Three Keys For Michigan Against Purdue Tonight

Posted by Brendan Brody on January 7th, 2016

Michigan is one of five undefeated teams left in the early stages of Big Ten play, but the Wolverines will face their biggest test of the young conference season when they head to West Lafayette tonight to take on Purdue. The Boilermakers will be looking to bounce back from an upset home loss against Iowa where they had no answer for the Hawkeyes’ talented twosome of Jarrod Uthoff and Mike Gesell. Here are three keys for John Beilein‘s club to pull off what would be its best win of the season.

Michigan will need Marc Donnal to continue his stellar play against Purdue Thursday night. (Getty)

Michigan will need Marc Donnal to continue his stellar play against Purdue tonight. (Getty)

  1. Keep Feeding Marc Donnal: Things against Purdue’s elite front line almost assuredly won’t be as easy as they were for Marc Donnal in wins over Illinois and Penn State where the redshirt sophomore went for 21.0 PPG and 8.5 RPG on 72 percent shooting from the floor. That doesn’t mean that Michigan should abandon a working strategy to get the ball to Donnal for points in the paint. Michigan will have to make shots from the outside (10+ threes would be ideal) to win, but finding some balance against the best team in the country at defending two-point shots will be necessary. Donnal is the key to finding that offensive balance.
  2. Exploit “Other” Perimeter Matchups: It’s well-established by now that Purdue’s Raphael Davis is one the best wing defenders in the Big Ten, and that means that one of Michigan’s leading scorers is likely to have a tough night. Flipping that around, however, means that Purdue has its own limitations of which Michigan can take advantage. Caleb Swanigan is more than likely going to be chasing around a wing, but if Purdue goes small with Vince Edwards at the four, the Boilermakers will lose its advantages in the paint and on the boards. All of this strategy ultimately means that if Davis ends up guarding Michigan’s Caris LeVert, someone from the group of Zak Irvin, Duncan Robinson and Aubrey Dawkins will need to have a big game.
  3. Get Off to a Fast Start: Purdue has one of the best and most intimidating home courts at Mackey Arena in all of the Big Ten. Its fans will be at full throat from the tip, especially coming off a disappointing home loss to Iowa. If Michigan can come out steady and get an early lead, Purdue’s crowd and players may very well lose some confidence. On the other hand, if the Wolverines start slowly, it could get as ugly (see: Michigan’s blowout losses to Xavier and SMU earlier this season).
Brendan Brody (307 Posts)

Brendan Brody is in his fourth season covering the Big Ten for RTC. Email him at, or follow him on twitter @berndon4.

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