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Big Ten Men’s Basketball Mid Season Check-In: Purdue Boilermakers

Will Purdue break through in March?

Purdue v Maryland Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

It’s time for the mid-season check-in of everyone’s favorite Big Ten team: your Purdue Boilermakers. The Boilermakers have looked the part of a national contender, but does the average college basketball fan care about anything this team does before March?


Record: 13-1 (2-1)

Torvik: 2, KenPom: 2, Haslam: 3, NET: 3, AP: 1, Coaches: 1

*NOTE: we are listing Torvik rankings for opponents. This is because a) NET rankings suck in December and you really shouldn’t pay attention to them until February and b) Torvik is completely free (KenPom is not) and we prefer using Torvik to Haslam. Numbers as of January 3.

Wins: N-Alabama (3), N-Arizona (4), N-Tennessee (8), N-Marquette (10), N-Gonzaga (26), Xaiver (40), Iowa (70), @Maryland (113), Samford (108), Morehead State (156), Eastern Kentucky (230), Texas Southern (268), Jacksonville (283)

Losses: @Northwestern (67)

Allstate Maui Invitational - Purdue v Marquette Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images

The Boilermakers have the Big Ten’s best collection of non-conference wins and it’s not a particularly close contest. They also have the best collection of non-conference wins of any team in the country, which is why the AP poll and Coaches poll currently have them at #1 in the country despite there still being three undefeated teams. The advanced metrics mostly agree, putting undefeated Houston in front with Haslam and the NET also getting drunk on BYU running up the score against non-tournament teams. Zach Edey has been great, Braden Smith and Fletcher Loyer have made the sophomore jump, and the newcomers give Purdue some athleticism on defense and ability to better break the press.

The lone blemish on the Purdue resume is a road loss to Northwestern which has looked stranger and stranger the further we get away from that game. It is proof that Purdue is mortal and the recipe to beating them is to get the Boilermakers to turn the ball over, miss shots, and shoot a very good percentage yourself.

On pace for: At-large bid and a good seed

Jacksonville v Purdue Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Thanks to their non-conference resume, the Boilermakers have the inside track to a 1 seed for a second consecutive season if they can win the Big Ten regular season. That’s easier said than done, but Purdue has put themselves in a great position (and helped the odds of their conference foes as well). Torvik’s simulations give Purdue an average seed of 1.3 based on 10,000 simulations of the rest of the season.

Biggest Surprises

Purdue v Maryland Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

BoilerUp89: Lance Jones was not the best player in the transfer portal this past spring, but he has filled a hole in Purdue’s roster just about perfectly. Jones gives Purdue a second above average ball handler which has greatly reduced the amount of issues with breaking the press and allowed the Boilermakers to get out and run in transition more than last season. Jones is Purdue’s best on ball defender and while he won’t completely shut down talented guards, he does have the ability to slow them down more than the rest of the roster.

Biggest Disappointments

Eastern Kentucky v Purdue
Keep working on taking care of the ball
Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

BoilerUp89: The turnovers haven’t gotten significantly better for Purdue compared to last year as this team has had a tendency to be a little loose with the basketball. If you are a Purdue fan or Matt Painter, you’d like to see the players more consistently take care of the basketball.

Reasons for Optimism

Eastern Kentucky v Purdue Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

BoilerUp89: There are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about this year’s team. Zach Edey has improved from last year’s national player of the year campaign. The three point shooting has been fantastic with six players shooting over 38% from behind the arc including Mason Gillis’s 51.9%! Purdue is an excellent rebounding team and the defensive numbers have been solid. The ability to win against different styles of play has been an underrated aspect of this season’s early success.

Reasons for Concern

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 29 Eastern Kentucky at Purdue
Keep developing Colvin please
Photo by Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

BoilerUp89: If I have one complaint at this point in the season, it is the limited minutes Myles Colvin is getting. I understand that Matt Painter doesn’t trust his defense (and to be fair to Painter, Colvin’s defense has been downright bad at times), but he’s more athletic than Ethan Morton and if you can get him up to speed defensively by March he is a definite upgrade on offense and has the physical attributes to potentially be an upgrade on defense as well. Keep playing Colvin, Painter. Even if it costs a game or three.

The other concerns are relatively minor. Purdue needs to keep working on avoiding turnovers and the defense can tighten things up as they’ve benefitted from some teams missing open looks more often than usual. Neither of those are impossible goals. The only other issue is that March Madness is a one and done tournament setting. You can be the best team and get knocked out early. It’s part of the beauty of the tournament but a reason that Purdue fans shouldn’t be booking hotel rooms for April.

Remaining Schedule

Home: Illinois (9), Penn State (102), Michigan (65), Northwestern (66), Indiana (98), Minnesota (84), Rutgers (92), Michigan State (11), Wisconsin (28)

Away: Nebraska (52), Indiana (98), Iowa (70), Rutgers (92), Wisconsin (28), Ohio State (21), Michigan (65), Illinois (9)

BoilerUp89: Purdue is going to get every team’s best shot the rest of the season especially on the road. They don’t have the easiest schedule to repeat as Big Ten champions with single plays against Maryland, Penn State, and Minnesota, but if the Boilermakers are as good as they hope to be that shouldn’t matter.


Will Purdue repeat as Big Ten regular season champions?

This poll is closed

  • 89%
    (95 votes)
  • 7%
    (8 votes)
  • 2%
    No, I’ll tell you who I have knocking them off in the comments
    (3 votes)
106 votes total Vote Now


This March, Purdue will...

This poll is closed

  • 56%
    Make a Final Four
    (59 votes)
  • 14%
    Make an Elite 8
    (15 votes)
  • 11%
    Make a Sweet 16
    (12 votes)
  • 18%
    Make BoilerUp89 stop contributing to OTE for a month
    (19 votes)
105 votes total Vote Now