NCAA March Madness Preview – Purdue Boilermakers

Purdue Boilermakers

Big Ten (25-7, 14-4)

 by Dan Levine

Purdue has had a great regular season.  After a bit of a slow start to the conference season, Purdue finally emerged as the solid conference favorite alongside Wisconsin.  At the end of the wild year in the Big Ten, Purdue indeed emerged as the regular season champion.  It’s easy to see why this was Purdue’s year.  When you boast a potential player of the year candidate in Caleb Swanigan, good things are bound to happen.  This team is tournament ready.

Big Wins: 12/17 vs Notre Dame (86-81), 1/8 Wisconsin (66-55), 2/4 at Maryland (73-72)

Bad Losses: 1/12 at Iowa (78-83), 1/29 at Nebraska (80-83), 2/25 at Michigan (70-82)

Coach: Matt Painter

Why They Can Surprise:

Despite a few hiccups throughout the season, Purdue has looked like the most complete Big Ten team all year.  They only lost four conference games all season.  Even in a down Big Ten, Purdue proved their mettle by battling excellent teams outside of the conference.  They lost really early in the season to defending champion Villanova by three and then battled Louisville on the road before falling.  Still those were close games, and Purdue has only gotten better.  They are going to be a tough matchup for any tournament opponent mainly because of their size.  Swanigan and Isaac Haas are two mountains down low.

They do not play a ton together, but the Boilermakers constantly have a presence on the blocks.  They are a very good rebounding team as a result – 17th in the country in rebounding margin.  Additionally, freshman guard Carsen Edwards has been a steadying force in the backcourt.  Guard play has been a question in years past, but Edwards has played with poise all season.  This team has enough scoring potential and defense to make a run at the Final Four.

Why They Can Disappoint:

Their head-scratching losses would be cause for someone to question how far this team can really go.  Losing to Nebraska and Iowa in conference play was out of character for the Boilermakers.  An off shooting night and a hot opponent could create an issue for Purdue going through the postseason.  Michigan also found a way to dispatch Purdue late in the season with some timely 3-point shooting.  Purdue will also want to watch their turnovers.  For all that they do well, they are prone to turnovers in key situations.  Foul trouble to Swanigan will also play a key role.  Few players are as important to their team as Swanigan is to Purdue.  He will need to stay on the floor for this team to go far.

Probable Starters:

Caleb Swanigan, Sophomore, Forward, 18.5 ppg, 12.6 rpg, 2.9 apg

Dakota Mathias, Junior, Guard, 9.9 ppg, 3.6 apg

P.J. Thompson, Junior, Guard, 7.2 ppg, 3.0 apg

Vince Edwards, Junior, Forward, 12.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 3.2 apg

Carsen Edwards, Freshman, Guard, 10.4 ppg, 1.9 apg

Key Role Players:

Isaac Haas, Junior, Center, 12.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg

Spike Albrecht, Junior, Guard, 1.8 ppg, 1.3 apg

Ryan Cline, Sophomore, Guard, 5.6 ppg, 1.5 apg

By the Numbers:

Scoring Offense: 80.5 (30th in nation, 1st in conference)

Scoring Defense: 66.9 (55, 4)

Field-Goal Percentage: 48.0 (27, 1)

Field-Goal Defense: 41.3 (52, 7)

Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 9.0 (46, 2)

Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 40.6 (9, 1)

Free-Throw Percentage: 77.0 (15, 2)

Rebound Margin: 7.1 (17, 2)

Assists Per Game: 18.2 (2, 1)

Turnovers Per Game: 13.0 (162, 7)

Recent Postseason Appearances:

2016    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Arkansas Little Rock

2015    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Cincinnati

2013    CBI     First Round win over Western Illinois

2013    CBI     Quarterfinal loss to Santa Clara

2012    NCAA Round of 64 win over St. Mary’s

2012    NCAA Round of 32 loss to Kansas

2011    NCAA Round of 64 win over St. Peters

2011    NCAA Round of 32 loss to VCU

2010    NCAA Round of 64 win over Siena

2010    NCAA Round of 32 win over Texas A&M

2010    NCAA Regional Semifinal loss to Duke

2009    NCAA Round of 64 win over Northern Iowa

2009    NCAA Round of 32 win over Washington

2009    NCAA Regional Semifinal loss to Connecticut

2008    NCAA Round of 64 win over Baylor

2008    NCAA Round of 32 loss to Xavier

2007    NCAA Round of 64 win over Arizona

2007    NCAA Round of 32 loss to Florida

*all team stats through 3/5

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