It has been a hell of a run for Purdue men’s basketball with two Big Ten championships in the last three years (and were a single rebound away from a three-Pete). We also have three straight Sweet 16 appearances and an Elite Eight where we came literally as close as you can get to a Final Four without actually going. So what do we do for an encore?
Well, let’s go for a record 25th Big Ten Championship. This morning Purdue released its 11 game non-conference schedule for the 2019-20, which will serve as a prelude for said 25th championship.
November 5: vs. Green Bay
Former Boiler Linc Darner will return to Mackey Arena for the season opener. Darner has been solid for the Phoenix. He took them to the NCAA Tournament in his first season in 2015-16 and this was a year after he won a Division II National Championship at Florida Southern in 2015. Last season Green Bay was the runner-up in the CIT with a 21-17 record. Purdue is 2-1 all-time against Green Bay, last playing them in the 1995 NCAA Tournament, a 49-48 win. Green Bay won its only ever game in Mackey Arena 69-53 on December 7, 1991.
November 9: vs. Texas
The return game against the Longhorns will provide a very early test, and this time they won’t have that bad man in Carsen Edwards to fear. Carsen dropped 40 in his home state last season, but Texas won the war 72-68. After an undefeated home season our winning streak in Mackey will be put on the line early against the defending NIT champions. Purdue is only 1-3 all-time against Texas with three of those games coming in the NCAA Tournament (1990, a loss, 1999, a win, and 2003, a loss). This makes two straight games where Purdue will face a team that played in a postseason tournament final in 2019.
November 12, 13, or 14: Gavitt Games TBD
This potentially could be a road game, especially if our ACC/Big Ten game is a home game. It also will not be against Butler since we already play the Bulldogs in Indy. Ironically, if we were to play DePaul is would be the fourth straight 2019 postseason tourney fianlist we would face, as We played Virginia (NCAA), Green Bay (CIT), Texas (NIT) and possibly DePaul (CBI).
November 16: vs. Chicago State
This game is one of two home games officially part of the Emerald Coast Classic. Purdue is 3-0 all-time against the Cougars, the last being a 111-42 win on November 12, 2017 that serves as the largest margin of victory in the modern era of Purdue basketball. Chicago State is one of the worst programs in Division I and we will win by at least 30 points.
November 23 vs. Jacksonville State
This is the second home game that is part of the Emerald Coast Classic and our first ever meeting in basketball with the Gamecocks. The contract could be related to the baseball series we played at Jacksonville State this past season, where baseball lost two of three. Jacksonville State was 24-9 this past season and finished third behind Belmont and Murray State in the Ohio Valley Conference. Those two teams went to the NCAA Tournament and Jacksonville State was 3-0 against them before losing to Murray State by 2 in the conference tournament. They made the NCAA Tournament for the only time ever in 2017.
November 29 and 30: Emerald Coast Classic (Destin, Florida)
The draw has not yet been announced, but Purdue will face two of Florida State, Tennessee, and VCU, who all made the NCAA Tournament this past season. A rematch with Florida State would be nice after losing by one to them in Tallahassee in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Purdue also beat Tennessee in overtime in this year’s Sweet 16, so you know they want a rematch.
December 3 or 4: ACC/Big Ten Challenge TBD
Purdue was on the road in last year’s challenge and has been on the road in three of the last four, so expect this to be a home game and the Gavitt Games to be on the road. It also would likely not be against Notre Dame because of our current Crossroads deal.
December 17: at Ohio
And this is one out of left field. After a near two week non-conference break Purdue goes to Ohio. Purdue beat the Bobcats 95-67 in Mackey last season in the game that started the turnaround after the 6-5 start, so going to Athens much be part of a 2-for-1 or something. Purdue is now 5-2 against the Bobcats, but has not played in Athens since December 6, 1969. Ohio’s Athletic Director is Jim Schaus, who is Fred Schaus’ son. Fred was Purdue’s men’s basketball head coach from 1973 to 1978, leading Purdue to the 1977 NCAA Tournament and was responsible for recruiting Joe Barry Carroll, the No. 1 pick in the 1980 NBA Draft. Fred also coached the Lakers and became the Lakers general manager, winning the NBA title in 1972, before arriving at Purdue.
December 21: vs. Butler (Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Crossraods Classic)
Purdue finally got past Butler two years ago after a lengthy losing streak, and the Bulldogs are always a tough opponent. Purdue is 37-19 all-time against Butler, and they are the team we have played the most outside of Big Ten play.
December 28: vs. Central Michgan
After a week off for Christmas Purdue hosts the mighty Chippewas. Purdue is 6-1 all-time against the Chips, last beating them 64-38 on November 29, 2009. Central Michigan’s only win over Purdue came back when I was a student, wen they beat us 67-66 on a last second layup in 2000.
Overall, I like this schedule. We know we’re getting two decent teams in the Gavitt Games and the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The two week gap almost certainly accounts for the early season Big Ten games, and we’re 3-1 in those early Big Ten games which are now likely a permanent feature during the 20-game league schedule. I don’t even mind going on the road to Ohio because hey, it is a free true road game to boost the RPI. If they finish in the top 135 of the NET rankings that gives us a bonus tier 2 win since it is on the road.
Hopefully the ACC and Gavitt Games games will be announced soon, but regardless, it is a tough slate. Purdue went 7-4 against its non-conference slate last year, dropping all four power conference games and our best win was against Belmont. With Butler, Texas, an ACC game, a Big East game, and at least one game against Florida State or Tennessee we know this year’s slate may be even tougher. Two of them will be in Mackey, however, and none of those four losses were in Mackey last year.