Tonight's contest with Michigan St. has been on most fans' calendar since the beginning of the season.
We just didn't think it would be like this.
Sure Purdue is only two games back and can put themselves back near the driver's seat for both a Big Ten championship and #1 seed at the conference tournament. Sure they're sitting on 18 wins with a minimum of 7 games left. Sure they're currently projected as a 4 to 5 seed in the NCAA tournament with that cathartic Indiana game on the weekend horizon.
But it just doesn't feel right. Not right enough, yet.
Despite the two game winning streak including stellar defensive scoring efforts against Penn St. and Iowa, this doesn't feel like the team that went toe-to-toe with Oklahoma and dismantled Davidson.
The recent loss of Robbie Hummel has a load to do with both the lack of wins and lack of chemistry, but that isn't the whole story. I found myself asking Mrs. McLochness recently, "Doesn't it feel like Purdue is missing two players?" The disappearing acts of Calasan and Green have most fans on edge. The addition of Bobby Riddell's playing time has been an boost, but do we really want to be looking at Buckets for that spark off of the bench?
Here's what I do know. Purdue is a 3-point home dog, despite the debut of the new, lengthy unis. Michigan has won 16 of its last 18. The Spartans are averaging 5 more points again and a scary 5 more rebounds. Purdue has a statistical edge in blocks, steals, and turnovers, and that's where our fate lies tonight. If the Boilers want to pull off the definitive, message-sending victory it's going to take those big plays like blocks and steals to keep the crowd energy up unlike the malaise that descended on Mackey during the Duke game.
All this and Michigan St. is still as quick and explosive as ever.
This should be interesting.