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A change in complexion

Robbie Hummel left tonight's game against Minnesota with a right knee injury.  The way his knee bent on the play was pretty gruesome, and signs are pointing toward a season-ending injury.

First off, it's unfortunate that a Big Ten team may once again be losing a star player to a serious injury.  (Turner/Creek/Coble/Hummel/Leuer is one heck of an all-injury team; Kalin Lucas' ankle sprain doesn't even get him on the first team.)  Robbie Hummel's brand of 99.44% fundamentally-pure basketball is a joy to watch (if your team isn't playing against him), and Purdue has been looking like a legitimate Final Four contender over the last month.  All things being equal (i.e., assuming it doesn't hurt MSU), other teams in the league making deep NCAA Tournament runs is a good thing.

Of course, there's a pretty significant impact for Michigan State here.  If Hummel can't, in fact, play on Sunday, the game in West Lafayette starts to look plausibly winnable for the Spartans.  Hummel is the glue that holds Purdue together, particularly on offense.  He's a stabilizing force handling the ball in the half-court offense and creates a mismatch at the 4 spot with his ability to knock down the three.

But:

  • Purdue was still good enough to gut out the win vs. Minnesota, with Keaton Grant stepping up to knock down two key jumpers late.
  • The Boilermakers still have two legitimate big-time scorers who can put up 20+ points on any given night in JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore.
  • MSU hasn't beaten a Big Ten team with a (current) winning conference record in five and a half weeks now--and Mackey Arena will be a tough place to end that drought.

Further updates as events warrant . . .