This morning Purdue unveiled its complete men’s basketball non-conference schedule for the 2017-18 season:
Overall the schedule is a solid one. Purdue has a tough home game against Louisville, a sneaky-tough trip to Marquette, the Battle 4 Atlantis as one of the top early season tournaments, and, of course, Butler. Some quickie thoughts on each game:
November 1: Exhibition vs. Carroll College - This is the one public exhibition we get to see, as Purdue will probably play someone in a Secret Scrimmage like we have hte last two years in Dayton and West Virginia (AND WE DO NOT TALK ABOUT SECRET SCRIMMAGE!!!!!!). Carroll College is an NAIA team from Montana coached by... Dr. Carson Cunningham! Carson is a former player from my time at Purdue and this is not the first time he has brought his team to West Lafayette for an exhibition. Last season they were 29-5 and lost in the NAIA quarterfinals to Life University.
November 10 vs. SIU-Edwardsville - A relative newcomer to Division, SIU-Edwardsville was 6-24 last year and 1-15 in the Ohio Valley Conference. Former point guard Tarrance Crump is an assistant there, and Purdue is 2-0 all-time against them. Purdue beat them 90-63 in 2009-10.
November 12 vs. Chicago State - Chicago State has been one of the bottom feeder teams in Division I for awhile. They have wandered conferences and even played as an independent for a short time. Last year they were 6-26 overall and 1-13 in the WAC. Basically, if Purdue doesn’t start 2-0 something is seriously wrong. Purdue is 2-0 all-time vs. them, winning 69-56 on 12/6/2005 in the last matchup.
November 14 at Marquette - This is the first real game of the season and the Gavitt Tipoff Games matchup against the Big East. It is the first time Purdue has played the golden eagles since the 1969 NCAA Tournament, when Purdue went to its first Final Four on a last second shot. Marquette was 19-13 last season, 10-8 int he Big East and at least made the NCAAs. Purdue is 8-0 all-time vs. Marquette, but the last win came before many of the parents of their current players were born.
November 18 vs. Fairfield - This is mostly a tune-up game before going to the Bahamas. the Stags were 16-15 a year ago and played in the 3rd tier CIT tournament, which is limited to only mid- and low-majors. This will be their first meeting with Purdue.
November 22-24 Battle 4 Atlantis - This is a tournament with some chest hair. The draw will come later, but Arizona and Villanoa should both be excellent next season. they are likely the favorites to win the event. SMU, Tennessee, and NC State are all solid opponents. Northern Iowa and Western Kentucky are always quality mid-majors that can hold their own. There are no bad games here, but if Purdue could pull off a win over Arizona or Villanova (or both? I am greedy) it will be a sign this team is for real as a national contender).
December? vs. Louisville - Last year Purdue played like crap for 36 minutes and still managed to make it a game in Louisville Now we get to run it back with the Cardinals coming to Mackey Arena for their first visit since 1987. Purdue is 11-6 all-time against the Cardinals, last beating them in 2007. It is entirely possible Purdue could play three straight top 5 teams in Villanova, Arizona, and Louisville. We have got ot win one of them to have any hope at a decent seed in March, and getting two would be fantastic.
December 7 vs. Valparaiso- The first in-state opponent of the year is the Crusaders of Valparaiso. They will be missing Alec Peters, but they always have a solid team and will be playing their first year in the Missouri Valley Conference. They were 24-9 last year, 14-4 in the Horizon league, but an injury late to Peters cost them an NCAA berth. Purdue is 15-1 all-time vs. Valpo.
December 10 vs. IUPUI - Surprisingly, this is only the third game against the Hoosiermakers all-time. Purdue beat them in 2014 and in 2015, so they are becoming a regular opponent. As usual, they are loaded with Indiana prospects, including Ron Patterson, who has been around seemingly forever. In perhaps one of the strangest developments ever, Grant Weatherford will play his first official game in Mackey Arena as a former Purdue player. He played only once for Purdue, in an exhibition game, before redshirting, then transferring to a junior college. He is now at IUPUI and will debut for them this fall.
December 16 vs. Butler (Crossroads Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse) - Purdue faces the state’s premier basketball school and will try to end a five game losing streak to the Bulldogs. Purdue is 37-19 all-time vs. Butler, but hasn’t beaten them since December 19, 1998 at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Butler has won all three of the first Crossroads Classic games over Purdue, all with a different coach if I recall correctly. As always, they will be a probable NCAA Tournament team and they are coming off of a Sweet 16 year.
December 21 vs. Tennessee State - Tennessee State was 17-13 a year ago and this should be an easier game after a hell of a run. It is the first time ever they will play Purdue.
December 30 vs. Lipscomb - While Purdue will almost certainly have a conference game or two before this one, this will end the non-conference season. Lipscomb is a potential NCAA team too. They were 20-13 last season and reached the Atlantic Sun Quarterfinals. Purdue is 1-0 all-time against them, winning 66-62 in Mackey Arena on November 20, 2007.
So there you have it. Remember, because of the decision to have the Big Ten Tournament in New York there will be some early season Big Ten games. The conference is expected to schedule a pair of conference games for each member, one home and one away, around the first weekend of December. that makes for a brutal stretch where Purdue will play three tough games in the Bahamas, two conference games, and then Louisville.
But we have a Big Ten title to defend and people will be overlooking Purdue because the national thinks all we had was Caleb Swanigan. Purdue can prove them wrong very early. We will know by mid-December whether this team can contend for a Final Four or not.