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38 Days to Basketball - The Lineup Game - The Popular Vote

Dakota Mathias as savior? Ray D off the bench? One day into lineup discussions and Purdue fans have some ideas. We'll let you know if you need to grab a straw and start drinking the kool-aid or a bucket to douse the fires.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

While not unanimous, the popular vote is definitely in and according to most of you, the Boiler starting lineup will look like this:

The Fan's Starting Five:

Dakota Mathias, G

Rapheal Davis, G

Vince Edwards, F

Caleb Swanigan, F

A. J. Hammons, C

There seems to be a consensus that Davis, Edwards, and Hammons are absolute starts. I agree with this. In almost every way you look, those were our three best players last year. The eye test tells you that and most stats back it up.Jon Octeus led the team last year with a win share of 4 with those three following close behind as the only other Boilers with a win share of over three.

As an aside, there was a small discussion on the boards of bringing Davis off the bench. Stop it. Stop it right now. You do not bring the Defensive Player of the Year off the bench. That's not how this works. Consider yourself reprimanded, officially.

There's another board wide agreement that's a little more surprising, and to be honest, a little alarming. Dakota Mathias, the 4.8 points averaging, 1.4 assisting per game sophomore is our best option at point guard. In case you missed that, the savior of our spacing issues is someone averaging 4.8 more points a game than you are sitting on your sofa.

I get it, I really do. I'm a huge fan of Mathias. He's the quintessential IQ guy. He makes the right pass, and sometimes even the spectacular one. He's got a pretty looking stroke that looks like it should be automatic. He played scrappy, heady D at times, but again, stop it.

The thing he was supposed to do well? He shot 32% from deep. That's a problem when 77% of your shots are from beyond the three point arc. That's a higher percentage of his shots going from downtown than Kendall Stephens(72% of his shots came from three).

The other thing he does well? He averaged just over 1 assist a game. Sure, we still don't have a stat for making the extra pass a pass before the bucket, but the only players with a lower Assist Percentage last year than Mathias were Hammons and Haas. They are definitely not good at passing. Dakota assisted on 13.5% of made field goals while he was on the floor just under Smotherman's 13.8% and almost 8% less than Bryson Scott's Assist Percentage.

He had the third worst effective field goal percentage on the team last year(an all encompassing metric that tends to help three point shooters by weighing made threes as more important) barely edging out P. J. Thompson and Bryson Scott.

And while we laud him for being protective of the bar - he had the second best turnover percentage on the team - the player with the best? Kendall Stephens, who shot more frequently and with more efficiency while assisting more and turning the ball over less.

And despite all this, I really like Mathias. He rattled a ton of three in and out of the rim last year, and those shots will start falling the more comfortable he gets with the college game. He makes good decisions and makes them quickly, but he's not the answer at point guard. He can't stick with most two guards on the defensive end, let alone a quick point guard. Coach Painter is not going to want to have Rapheal Davis chasing around water bugs all day. He's a much better defender off the ball, using his strength and positioning to stop a player before he even gets the ball.

But I was wrong, too. As much as I love spacing, there's no denying Swanigan's talent and his apparent work ethic. He'll probably get the nod at power forward in the starting lineup. Edwards will continue to be our most efficient player, and Hammons will continue to anchor our defense with Davis.

And Johnny Hill will be our starting point guard because on a team loaded with multi-dimensional players and a ton of talent, he is the only one with a particular talent for getting to the hoop. And that might be the difference in winning the Big Ten or finishing fifth, between a sweet sixteen exit or a final four run. Cline can improve our range. Swanigan can control the paint. Hammons can continue to beast. Ray D will keep opposing star's lights from shining, but it will be up to Hill to create for himself and others.

My Day Later Revised Starting Five:

Johnny Hill, G

Rapheal Davis, G

Vince Edwards, F

Caleb Swanigan, F

A. J. Hammons, C

For whatever issues of spacing, there's something to be said for owning the rim. Swanigan and Hammons will be a nightmare for every team, and you can try to be too clever. Edwards was our most efficient player last year, Davis shot almost forty percent from deep in Big Ten play, and Hill offers the highest ceiling at point. Teams just aren't going to score against this five, and the Boilers should live at the line with this lineup.

It wouldn't surprise me to see this lineup opening day, and closing night - hopefully deep into March.