cowherd, one of my favorite ESPN voices, joins those who feel these mob scenes are getting out of hand. Speaking from his studio -- you might feel different if you were present, Colin -- he criticized the outburst after Notre Dame’s five-OT defeat of Louisville (near 1 a.m. in South Bend, that’s reason enough to celebrate). He also questioned the Illini eruption after upsetting Indiana on Thursday.
“It’s an admission the other team is better,” Cowherd said.
Well, does anyone truly doubt that the Hoosiers are better? And Purdue certainly has been. The Boilermakers have beaten Illinois eight straight, and another win would give them two nine-game streaks in the last 18 years. They aren’t very good this year (12-12) but they spanked Illinois 68-61 on Jan. 2 -- call it a New Year’s hangover -- and have a way of defending that the Illini have yet to master.

At the start of the riff, the always-excellent Tate asks rhetorically:
Question of the day: Is it appropriate for Illini fans to rush the Assembly Hall court if they beat Purdue on Wednesday night?

Let me answer concretely: no. This is me drawing a line. No.

No. No. No. No.

Now let us never speak of this again.

Video: Michigan State 78, Purdue 65

February, 9, 2013

Branden Dawson scored 20 points as No. 12 Michigan State moved a half-game clear of Indiana atop the Big Ten standings with a 78-65 victory at Purdue.

Video: Indiana 97, Purdue 60

January, 30, 2013

Ahead of a visit Saturday from top-ranked Michigan, No. 3 Indiana throttled Purdue 97-60 behind 19 points and 11 rebounds from Cody Zeller.