In the Big Ten Tournament, the No. 4 Purdue Boilermakers will battle the No. 8 Michigan Wolverines in Bankers Life Fieldhouse at 1:00 PM ET on March 12, 2016.
Road To The Big Ten Tournament Final Four
The Wolverines (22-11) played the No. 9 Northwestern Wildcats on Thursday and came away with a 72-70 win on a last second 17-foot jumper off the hand of Zak Irvin. The victory over the Wildcats (20-12) allowed the Maize and Blue to advance to play the No. 1 Indiana Hoosiers, who were the outright Big Ten Conference championship.
The Hoosiers (25-7) and Wolverines played it close for the entire game and it went down to the final shot of the game. With Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman on the bench due to five fouls, Kameron Chatman got his chances and connected on a Big Ten Tournament record 12th assist from Derrick Walton Jr. The 6-foot-7 small forward fired a shot from the three-point line in the right corner and it fell as time expired to give the Wolverines the win, 72-69.
"I knew I was going to be in the corner and I told myself I was going to be ready to shoot it," Chatman, who was shooting 7-for-27 from deep (26 percent) coming into the game, said. "I hesitated just a little bit but then seeing how much time was on the clock and I let it go and it felt good when it left my hand. It was pretty good."
As for the Boilermakers (24-7), it was a much easier and less stressful road to the Big Ten Tournament Final Four. The No. 12 Illinois Fighting Illini beat the No. 13 Minnesota Golden Gophers and then picked up a huge 68-66 upset win against the No. 5 Iowa Hawkeyes to set up the matchup against Purdue on Friday. The Boilermakers ran away from the Fighting Illini (15-18) early with a high shooting percentage and left the gym victorious, 89-58.
"When you're in a tournament and playing back-to-back days, it's a struggle on your body. To be able to get a game like this and be able to get rest for all of our core guys, it's a good feeling," forward Vince Edwards said. "I feel like it will be an advantage for us."
Both parties played each other at home and split the seasons series.
On January 7, Purdue got 17 points from A.J. Hammons, while Rapheal Davis chipped in 16 points, six assists and five rebounds to lead the team to an 87-70 win over Michigan.
Just over a month later, on Feburary 13, the Wolverines got revenge at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor. The Maize and Blue scored the final 11 points of the game to knock Purdue, 61-56. In that game, Walton was 0-for-9 before scoring a layup to steal the momentum. Irvin hit a late triple and the Wolverines went up 57-56. The squad cashed in from the free throw line down the stretch to pull off the five points win.
Players To Watch
The Boilermakers are led by Hammons, who is averaging 14.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game. The senior center will team with Vince Edwards and Caleb Swanigan to produce most of the scoring on Saturday.
As for the Wolverines, the team will look to Irvin, Abdur-Rahkman and Duncan Robinson without superstar guard Caris LeVert or Spike Albrecht around for the rest of the season. Through 32 games, Robinson has went 88-for-190 (46 percent) from the three-point line to help himself produce 11.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. Irvin is right ahead of him with 11.6 points per game and Abdur-Rahkman has the ability to surprise many people against the Boilermakers.
No. 4 Purdue Boilermakers
G - Rapheal Davis
G - P.J. Thompson
F - Vince Edwards
F - Caleb Swanigan
C - A.J. Hammons
No. 8 Michigan Wolverines
G - Derrick Walton Jr.
G - Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman
F - Duncan Robinson
F - Zak Irvin
F - Mark Donnal