Last night we saw the first of the way-too-early top 25s come out. Now a bunch more are out, so let’s do a quick rundown:
ESPN Jeff Borzello: No. 3
Matt Painter did a terrific job with the Boilermakers this season, finishing 13-6 in the Big Ten before falling in overtime in both the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments. But there are zero seniors on the roster, and only a couple of backup frontcourt players have transferred out so far. So all five starters in should be back for Purdue. It starts with Trevion Williams, a preseason All-America candidate who can be dominant down low. Painter has a deep and versatile perimeter group, with Jaden Ivey a prime breakout candidate as a sophomore. Ivey started the final 12 games of the season, scoring in double figures in all but two of those games and scoring 26 points in the NCAA tournament. Painter can go big with 7-foot-4 Zach Edey, he can have a more traditional lineup with Mason Gillis at the forward spot, or he could go small with four perimeter scorers.
CBS Sports Gary Parrish: No. 9
The Boilermakers have no seniors and zero obvious NBA prospects, meaning everybody who matters should return from a team that received a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The star is Trevion Williams, who averaged 15.5 points and 9.1 rebounds as a junior.
Sports Illustrated Kevin Sweeney: No. 8
Matt Painter’s club was definitely ahead of schedule in 2020–21, earning a No. 4 seed in the Big Dance and finishing fourth in the Big Ten despite a young roster. Now, the Boilermakers should return every key piece and are set to add a pair of high-level in-state recruits in Trey Kaufman and Caleb Furst. Guard Jaden Ivey averaged 15.8 points per game in February and March as a freshman and should be one of the Big Ten’s best as a sophomore, and Purdue’s two-headed monster of Trevion Williams and Zach Edey up front will be a handful once again.
247 Sports Kevin Flaherty: No. 4
If that starting lineup looks familiar, it should: it’s the same exact starting lineup Purdue fielded in the NCAA Tournament against North Texas. But there’s some serious upside here for those who believe the biggest growth comes between a player’s first and second seasons on the court—two starters and four of the nine players who played in that game were freshmen. That includes Brandon Newman and Zach Edey off the bench, both of whom could play starter-type minutes (Newman started 23 of 28 games last year before coming off the bench late). Add in another point guard option in Isaiah Thompson and a strong two-man recruiting class that adds two 6-foot-8 forwards in Trey Kaufman (No. 32 overall) and Caleb Furst (No. 54) and the Boilermakers bring back a ton of experience, yet still have quite a bit of young talent. Williams could be an All-America candidate, and Ivey looks like a star. The question mark on what to keep an eye on comes in that it’s unclear what Purdue would even add.
As always, it comes down to guard play. Purdue has two players inside that simply cannot be guarded one-on-one. That means open shooters. If Purdue can hit those open shots it will be lethal, because I trust coach Painter to fix the defense to at least be serviceable.
I also know the reactions in the comments, so let’s get them out of the way:
- Oh no! The kiss of death!
- Painter will blow it (reserved for our Facebook page)
- We’re way too high.
- Purdue lives to disappoint.
- Calm down everyone, if we were lower we would scream about being underrated and disrespected.
- The curse of high expectations.
And now your early Odds are up:
2022 NCAA Tournament Odds
Florida State 14-1
Ohio State 14-1
Let’s just enjoy this before mourning and moping about any tournament loss that is 11 months away.
I will say one thing: Jaden Ivey is, in no way, allowed to play if the Big Ten schedules us in a road game at Minnesota. In fact, we should immediately forfeit that game the moment the schedule is announced. We’re not going undefeated anyway.