When the 2014 season began last August, Shondell's squad was ranked #8 in the country, fresh off an Elite 8 appearance, and was dreaming of reaching the Final Four with one of the best freshmen classes in the country. Though the season had its ups and downs, and the chance of making the Final Four with this squad became a dream rather than a possibility, everyone still assumed that Purdue, a team that reached 4-consecutive Sweet 16s, would easily reach the tournament. After all, Purdue remained ranked in the Top 25 despite their struggles.
But in their last three match-ups of the regular season, all on the road, they were swept by Minnesota, Michigan State, and Wisconsin. Despite this, no one questioned Purdue NOT making the tournament. But that's exactly what happened, as Purdue was left out in the cold on Selection Sunday that bleak December day. Many felt (including myself) that Purdue, a typically strong tournament team, was robbed.
And as we enter the 2015 volleyball season, Purdue is once again on the outside looking in, as they sit outside the Preseason Top-25 Coach's Poll for the first time since 2010.* Purdue sits behind Long Beach State with 131 votes. Duke at #25 received 168 votes.
It really isn't a surprise that Purdue was left out given how last season ended. Hopefully, Shondell's squad, which will certainly have more veterans on this squad compared to last year, will burst back into the Top-25 in no time and return to the tournament at the end of the season and make another big run. Purdue will face many tough opponents throughout the 2015 season, which is normal when playing in the B1G. Here's a rundown of the teams Purdue will play this season and their ranking/number of votes.
LSU: NR (8 votes)
Miami (FL): NR (7 votes)
Penn State: #1
Ohio State: #14
Michigan State: #19
Minnesota: NR (78 votes)
Michigan: NR (12 votes)
Purdue won't have the luxury of home-court advantage against BYU, LSU or Miami, but if they can defeat those teams on a neutral court (except for LSU, as the game will be at Baton Rouge), it will certainly boost their resume. In addition, Purdue will face some of their tougher B1G opponents at home, such as Nebraska, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan State, and Purdue has the chance to finish the season strong at home this year when they host Minnesota, Michigan State, and Wisconsin.
Though we all think that Purdue is amazing, it's obviously not the case nationwide. If Purdue wants to return to the Top-25, let alone the NCAA Tournament, they need to have a strong non-conference season and carry that momentum in the B1G season.
*That 2010 team also came off a non-tournament season in 2009 and advanced into the Elite 8.