I’ll just get this out of the way. Yes, I know that a preview should take place before something begins, in this case the Big Ten season. No, I didn’t finish this on time, and probably won’t until the weekend. But, with this year’s longer Big Ten season, I’ll still be done by the time any team has played two games. If this was last year, I’d be right on time.
Since that is taken care of….
They’ve been christened the Baby Boilers, promoted to toddler Boilers after beating then #20 Louisville, and have since been relegated to fetal boilers after a loss to Wofford and giving up the first 16 points of the game in a come back win over Florida International. How could the same team beat a top 20 national power, almost beat one of the best teams in the ACC, and lose to a mediocre Southern Conference team and barely beat Missouri State in the same week? The answer is 7: the combined years of experience of Purdue’s starting line up.
What we know:
Purdue made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament last year and gave eventual national champion Florida is toughest game in the big dance. This all took place a year after a 9-19 disaster of a season. This year’s team will play like either of those teams. The only question is which team will show up on which night.
Carl Landry and David Teague, Purdue’s top scorers from a year ago are gone, but they have been replaced (or more) by super-freshman JaJuan Johnson, Robbie Hummel, and E’Twaun Moore. Like most “impact” freshman, there will be nights of sheer brilliance and not so subtle reminders that 18 year-olds have never been known for their superior decision making skills. If head coach Matt Painter makes it until next year with a full head of hair, he should have his choice of endorsement deals as Purdue will be the team to beat.
Who to watch:
- Scott Martin, one of Purdue’s lesser heralded 5 freshman, is the teams leading scorer.
- Robbie Hummel is averaging 9 points and 6 rebounds, while shooting better than 50% from the floor.
- E’Twaun Moore is Purdue’s highest ranked recruit since Big Dog Glenn Robinson took a bite out of the Big Ten (cliched nicknames were so much easier in the mid-90’s). As if he is on a mission to be the prototypical freshman, he has shown flashes of brilliance (against Loyola-Chicago) and completely disappeared (0-5 from the floor and 1 point against Louisville). At least they can win without him.
How they’ll do:
Wins: Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa, Wisconsin, Iowa, Penn State, at Northwestern, Minnesota, Northwestern, Michigan
Losses: Michigan State, Illinois, at Penn State, at Illinois, at Wisconsin, at Michigan State, at Indiana, at Ohio State
Record: 10-8 (19-12) Firmly on the bubble, with the ability to win or lose every game on their schedule
What we don’t know:
How long until this team is the best in the league?