It's tough to know if the shooting tragedy affected any of the team last night. Tough break to play NW in Evanston on an emotional day. Shooting under 28% on the road and having a chance to win is something, but all the more maddening for the fans of this team, since we see all the talent. As I see this team, they have the "potential" to beat any B1G team (MSU included) on a good night, but also the chance to lose to any team. The bottom of the B1G is getting better and NW, Nebraska, and Penn State are not going to be the locks for W's going forward. Let's face it, beating NW has never been easy for Purdue on the road, for whatever reason. When I was at Purdue Big Dog needed his last second shot to beat a bad NW team in Welsh-Ryan. They also lost at Penn St. Nothing's guaranteed on the road, even with a loaded, consistent team. Don't forget these are kids.
I really like this team's potential, but they just haven't turned the corner yet with consistency and an identity with consistent scorers. A lot of scoring threats, but not consistently. That's not a good thing until they become consistent and you know who you can rely upon outside of Hammons and TJ. So, here's what I think it will take to reach the tourney. I know this isn't high math, but I wanted to type this out even for my own benefit to see if Purdue still had any hope after losing last night. I think they need at least 7 wins, if not 8 to be considered (not counting any B1G tourney runs):
5 MUST wins: @ Penn St, Minn, IU, @ Nebraska, NW (you'll see that none of these are locks. Purdue could lose to all 4 of these teams very easily).
2 RESUME wins: Wisconsin, Michigan (while it would be nice to knock someone off on the road, it seems like the Boilers have to take down these 2, or Sparty at home).
1 PULL-ONE-OUT-OF-YOUR-ASS win: @ Michigan (a sweep of Michigan? Seems improbable, but I don't see us beating OSU on their court this year. We haven't had success much there).
SLIM-PICKINS-OF-A-CHANCE wins: @ Iowa, @ Wisconsin (I don't see much of a way to win these 2 on the road. I see us beating Sparty at home before these 2 for some gut-feeling-reason. Prove me wrong Matty).
This is the most likely path I see to the NCAA's this year. Do I think Purdue will pull it off? No. Not this year. I think we finish under .500 again, but I'd like to be proven wrong. Maybe consistency emerges. The thing about the schedule is that I can see this team beating anyone on a good night...anyone. But, a "good night" is hard to come by consistently for these boys. Go get 'em and bring in Keady for a "I'm gonna fight and punch you in the mouth speech" to fire them up.