We're still likely several weeks away from knowing the full men's basketball schedule in terms of dates, times, and such, but there are enough pieces out there to know many of the opponents. The non-conference schedule looks like it will once again have enough heft to get Purdue into the NCAA Tournament if the team can do the work necessary. It really comes down to simple math. There are going to be 18 conference games and 13 non-conference games. A 10-8 record in the Big Ten and 10-3 record out of conference should at last have Purdue in the discussion for the NCAA tournament.
With that in mind, here is what we know:
Conference games: 18
Home: Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska
Away: Michigan State, Northwestern, Penn State, Wisconsin
Home/Away: Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio State, Rutgers
Purdue gets a gigantic gift by getting a home and home in conference play with Rutgers. I am sorry, but their program is on worse footing than Northwestern right now. If those are two of the 10 wins we need then Purdue isn't making the tournament at all.
Also, it is nice to see that the Big Ten was smart enough to return to two games against Indiana. That is a series that should be protected where we always play the Hoosiers twice. It is not hard to protect that as a rivalry and with the way both teams are struggling, the intensity should be ramped up.
The road-only games are an even split. Northwestern and Penn State should be winnable, while Michigan State and Wisconsin (the likely overwhelming league favorite) will be very difficult. Getting Ohio State twice sucks because we have struggled greatly against them with non-Baby Boilers teams of late. Of the two-game guarantees, however, they were the only team that made this past season's NCAA Tournament.
Overall, it is a decent Big Ten schedule. Finding 10 wins shouldn't be too tall of a task if the team actually plays together and shows improvement. Even in as bad as this past season was, we only needed five more wins, and Purdue should have beaten Northwestern both times, it should have won at Penn State, and the road Minnesota and home Michigan games were winnable.
Non-Conference games: 13
Maui Invitational: four games
Like this past year in the Old Spice Classic, the Maui invite now allows teams a home game before the traditional three on Maui. They are calling the games on Maui the "Championship Round". Last season there were a series of Opening games that were played on campus and teams took advantage to add an additional game to the schedule. Minnesota hosted Coastal Carolina. St. Francis(NY) played at Syracuse and Dayton. Oakland went to California and Gonzaga, while Louisiana went to Arkansas and Baylor.
St. Francis, Coastal Carolina, Oakland, and Louisiana got to play in a small, four-team regional on the mainland then, while the "championship round" teams went to Maui automatically.
This year we know that the Championship Round teams will be Purdue, Arizona, BYU, Pittsburgh, Missouri, Kansas State, and San Diego State in addition to Chaminade. Honestly, the only way Purdue can lose in this tournament is if it does a repeat of its trip to Orlando and wins just one game over the weakest team in the field. If the Boilers walk away with just one victory, over Chaminade, it is going to be a fruitless trip. Playing Chaminade technically does not even count in terms of the RPI. Missouri and Purdue were the only teams in the field that did not make the NCAA Tournament this past year, so any non-Chaminade game will be a lot more beneficial than even playing Washington State in Orlando.
The opening game will also likely be against a mid- to low-major in Mackey Arena. This is what the Siena home game was last season, as it was officially part of the Old Spice Classic.
The Championship round with be November 24-26, with the opening game likely just before heading out there.
Crossroads Classic vs. Notre Dame - As we know, this is an easy one, as the fourth year of the Crossroads Classic has us playing the Fighting Irish at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. In fact, we know a date already as it will be on December 20th.
West Virginia - Yes, West Virginia will return for a fifth time in the past six seasons as the competitive series appears to have been renewed:
West Virginia's 14-15 non-conference schedule: Virginia Tech, SEC/Big 12 Challenge, At Purdue Puerto Rico Shootout, NC State @ MSG on 12/20.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) April 28, 2014
It looks like West Virginia will head to Mackey Arena for a third time with Purdue likely going back to Morgantown in 2015-16. Not bad! This gives Purdue a guaranteed second major conference non-conference opponent.
UPDATE: Well, maybe not:
Contrary to what's been reported, #Purdue is not playing West Virginia in 2014-15, according to a source.— GoldandBlack.com (@GoldandBlackcom) April 28, 2014
ACC/Big Ten Challenge - This will very likely be a road game as Purdue hosted Boston College last season. There will also be 14 games as the Big Ten adds Rutgers and Maryland while the ACC adds Louisville. With the Big Ten at 14 games and ACC at 15 games one ACC team will be left out, and that will be Virginia Tech, who was the last place ACC finisher at 2-16.
Since Purdue finished last in the Big Ten it is likely playing at one of the bottom teams in the ACC. Boston College (4-14) is due for a home game, but we did just play them. Notre Dame (6-12) would be a possibility, but we already have a scheduled game against them. That leaves Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, or Miami as the likely opponents. Georgia Tech had a home game this past year, so they are likely on the road. Wake Forest did not play in last year's challenge and was at home in the 2012 challenge. Miami went to Nebraska last year, so they are due for a home game. Playing in Coral Gables would be tough, as a depleted Miami team still went 17-16 this past year and has several players coming eligible after transfers. They'll be pretty good in 2014-15.
Remaining games: 6
Since Purdue already has four neutral site games and a likely true road game in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge I would not expect much out of the remaining six non-conference games. They are probably going to be low-major paycheck games that a young Purdue team will be looking to buy some wins against. This is exactly what happened in 2013-14 with Northern Kentucky, Central Connecticut State, Rider, Eastern Illinois, Eastern Michigan, and Maryland-Eastern Shore.
Expect these last six games to be against a similar caliber of opponent. One might be against an in-state team like IPFW, IUPUI, or Ball State. Indiana State and IPFW would probably be the best teams to play in-state in terms of getting a tough game against a quality opponent.