First, let’s look at some undeniable facts:
· Purdue won the 2016-17 Big Ten title by two games.
· The majority of this team will likely return, including four senior starters with a ton of experience and two other major role players in Carsen Edwards and Ryan Cline.
· Only Spike Albrecht, who statistically did not do much, and Caleb Swanigan, who could potentially return if he chooses, will be gone. It is fair to say Swanigan is gone, but as for anyone else? They will return.
· Purdue had only 8 healthy scholarship players in 2016-17, and it will add at least five more newcomers for depth purposes plus get Jacquil Taylor back (also for depth purposes). That means they have experience and now depth.
· Purdue has been a top 25 team in every AP Poll for two consecutive years. The bulk of that team returns.
Normally, this would be enough for at least a modicum of respect, right? I mean college basketball writers love to praise experience and four-year players as “doing it the right way”. So that means Purdue is in all of these “Way too early” top 25s, right?
Well… about that:
This one should really piss you off. Purdue is not in the top 25. Purdue is not even in the additional 7 teams considered. A team it beat twice and had a “D” recruiting class is No. 25. A team it beat twice and fired its coach is at No. 15. Purdue is nowhere to be found and it is infuriating. Really? Archie Miller is going to come in and immediately make Indiana a top 15 team after they woefully underachieved in 2016-17 and they are bringing back virtually the same roster (while it was painfully obvious that their struggles were an attitude issue at times)? Well, at least we know almost beating Kentucky again is good for 8th nationally, Wichita State.
Again, no Purdue, but at least they are not crazy enough to put Indiana in the top 15. I can understand Michigan State being high with that recruiting class and Minnesota showing promise by returning virtually everyone from a team that surprised, but I swear, this is like 2010-11 all over again. Once Robbie Hummel went down in the preseason Purdue dropped form top 5 to out of the rankings and some people questioned if we would even make the tournament. Never mind we had two senior NBA players on the roster. The #narrative is that Purdue lost Caleb Swanigan and he did EVERYTHING for Purdue, so all hope is lost.
Considering NBC doesn’t broadcast college basketball I can give them a pass on being stupid. No Purdue here. Virginia Tech, Nevada, and Alabama are questionable at best choices.
Once again, no Purdue anywhere to be found. Did I just imagine that Dakota Mathias, Vince Edwards, Isaac Haas, and P.J. Thompson all have played for Purdue the last three years and all had a huge role in winning the Big Ten this past season?
Well, we have long known Seth Davis is an idiot. Winning the NIT gets you a No. 24 spot. Finishing fourth in a “down” Big Ten gets you a top 10 spot when you return most of the team, but actually winning said conference and doing the same gets you nothing.
At least here Purdue leads the “Others being considered” pack and we’re ahead of other teams that other polls have in the top 25 like Michigan, Oregon, South Carolina, Baylor, etc.
Maryland can lose its early entry player and leader and still be ranked with a strong sophomore class. Purdue can do the same and not be ranked with seniors.
Finally! Purdue gets tossed a bone and is No 24:
2016-17 record: 27-8
Notable players definitely gone: Spike Albrecht
Notable players also expected to leave: Caleb Swanigan
Notable players expected to return: Isaac Haas, Carsen Edwards, Vince Edwards, Dakota Mathias, P.J. Thompson, Ryan Cline
Notable newcomers: Nojel Eastern, Sasha Stefanovic, Aaron Wheeler, Eden Ewing, Matt Haarms
Why the Boilermakers are here: The expected loss of Caleb Swanigan will be massive in multiple ways. But there are too many good and experienced winners on Purdue’s roster to expect Matt Painter’s team to slip much, if at all.
Look, I get it. Caleb Swanigan is an excellent player. I fully expect him to go pro. The fact he has yet to make any sort of an announcement now 12 days after our last game gives me a very small hope that he might return, but I would put that at a 1% chance and it has only grown to that because he hasn’t said anything in 12 days. I also get that we didn’t make a Final Four, got blown out by 32 points in our last game, and it was a “down” Big Ten.
That said, WE WON THE BIG TEN BY TWO GAMES AND RETURN THE MAJORITY OF THE TEAM!!!!!!!!!!!! Indiana did the exact same thing in 2015-16 and was a lock top 15 team in all of these polls a year ago. And you wonder why Purdue fans have a complex.
This is absolutely absurd. Purdue has a group of four seniors that have won 21, 26, and 27 games the last three years. They have reached a Sweet 16 and won a major conference title. In any other year and for any other team national writers would be salivating over this. If we were even in the Missouri Valley Conference the national media couldn’t hide their excitement (hi, Wichita State). You would think that winning the Big Ten would be worth a little more, but I guess not.
I know the Big Ten will be tougher next year. Michigan State is going to be very good. Michigan, Northwestern, Maryland, Minnesota, and Wisconsin are going to be solid. Penn State and Iowa had moments with young teams and should improve. If Indiana fixes its wealth of issues they have the talent to succeed. That said, Purdue returns 75% of its offense, two thirds of its rebounding, 15 assists per game, and a wealth of experience. The senior class has won 74 games in three years and at least has a decent run in March with two NCAA wins last year. Let’s get judged on a horrid 15 minute stretch of basketball against a team that went thermonuclear instead of the bulk of the season.
Fine. Let them sleep. I still think Purdue is a top 16 team nationally next season and will finish in the top 4 in the Big Ten. It has three straight top four finishes in the conference and a league title to defend. We’ll be fine.
Oh, and there is that 1% chance that Swanigan might be back, too.