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Continue to Improve

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Here we are in early January, and the Boilermakers are one game under .500 on the season. It will be a fight to finish above that mark this year, to be honest. There's no doubt in my mind that this team has improved. It's just too bad it wasn't able to win some of those close non-conference games, as those losses may negate a postseason opportunity.

Here's the good news: opportunities to improve continue to exist. The last time we visited, Purdue was faced with the daunting task of opening Big Ten play with three-straight ranked opponents. Beating Illinois was huge. It's imperative, though, that the Boilermakers beat teams on their schedule that they will match up with relatively equally.

On a good day for the Boilers, Michigan State is beatable at Mackey. The rest of the upper division of the league is going to be a huge challenge. You would hope that the rivalry with Indiana may spur a great moment, but the Hoosiers will be favored in both matchups.

If Purdue can string some wins together over the next week and a half, it could get to 10 wins soon, and you never know what can happen from there.

Talking of improvement, Purdue has really cut down on its turnovers, committing just six against Ohio State. Ronnie Johnson is settling in at the point, and A.J. Hammons is getting better at both ends of the floor. For the time being, I think this team is set at the point, the two (Terone Johnson) and center. The rest of the team is still battling some inconsistency.

A shout out to Sandi Marcius, who gave a strong performance the other night. I've been puzzled by his lack of contribution this year, but maybe the Ohio State game will be a turning point for him. Travis Carroll is an able center, but matchups like Derrick Nix, Amir Williams, Adreian Payne and others are tough for him. Marcius could help in that regard.

Looking at the Big Ten, I haven't seen enough to pick a winner. I will say that Minnesota has been the best team in the league, in my opinion. They went to Champaign and pounded the Illini. If I was to choose right now, I'd pick Minnesota, Michigan and Indiana as a top three. Purdue has five games left against those squads. Talk about a challenge.

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