It has been less than a week since the 2018-19 season ended and yes, it still stings. It will probably sting until Purdue finds a way to win those last 3 tenths of a second and secure that elusive Elite Eight win.
Will it come in 2019-20?
It would have a nice symmetry to it, for sure. An even 40 years after our last Final Four, with the grandson of the coach that took us to our first Final Four on the roster. George King was even athletic director for our second Final Four, so having Kyle King on the roster (a freshman this year) might be another horcrux.
It would be unprecedented to reach the second weekend, however. Purdue has never made four consecutive Sweet 16s, and it only made three straight in 1998, 1999, and 2000 (with 1999 being a major surprise). Regardless on what Carsen Edwards decides, Purdue will have plenty returning next season. The Boilers played four freshmen and two sophomores major minutes this year. If Carsen does not return, Evan Boudreaux would be the lone senior expected to play significant minutes next season. Carsen returning probably has us as a top 15 preseason team. His departure may still have us in the top 25 with the core of a team that could make big noise in 2020-21.
So what about the schedule? It is obviously early, but we know a little on how the 31 regular season games will break down.
20 Games: Big Ten Schedule
Obviously this makes up the large part of our schedule, and getting a 25th Big Ten championship (and third in four years) is possible if Carsen returns. Even if he doesn’t, Purdue is probably an NCAA team that will finish in the top half of the conference. That should be the bare minimum expectation each season.
In the Big Ten we know we will get Indiana twice, as the conference was finally wise enough to protect that rivalry. That leaves 12 teams for the other 18 games. We’ll play six of those other teams twice and the other six once (three home, three away). This past season we had Ohio State, Michigan State, Maryland, Nebraska, Penn State, and Minnesota twice each. We went to Michigan, Wisconsin, and Northwestern while hosting Rutgers, Iowa, and Illinois. Because of the Indiana protected rivalry it makes sense for us to play Michigan, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Iowa, Rutgers, and Illinois twice, but there are no guarantees.
This is one of the few non-conference games we know with certainty. The Longhorns are coin got Mackey Arena sometime in December after our game in Austin last year. They will play in tonight’s NIT final, so with Michigan State (and Virginia?) still alive in the Final Four it is possible Purdue will host the NIT and the NCAA champion next season. Because of the Gavitt Games we could also host possible CBI champion DePaul (they play South Florida tonight). For those interested, the CIT final is between Marshall and Linc Darner’s Green Bay, so if Green Bay wins, let’s bring Linc home.
Crossroads Classic vs. Butler – December 21
This is the final scheduled year for the Crossroads Classic, but Purdue will play Butler this coming season at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The Bulldogs had a down year this season, barely making the NIT and finishing last in the Big East.
Emerald Coast Classic – November 29 & 30
This is Purdue’s exempt tournament for 2019-20, meaning we will get four games in it and it will count as one. Much like the Hall of Fame and Cancun tournaments in recent years, we will play two games in Mackey against smaller conference foes before going to a neutral site for a little four team tournament. We’ll see some familiar faces there, too. VCU, Tennessee, and Florida State are the other three teams in that we will play in Destin, Florida. The draw will come out later, but we’re guaranteed of at least one rematch with either Tennessee or Florida State. Both teams were Sweet 16 teams in 2019, so if we play (and beat) both they would be marquee wins.
The Big Ten schedule, exempt tournament, and Crossroads Classic give us 24 of the 31 games, so here are the rest:
ACC/Big Ten Challenge
Purdue was on the road in this event last season, so returning home to play in Mackey is likely, but not a guarantee. Over the 20 years of the event Purdue has the most wins for a Big Ten program with 10. We’re 10-8 all-time, rotating out in a few of the early years when the Big Ten had more teams than the ACC. We have played nine times at home and nine times on the road, but it has not been straight alternating home and away. Purdue played NC State in 2004 and Florida State in 2005. Purdue hosted Duke in 2008 and Wake Forest in 2009. It also hosted Boston College in 2013 and NC State in 2014, but went to Pittsburgh in 2015 and Louisville in 2016.
It seems unlikely we will host Florida State like we had the de facto home-and-home with Louisville since we’re in the same exempt tournament as them. It is also unlikely we will get Notre Dame home or away given our Crossroads agreement with them. Last season Clemson, Boston College, Louisville, Duke, Miami, Florida State, and Notre Dame all hosted as ACC teams. The conferences like to have compelling matchups, however, against teams that finished in similar spots in their respective leagues. We could see Virginia Tech, Duke, North Carolina, or even Virginia. Should Carsen return I think Virginia (who we played in the 2000 Challenge in Charlottesville and the 2006 Challenge in West Lafayette) is a very likely rematch. Both teams were on the road in last year’s event, however.
Purdue did not take part in the 2018 Gavitt Games with the Big East and it was at Marquette in the 2017 games. Most likely if we do play in them in 2019-20 we would be on the road if we’re at home in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge or vice versa. That is how it worked the two times Purdue has played in them so far.
The agreement is for eight games in each of eight seasons through 2022. Each Big Ten team is contracted to play a minimum of four times. Purdue has played in it twice, hosting Villanova in 2016 and going to Marquette in 2017. Each Big East team is contracted to participate in the Gavitt Games six times, so it could be any one of their nine teams.
Since we’re already playing Butler it likely removes them from the list, leaving the other eight teams. Villanova and Marquette, our last two opponents, were the top two teams in the league. Marquette was at Indiana (making it unlikely they come to West Lafayette) and Villanova hosted Michigan (making it unlikely we go to Philly). St. John’s, if Shamorie Ponds returns, would be an intriguing option to have an Edwards-Ponds shootout.
Five Remaining Games
This leaves five remaining games that, assuming we also play in the Gavitt Games, will likely be buy games. Two of these five will be the Emerald Classic campus games, leaving really only three we have to schedule. Here are some suggestions:
Evansville – Did you know that the Purple Aces are the only team in the state we did not have an active winning streak against until we lost to Notre Dame last year? Purdue has not played Evansville since losing 75-69 to them in Evansville on December 3, 2005.
At IUPUI – Purdue has already played the Hoosiermakers in West Lafayette in 2014, 2015, and 2017. Why not give them a marquee home game? They play in the recently renovated Fairground Coliseum, a building that seats almost 7,000 but hardly draws that many. If IUPUI wants a guaranteed sellout lets give them one.
At Purdue-Ft. Wayne – Indiana wasn’t afraid to go to Fort Wayne and play the Mastodons in the Coliseum. Sure, they lost, but they weren’t afraid. This would be a way to help secure some fertile recruiting grounds in Fort Wayne. We’re 6-0 all-time against the ‘dons, beating them in 2003, 2005, 2008, 2010, 2011, and 2014 all in West Lafayette.
Green Bay – Linc Darner is just finishing up his fourth season in Green bay and he has them in the championship game of the lower tier CIT. It could be a good little challenge, as he had them in the 2016 NCAAs and they are 21-16 this year. Their championship game is tonight at 7pm on CBS Sports Network.
Incarnate Word – Purdue beat Incarnate Word early in the 2015-16 season 96-91, but they are coming off of their first season under Purdue alum Carsen Cunningham.