By Paul M. Banks
When #14 Michigan State meets #3 Purdue on Sunday, it’ll have huge influence on who wins the Big Ten regular season title. But beyond that…who will eventually take Purdue’s #1 seed in the NCAA tourney now?
The Purdue Boilermakers are 12-3 in the Big Ten, a half-game ahead of Ohio State and a full game in front of the Michigan State Spartans, so Sunday’s clash in West Lafayatte between the two is already huge. But now we have the added storyline of Purdue playing their first game without their most important player- Robbie Hummel. And it will be the first of EVERY game they’ll play this season without him, as he is out for the season with a torn ACL.
When I asked Tom Izzo earlier this season, who Purdue’s most valuable player is, he told me “I think it’s Hummel. He’s really what makes them go.” And as I’ve pointed out numerous times before, Izzo is an all-knowing, all-seeing sage; whose status as an all powerful guru is never to be questioned- EVER!
Since Robbie Hummel is the Purdue engine, the Boilers are now like an airbone plane with an engine that failed and Coach Matt Painter is a pilot attempting to glide this craft back to land without crashing massively. What will they be without Hummel? Last year, when Hummel suffered more back problems than a 70 year old furniture mover, Robbie missed 4 games, and the Boilermakers went 1-3.
This will be sort of like Ohio State without Evan Turner. Times five.
The Boilermakers controlled their own destiny for a Big Ten regular-season title and a No. 1 seed in the big dance. But like Barack Obama said, “it’s not enough to just change the players, you have to change the game.” And Hummel’s loss actually changes a lot more than a player in the starting lineup, it changes the game on a national scale. Michigan State or Ohio State could grab the Boilers’ conference title.
…the Big East runner up? Why not? Syracuse is a “top line” team, and Pittsburgh or Villanova could play their way into joining them by running the table at the Big East tournament in a couple weeks.
…Duke? Well that would certainly please the Eastern Seaboard Programming Network; seeing Coach K.’s current bunch of star college players that will likely go un-drafted, or be NBA busts, grab another #1 seed. Dickie V.’s slurping of Jon Scheyer this season has been RIDICULOUS, even by Vitale covering a Duke game standards. But do they actually have enough down low to not stumble anywhere down the stretch?
…K-State? Seriously, you know that Kansas and Kentucky join the ‘Cuse as mortal locks for #1 seeds. And two #1 seeds coming from the same state? A state that’s not North Carolina, Indiana or Kentucky? Yes, the Kansas State Wildcats could indeed be the biggest benefactors from Purdue’s soul-crushing loss. If things play out their way of course.
…New Mexico? No, sorry but #1 seeds are reserved for high-major big boys onlyFollow paulmbanks