The 5th ranked Purdue Boilermakers came into Williams Arena this afternoon and dismantled a vulnerable Minnesota team. Purdue remained perfect in Big Ten play while cementing themselves as the best team in the conference. While it was a debatable topic heading into today’s games, there is now no doubt about it.
They took advantage of a completely despondent Gophers team on both ends of the floor. By game’s end, the Boilermakers had shot 47 percent from the field and 40 percent from the field. Compare that to Minnesota’s 28 percent clip from the field and an even worse 19 percent from three. It seems that a once promising Gophers team has thrown in the towel now. Their dispirited and deflating performances the past two games have only certified that opinion.
Here are some things we learned today:
What We Learned
1. For team’s defending the Boilermakers, it’s pick your poison
As an opposing defense, what can you do limit all of the offensive weapons Purdue has? You focus in on Carsen Edwards, and then Vincent Edwards beats you. Double down on Isaac Haas, and Dakota Mathias obliterates you off of kick-out threes. The fact is that is nearly impossible to stop all of these players at once. Even if you are so lucky to do so, a solid bench of Matt Haarms, Nojel Eastern, and Ryan Cline is there to back up the starters. They are just so complete offensively.
What we saw today is the result of not defending any of those players to an adequate degree. Minnesota’s defense is so porous without Reggie Lynch that they really are a shell of their former selves on that end. The outcome today was four Boilermakers scoring in double figures. Vincent Edwards was the player to take charge on offense with a game high 25 points and five rebounds. However, Haas and Carsen Edwards chipped in 14 a piece with Dakota Mathias putting in 12 as well.
That all-around offensive effort is what separates Purdue from every other team in the conference right now. It was seen so clearly today as they took advantage of a raggedy Gopher defense.
2. Purdue is by far the best team in the Big Ten
There was still some debate going on as to who the best team in the Big Ten was. It was either Purdue or Michigan State, who was also in action today. The Spartans were ranked higher in the national poll at the beginning of this week, but that is sure to change now. As we know, the Boilermakers took care of their opponent. However, Michigan State dropped a rivalry game to Michigan today by a score of 82-72.
That loss was the Spartans second in three games. So, their last week has seen them lose twice and barely beat Rutgers in overtime. Meanwhile, Purdue has not lost a game since November 23rd and beat the team the Spartans lost to, Michigan, earlier this week. All of that put together only begins to illustrate why the Boilermakers are the top team in this conference.
Sure, Michigan State has youth and talent whereas Purdue is more veteran oriented. Yet, Purdue is the more complete team every single night. Whether that has to do with the experience level of their players is a different debate. However, it has to play a part in their consistency.
Depending on the outcomes of other games today, we may see Purdue as high as number two in the national poll come Monday. We know now for sure that they are number one in the Big Ten “poll” right now too.
3. The Gophers we once knew are never coming back
I cannot seem to get Alice in Chains out of my head when I think about the current state of Minnesota. Just think about it, Alice in Chains was wildly successful in the 90s with their front man Layne Staley. He would grunt out the iconic songs of “Man In the Box”, “Rooster”, and “Would?” for the band. Just like the Gophers once gutted out solid wins over teams like Providence and Alabama.
In both instances, tragedy (or some type of hardship) struck. For Alice in Chains, it was the devastating death of Staley in 2002 due to a drug overdose. In fact, the band had not made an album since the Unplugged release in 1996. This was due in large part to Staley’s drug addiction. The band has carried on with new lead singer William DuVall, making two studio albums with him.
The Gophers hardship is the suspension of Reggie Lynch and the injury to Amir Coffey. Subsequent results have seen them lose two straight games with both players absent. Sure, Bakary Konate and Michael Hurt are decent players, but they are no Lynch and Coffey. Just like William DuVall cannot belt out “Nutshell” like Layne Staley could.
In both cases, the names remain the same, Alice in Chains is still Alice in Chains, and the Minnesota Gophers are still just that. However, there is an asterisk beside both current lineups, in my opinion.
This game was just a clear illustration of one team just being flat-out better than the other. There is really no other way to put it. Minnesota will attempt to soldier on with a game against Penn State on Monday. As for the Boilermakers, they will look to stay perfect in Big Ten play with Wisconsin coming to town on Tuesday.