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Interview with a Boilermaker: Purdue Q&A

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We talk to T-Mill from Hammer & Rails about the one team in the B1G that is more volatile than the Badgers.

NCAA Basketball: Wisconsin at Purdue Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The last time the Wisconsin Badgers (15-10 overall, 8-6 B1G) faced off with the Purdue Boilermakers (14-12 overall, 7-8 B1G) UW got their ass waxed on the boards and the scoreboard in a 70-51 loss.

Since then, Purdue has gone 3-3 while appearing to be a completely different team from game to game. A trend that Wisconsin fans can appreciate having watched their Jekyll and Hyde team all season.

Wisconsin is going to be making a push for a top-four finish in the conference and have a favorable schedule remaining in which to make said push. It all starts, though, with winning at home against Purdue. Travis Miller of Hammer and Rails was kind enough to answer our questions about how the Boilers have been doing since our paths last crossed.

1) Since the Boilers demolished the Badgers at Mackey back on January 24th how was the season gone for Purdue?

Well it pretty much goes game-to-game and maybe minute by minute. A slow start at Rutgers led to a loss, then we needed a furious late 11-0 run to beat Northwestern by three in Evanston. A blowout of Iowa at home and a double-digit win on Bobby Knight day in Bloomington had us feeling great. Then Penn State bombed us from three on Tuesday in Mackey and Purdue looked mostly disinterested against Ohio State.

Purdue followed its best week of the season (the wins over Iowa and Indiana) with its worst, and I have no earthly idea what to think or expect anymore. We hit 19 threes against Iowa, scored 61 first half points, and had 104 overall. Then we couldn’t hit anything six days later against Penn State on the same floor. Your guess is as good as mine with this team. They can look so good against really good competition, then look flat out awful.

Per ESPN we have the largest game-to-game variance in adjusted efficiency in the country by a wide margin. We can win by 25 or lose by 25 to pretty much anyone. We lost by double digits to Nebraska for crying out loud, but I could see us play Baylor in Mackey and beating them by 15.

2) In the previous meeting, Purdue had as many offensive rebounds as Wisconsin had total rebounds. Is Purdue still crashing the boards with vigor and reckless abandon?

We certainly did not against Ohio State. We had seven offensive rebounds and got outrebounded by seven overall. Penn State outrebounded us by one, but there were not many rebounds to get when they were 14-of-26 from three. At least Trevion Williams continues to play well on the glass.

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Indiana Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

3) On that note, is there a way to box out Trevion Williams? Imo he should have to try and rebound the ball in a pit of quicksand, but the B1G has blocked my email address so this probably won’t happen.

Even Tre struggled at Ohio State, scoring only four points and grabbing eight rebounds. When he came to Purdue he wanted to replicate Caleb Swanigan’s play and he has been a decent imitation this year. I can see him being an automatic double-double next season.

4) Why doesn’t Matt Haarms play more minutes? He’s listed as only playing 47.6% of the team’s total minutes on KenPom. So, does he have conditioning problems? Matchup problems? Foul problems?

Haarms has been banged up this year, and I think it is a factor. He suffered a concussion before the season and another one when he hit his head on the floor at Nebraska in December. He also had a nasty hip flexor in January. I really don’t think he is playing at 100% right now, nor has he for weeks.

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at Purdue Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

He is giving it a game effort, however. There is no question we could use more of him, but I really think he is limited and won’t be 100% until next year.

5) Who do you have winning round two? Will Purdue win the rebounding battle by more than 10? Who is the leading scorer for the Boilermakers on Tuesday?

I have no idea. It really depends on which Purdue shows up. Purdue couldn’t shoot for about three quarters of the game against Penn State and fell behind by 23 at home, which NEVER happens in Mackey. Against Ohio State, the Buckeyes tried to give us momentum time and again, but we were not interested. The effort was clearly not there on Saturday.

That said, Matt Painter’s teams have mostly played well in Madison (I had the 2018 game digitally erased from my brain), so we have a shot, but again, your guess is as good as mine. I cannot figure this team out because they are maddeningly inconsistent. The good news is that we usually know pretty early if good Purdue or bad Purdue shows up. Good Purdue hits a few early threes, answers every run, and builds on its lead like at Indiana. it plays with confidence and everyone contributes almost equally with nine guys being a threat to score. Bad Purdue is throwing up bricks, turning the ball over, and gets worked on the glass.

I can see us winning easily by 10-15 points like in Mackey or losing by 20+. I just do not know anymore. I am so frustrated with this team and its lack of consistency I am ready for the season to be done. That said, we’ll probably slide into the NCAAs as a 10-seed and then make an Elite 8 run or something.