Here we are, the final stretch. If you're reading this, it means we're here. Gameday. Finally.
I've recruited some of my fellow writers to help me fill out the final ten predictions for the Purdue season ahead.
21. Purdue Basketball will allow as many games under 55 points as Purdue football allowed over 40 points.
We had six games last year where we held our opponent to 55 points or less. The Purdue football team this year has already allowed five teams to score 40 or more against them. There will probably be more - looking at you Hoosier fans. Remember, shorter shot clock means higher scoring games, so even matching last years number of games under 55 would be impressive. I don't think our defense will rate better than last year, but we're still Purdue and there's still a handful of chumps on our schedule and we still play in the B10.
22. Jacquil Taylor will play less than 100 minutes this year.
Jacquil redshirted last year, appeared in only 6 games, and still had 42 minutes of play. I don't think he gets all that much more this year. He's just not there. His stats looked good, but that was in garbage time against a garbage time team. He had less competition than you can get at the co-rec most nights. His post moves are predictable, he doesn't know how to use his athleticism, and there's just not any minutes for a big man that can't make a big impact. He'll mop up on occasion, but nothing substantial. Remember, he barely even played in the intra-squad scrimmage, and that I think is a better indicator on where Coach Painter thinks he is.
23. We'll have at least 4 players average double digit points.
Last year, the Boilers only had two players average double digit in points - Davis and Hammons - but we had six average more than 7 points. Edwards is going to take a leap - seriously, we should slow down before we jinx ourselves - and Swanigan joins the team as a proven post threat. Haas is ready to earn a little more time on the court and scored a point for every two minutes of playing. Cline could be special, Stephens might make a leap, and Mathias should be open even more this year. Purdue's greatest strength is balance, and with the shot clock brought down five seconds, and a team that should look to run a little more this year, points might not be as hard to come by this year for everyone.
24. Haas will score 20+ points on 80%+ shooting in a game.
Big man gonna big. He's gonna be a mismatch for everyone we play, especially early in our non conference. He looks more comfortable than last year, and he's gonna have a big night. He also might just get fouled so much that he shoots 15 free throws and only has and 1's as field goal attempts.
25. Rapheal Davis won't have 20+ points in a game.
Davis was forced into a heavier offensive load last season, and he responded admirably well. He shouldn't have to this year, and he'll be fine with that. He's got a sneaky off the bounce game, an improving 3 point shot, and did a good job of bailing us out late in games last year. However, we have better options this year. Edwards should shift naturally into a late game focal point for our offense when we're not feeding one of the bigs down low. Davis seems like the type of player that will be content on focusing even more on shutting down the opposing team's best player. He had three 20+ point games last year.
26. Dakota Mathias will have 18 games with more assists than field goals made.
He had 11 games last year where he assisted on more baskets than baskets he made himself. I can't think of a more Dakota stat, especially after watching the exhibition and scrimmage. The more talent he has around him, the more he wants to get them in the game. He doesn't look comfortable coming off screens and shooting, not like Cline and Stephens. His body seems to lag a bit behind him, and he never gets all the way square as he goes up. He's much more comfortable catching and shooting for a stationary position, and those shots just don't come by as often. He doesn't force shots, and makes the right pass consistently which leads to his ability to find more baskets for others than himself.
27. Purdue wins 24 games and a share of the Big Ten Title with Maryland and Wisconsin
There it is. The B10 is going to be a war of attrition. No one is going unscathed. No one has an easy road. There's more heart than head in that prediction, but we're as deep as any team in the league. Maryland just lost a key player, Wisconsin is young, Indiana is still mostly the same team as last year, and Michigan State waits for March to turn it on. I'll trust in the turtle's Trimble, Bo Ryan, and our depth to rise slightly above the rest.
And now to get to some other people's predictions to finish this up.
28. Purdue will be ranked in the top 10 at some point this season.
There's just the right amount of easy games to start the season, and one tough road test that could be the quickest and easiest way to jump into the top 10 early. If we beat Pitt and Old Dominion, avoid any slip ups before Butler, it'll be hard to picture us not in the top 10. There's also a cluster of games against top ranked opponents. Upset two top flight teams in the same week and you can expect the voter's to vault us up the polls.
Andrew Holmes' prediction:
29. Vince Edwards will make an All-B10 team and James Blackmon won't.
We're all drinking the Edwards kool-aid. As for Blackmon, Andrew's belief is we're all overrating him. He's pretty obsessed about it, and the end of the year didn't make any Hoosier look particularly good.
And now to our leader for the finish...
30. Ryan Cline will make the All-Freshman team.
He looks good, no denying it. The talent around him, particularly on the defensive end, should hold his liabilities in check. He'll have every chance on a team that was probably one or two shooters short last year. He's going to get hot in the some games, and Coach Painter would have redshirted him if he didn't feel like he could make a real impact. Purdue should be really good this year, and winning usually helps with making it onto all conference teams.
So that's it. We'll check in on these halfway through the year, and then again at the end of the year. We might not be right on a lot of these, but I think we'll be close on most. (Not sure what I was thinking on Mathias's assist count. I had it at 4 the day before I posted and changed it to 5 in a delirious midnight reread, but alas.)
Basketball start now.
See you at Mackey.