This is the first Purdue basketball season where I won't be living in the state of Indiana. It's a strange feeling. I've always lived within a 2.5 hour drive of West Lafayette, and thus only 2.5 hours away from any home Purdue basketball game should tickets become available to me. This season though will be much much different. I'll be just like the masses struggling to find the game on TV/some internet only channel bull crap. With the two exhibitions in the book, only one of which I was able to watch, and the season officially starting tomorrow I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at the season and make some crazy predictions. I know this is the internet so there's the temptation to hold me to whatever I say here but let's not do that huh? These are crazy predictions for a reason.
- During the non-conference season Purdue plays 13 games including six games as part of the Maui Invitational. My guess is Purdue goes 8-5 during the non-conference season. Not a fantastic record but something they can work with if they hope to have a shot to make it back to the tournament. Not the CBI mind you. THE tournament. I see losses to either Arizona/Kansas State in Maui, whichever Purdue plays, and Notre Dame and maybe Vandy and NC State being games Purdue could struggle with. I'm also throwing in one surprise loss that seems to happen nearly every season.
- During the non-conference season while P.J. Thompson will be a great addition to the team he's going to play like a freshman at the time and draw the ire of fans who expect him to be Lew Jack right away. That's not going to happen. Jon "Dr." Octeus (I think that's a much better nickname than Octeus Prime) will be a refreshing help to this Purdue team that desperately needs help. I expect the combination of Octeus and Thompson to more than make up for the loss of "Shy" Ronnie Johnson.
- Purdue runs a zone defense with consistency during the game to great effect with A.J. Hammons having a great season defensively and Isaac Haas showing flashes of brilliance.
- Purdue loses a heartbreaker late in the non-conference season when it's ruled that Chris Booker was ineligible to come back mid-season.
- As we move into conference season with its 18 game schedule and new teams Maryland and Rutgers Purdue needs probably 10-12 wins to be promised a spot in the dance. That's not going to be easy. Taking a look at the schedule the most I can optimistically see, unless Purdue comes out of nowhere this season to surprise everyone, is 11 wins. That includes two wins over IU and three victories over the incoming members of the conference.
- This leaves Purdue at 19 wins going into the BTT and with a victory would probably guarantee a spot in the Big Dance. If they get to 19 wins during the regular season I think they win the one game in the BTT to feel safe and get into the tournament.
- Leading scorer for the season- A.J. Hammons. Second leading scorer- Kendall Stephens
- Leading charge taker- Rapheal Davis
- Leading three point shooter- Kendall Stephens
- Assist Leader- Jon Octeus
- Rebounds leader- P.J. Thompson...just kidding A.J. Hammons
- Breakout Freshman- P.J. Thompson
- Breakout returner- Basil Smotherman
So see all that above? That's my incredibly optimistic look at the upcoming schedule. Purdue could just as easily end the season with a third disappointing season in a row and fail to make the Big Dance again putting Matt Painter onto the hottest of seats. I don't view this as a make or break season for the coach but this is going to be a season that can certainly set the course for his future. The recruiting has been on the upswing with more shooters coming onto the roster and some players who are umm shall we say less selfish than their predecessors. I can't say for sure what's going to happen this season and my most optimistic outline above seems pretty far fetched after what we've seen these past two years. I believe in Matt Painter though and truly think he can turn this around. Will this be the start of the rebound? Was last year the bottom? One things for sure, it could always be worse.