Your defending Big Ten champions are a few months from going after a second straight title. Regardless of if Caleb Swanigan returns, as long as Isaac Haas and Vince Edwards come back Purdue should be one of the favorites to win the Big Ten. And why not? We’ll have four senior starters back from the defending champs. It’s time to get some breathing room with a 24th Big Ten championship.
First we will have the non-conference schedule. It will be 13 games, and here is what we know:
November 22-24: Battle 4 Atlantis – Paradise Island, Bahamas
This is an excellent early season tournament to be in and basically Maui East. Villanova and Arizona are in the field and will likely be the favorites to make the final round. Tennessee and NC State are major conference teams that will boost the schedule if we play them. SMU, Western Kentucky, and Northern Iowa are excellent mid-majors that could win a game or two. There is no easy draw here, and regardless of what happens, Purdue will get three tough games. WKU and UNI were under .500 this past year, but WKU brought in a great recruiting class. SMU won 30 games a year ago.
ACC/Big Ten Challenge
Purdue’s 7 game winning streak in this event was snapped at Louisville, but after going on the road the last two seasons in this Purdue should be playing at home. Against who, we can’t say. If Swanigan returns and Purdue is a preseason top 10 team expect a big name. North Carolina was on the road at Indiana last season, but Duke hosted Michigan State. If Swanigan is back I could see Duke coming or Louisville coming for a rematch. If not, a middle tier team like Virginia or Miami could come to West Lafayette. Duke has also been home two straight years, so look for them to go on the road. I would love to get Notre Dame, who hasn’t come to West Lafayette in over 50 years.
Gavitt Tipoff Games
A.k.a. the Big Ten/Big East Challenge. Last year this was announced on May 3rd, so this announcement could be coming any day now. This is what gave us Purdue-Villanova last season as one of the best regular season on campus games of the year. There were eight games last season and Purdue expected to be involved for the second straight year. Also, Purdue will likely go on the road.
We can probably rule out a Villanova rematch with both teams possibly meeting in the Bahamas. The same is true with Butler since we play them in the Crossroads. A trip to Xavier would be a very good one here. The Musketeers reached the Elite Eight and will have a strong team once again. Purdue is 9-6 against Xavier all-time, but has lost five in a row.
December 7: Valparaiso
It is a year late to see an Alec Peters vs. Caleb Swanigan matchup, but it was announced this morning that Valparaiso will play Purdue for the first time since 2010. Purdue is 15-1 all-time against the Crusaders, losing to them in 1965. That 2010 game was at Valparaiso as well, as it was supposed to be a homecoming game in the senior year for Robbie Hummel and Scott Martin. Unfortunately, Martin had transferred and Hummel was injured at the time.
This is a good mid-major game. Valpo was a tournament team in 2015 and was absolutely robbed of being a tourney team in 2016. That year they were the NIT runner-up. Last season they were rolling at 24-6 before Peters got injured and they lost their final three games. Peters averaged 23 and 10, but graduated. Big man Derrik Smits, son of Pacers center Rik Smits, will be entering his sophomore year.
This game was announced about a month ago and it is almost certainly at Purdue:
Purdue will host Fairfield as part of its 2017-18 non-conference schedule, per a source.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) April 9, 2017
Purdue has never played the Stags, who were 16-15 this past season and 11-9 in the MAAC. They have not made the tournament since 1997.
December 16: vs. Butler (Crossroads Classic, Bankers Life Fieldhouse)
Purdue is in the Crossroads for at least the next three seasons and that is wonderful. We finally got our first win this past season and now it is time to get the Butler monkey off our back. This is always a great event with all four teams as potential NCAA teams, so it is a great chance for a quality win. Purdue is 37-19 all-time against Butler, but the Bulldogs have won the last five meetings. Purdue hasn’t beaten them since 1998, and in that time Butler has become the state’s premier program.
Remaining games: TBD
Purdue has five games left, and there is a good chance they will be of the directional state variety. That’s the nature of the business. With the Battle 4 Atlantis, two challenges, and the Crossroads Purdue already has a rough non-conference. There might be one more major conference team added as a home and home. We haven’t really had one outside of West Virginia in the past few seasons. I’d like to get Paul Lusk at Missouri State, Jack Owens at Miami (OH), or Linc Darner at Green Bay back.
Also, dare I say a Cuonzo Martin Missouri home and home?