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What We Learned: No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers 92, No. 25 Michigan Wolverines 88

What can we takeaway from Thursday night’s game?

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

Just they had done in the first game, the undersized Michigan Wolverines took Purdue down to the wire. In a back-and-forth game, for awhile it looked like the fans at Mackey Arena could potentially get to watch some free basketball. However, a late 12-2 run by the Boilermakers pushed them ahead of the Wolverines for good.

The night was highlighted by a player on each team while with the win, Purdue may be entering a conversation that not many thought they would be in at this time of the year.

Let’s see what we can takeaway from Thursday night’s game between Michigan and Purdue.

What We Learned

Isaac Haas was a beast....so was MAAR

In a game filled with offense, two players (one from each team) stood out to keep their team within distance of the opponent. For Purdue Isaac Haas was an absolute beast inside the post while Mohammed Ali Abdur-Rahkman put in work shooting the ball for the Wolverines.

Haas was a mismatch for every Michigan player that tried to guard him. On numerous occasions, he set up so far under the basket that the only way the likes of Moe Wagner and John Teske could defend him was to foul him. The result was a 24 points on 10-14 shooting from the field, six rebounds, and four blocks. This is not the first time this season that Haas has put up these numbers but Thursday night was the most dominant Haas that college basketball has seen since he has arrived in West Lafayette.

If it was not for the sweet shooting of Abdur-Rahkman, Michigan would have not been able to be within five points with under a minute to play. His 26 points against the Boilermakers was a season high and he used his whole skill set to get them. Abdur-Rahkman did most of his damage from behind the arc making 6 of his 9 three-point attempts. He also succeeded driving into the paint despite going right into a seven foot tall blockade. He finished 10-15 from the field and was Michigan’s most consistent offensive player.

Michigan stayed in the game thanks to second chance baskets

A major reason Michigan was able to stay within shouting distance was there ability to limit Purdue on the boards. The Wolverines finished just four rebounds shy of matching Purdue’s 25 and nine of Michigan’s 21 rebounds came on the offensive glass. What was most impressive was the 19 second chance points that came off of them.

Numerous times in the first half and even late in the game, Michigan came up with an offensive rebound that led to a basket to put them in the lead or within a single possession. One of those moments came in the first half when the Wolverines took a four point lead. After a missed shot, Teske came up with a rebound, found Abdur-Rahkman in the corner for a three-pointer. That connection worked again with nine minutes remaining. Teske again came up with an offensive board and found Abdur-Rahkman for a three-pointer to give the Wolverines a 68-65 lead.

Against bigger teams in the conference and going forward, Michigan can continue to benefit off of performances like this on the offensive glass.

Is Purdue the best team in the country?

Watching the Boilermakers Thursday night, I don’t think I saw a glaring issue within their team. When they are shooting lights out the way Purdue has during their current 16 game winning streak, I don’t think there is a team that can beat them. Add a stronger Haas who has continued to improve and impress over the past couple weeks and they have a complete team.

With all of the pieces they have, it will be difficult for a team to knock them out of the tournament. There are not many players in the country who can guard Haas singlehandedly. However, if you try to double him, you risk the likes of Vince Edwards, Carsen Edwards, and Dakota Mathias beating you with the three-ball.

The one downside with Purdue at the moment is the lack of resume wins away from Mackey Arena. With no trip to Columbus, their best chance is on Feb. 10 when they travel to East Lansing to take on Michigan State. If the Boilermakers can come in and handle the Spartans, they may be cutting down the nets on April 1st.

Overall

Regardless of the loss Michigan once again proved that they can hang around with the big boys of college basketball. They are still in my eyes considered one of the four best teams in the conference and have the roster makeup to make a run in the NCAA Tournament. Getting a more consistent Abdur-Rahkman pared with Wagner was essential. This team will be dangerous come March.

Thursday was just another night for the Boilermakers. They did what they have done all season. They shot the lights out the arena, won the rebounding battle, got big production out of the forwards, and protected home court to extent the longest win streak in all of college basketball to 16 games. It is time to ask the question. Is Purdue the best team in college basketball?