I expect both games to be competitive and exciting, and wouldn't be surprised by an upset before the day is over. Regardless, I hope this event lasts for years.
Purdue needed some practice time, and received some this week, despite having to deal with finals. I write that with a smile, knowing finals come first and it's never easy to figure out a team after they've gone through it.
Here's what concerns me the most going forward. It's hard not to mention free throw percentage, but I'll get to that in a moment. My biggest concern is the health of Lewis Jackson. For Purdue to play at a high level, it needs Jackson to play at a high level.
When you go against elite competition, you need your senior point guard playing at his highest level. He'll give it everything he can, because few players in college basketball are tougher.
Naturally, Robbie Hummel has to hold up, as well. What he's done to this point is remarkable, but this team needs him to be very good almost every time out.
Now, on to free throw shooting. Yes, the team practices free throws every day. Yes, it's a major priority with the coaching staff.
How do you replicate shooting in front of sell-out crowds, especially on the road? Hard to do!
We know that, statistically, the problem centers around a small group of players. Terone Johnson, Anthony Johnson and Jacob Lawson get fouled a lot. All three are getting to the rim, and I'm sure teams are electing to make that group earn their points from the line.
Will they improve? I think so. It does make things difficult for the coaching staff at the end of games.
Go check the numbers. Good seasons are defined by road wins, and many of those games come down to late free throw shooting.
I know this: all those players are trying to improve.