In its first 20 games, the Michigan men’s basketball team has had blowout wins and blowout losses. It’s pulled a few hard-fought upsets and has fell victim to several underdogs.

But for all the different outcomes they’ve seen, the Wolverines still don’t have a road win.

In terms of the big picture, No. 20 Michigan (5-2 Big Ten, 15-5 overall) is doing fine. The team remains tied for first in the conference with Ohio State and Michigan State, and its RPI of 24 means that it shouldn’t have to worry about making the NCAA Tournament assuming the Wolverines don’t disappoint down the stretch.

Road wins, though, are a crucial factor in the tournament selection committee’s methodology. To be blunt, Michigan needs a road win — and soon.

The Wolverines nearly had one last Saturday at Arkansas. They climbed back from 20 points down and had a shot to win it at the buzzer, but freshman point guard Trey Burke’s step-back 3-pointer rimmed out, giving the Razorbacks a 66-64 win.

Michigan coach John Beilein said his team isn’t lacking in confidence, despite its road struggles.

“If anything, (the Arkansas loss) should give them confidence that you can have this bad of a game, as far as guys having horrendous shooting nights, but can still be within an inch of winning that game,” Beilein said. “Hopefully, it keeps them believing in themselves even more.”

With trips to Columbus and East Lansing looming in the next two weeks, a date at relatively weaker Purdue (4-3, 14-6) seems like the perfect opportunity for the Wolverines to snare their first road contest of the season.

Having topped Illinois at home and bested Minnesota in Minneapolis, the Boilermakers have a couple solid wins under their belt. But they’ve also been blown out by Michigan State and Penn State on the road, and their loss on Jan. 12 to Wisconsin ended their 26-game winning streak at home.

But Purdue remains a solid team. The bigger problem for Michigan is that Mackey Arena has been a house of horrors for the Wolverines in recent years. The Boilermakers have won the last six games played in West Lafayette — Michigan hasn’t won at Mackey since Feb. 19, 2003. The last time Beilein’s team tripped there was in 2010, when the Wolverines couldn’t overcome the ejection of Manny Harris and fell by 10 points.

“Down (in West Lafayette), it’s usually been a really good first half, but they just wear you down with their defense eventually,” Beilein said. “We’ve got to do everything we can to keep that from happening so we can stay in that game late.”

The Purdue attack is once again spearheaded by Robbie Hummel, a player who opposing teams must feel like has been there forever. The fifth-year senior is in the midst of a successful comeback from two ACL tears, the first suffered toward the end of the season two years ago and the second in the team’s very first practice last season.

While point guard Lewis Jackson and 3-point marksman Ryne Smith bolster the offense, the key to stopping the Boilermakers is still to stymie Hummel, who’s averaging 15.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.

The forward has struggled a bit in his team’s last three games, shooting just 10-for-42 in that span. Hummel was particularly ineffective in Saturday’s loss to Michigan State, scoring just two points, but Beilein said he’s still a “tremendous” player.

Michigan knows what it’s like to have a star player in an offensive funk. Sophomore guard Tim Hardaway Jr. has not looked like his normal high-scoring self in recent weeks, averaging just 9.3 points per game while Burke has become the team’s go-to threat.

It’s a reversal from last season for Hardaway Jr. The Miami native turned it on in Big Ten play last season, especially from deep, shooting 44.2 percent on 3-pointers during conference play. This year, Hardaway Jr.’s gotten colder in the Big Ten. He’s shot 19.2 percent on 3-pointers and is just 1-for-16 in the last three games.

Meanwhile, sophomore forward Evan Smotrycz continues to disappoint. After enjoying the best all-around stretch of his career in December, Smotrycz has averaged just 3.9 points per game since scoring 10 in the Big Ten opener against Penn State.

“You have a flow to your team,” Beilein said. “Last year, we really had a flow with Darius, and Stu, and Zack, and everyone in concert all the time. Our timing was better. Right now, we’re trying to develop the same flow, and sometimes that will throw a good player just out of his timing.”

The Wolverines have not fared well on the road against teams which themselves just suffered a disappointing loss away from home, falling to both Iowa and Arkansas. At the same time, Michigan defeated Wisconsin and Michigan State when both teams were coming off losses.

That’s the situation on Tuesday night, and Purdue is 5-0 this season after a loss. With Michigan desperate for its first road triumph, something’s going to give.

“Every game that we’re going to be in, especially on the road, will be determined in the last few seconds,” Beilein said. “That ball will bounce our way sometimes, it won’t other times. … You just got to play it out and hope it all balances out.”

HORFORD CLOSE?: Injured sophomore forward Jon Horford has been practicing with the team in recent days but looks very rusty. Beilein said there’s a chance he could play against Purdue, but that Horford needs to show his pre-injury form first for that to happen.

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