February 28, 2010
There's only one scenario in which Purdue gets a No. 1 seed now: Pray that members of the selection committee were so caught up in USA-Canada hockey on Sunday afternoon that they forgot the Boilers were even playing.
A gruesome 53-44 home loss to Michigan State only validated those who suggested Purdue's Final Four hopes vanished the second MRI results confirmed Robbie Hummel tore his ACL on Thursday night. Without the versatile 6-foot-8 Hummel, fellow stars E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson combined to shoot 7 of 27 from the floor as a result of increased defensive attention, the team managed just 16 second-half points and the Boilers got pounded on the glass 46-20.
If Purdue's loss darkened the spirits of Boilers fans hoping their notoriously tough team could survive the loss of its second-leading scorer and leading rebounder, it was cause for celebration elsewhere around the country.
ACC-leading Duke becomes the leading contender for the final vacant No. 1 seed, though Kansas State could overtake the Devils with a win at top-ranked Kansas on Wednesday night. And Ohio State vaults into first place in the Big Ten by a half game over Michigan State and Purdue, meaning the Buckeyes can win at least a share of the title with a win over Illinois in their season finale on Tuesday.
Ohio State star Evan Turner, who shared his thoughts on twitter throughout the Purdue-Michigan State game, left no doubt who he was rooting for with this tweet at the final buzzer: "YESSIRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR"
Although the Michigan State game was Purdue's only remaining regular-season chance to prove to the committee that it still deserves a high seed, all is not completely lost for the Boilers.
If they win their next two games against Big Ten bottom-feeders Indiana and Penn State, they can claim at least a share of the conference title. And then in the Big Ten tournament, Purdue will get another chance at taking down an elite opponent and gaining further credibility in the eyes of the selection committee.
All that glass-half-full talk seemed to be lost on a frowning Hummel when the CBS cameras panned to the junior forward standing on the sideline on crutches immediately after the final buzzer.He knows what we all know. This Purdue team is not the same without him.